Tag Archives: Google Webmaster Tools

Statistics Plugins and Services I Use

I use several site statistics and analytics plugins and services. Each one gives me a slightly different view of my sites, and each one has a different take on how it collects and collates its information. And every one has its own version of what the numbers for my sites are!

Since the statistics all of them provide is different, how do I decide which one is the most accurate? Frankly, it’s through experience in comparing the hourly and daily stats provided, and learning as much as possible about what data is collected for each statistic and how it is collected. Over time, I have gotten a feel for which ones are most reliable, and I depend on them to make important decisions about my sites. The others I use for their strengths, but take their statistics “with a grain of salt.”

Here are the statistic plugins and services that I use:

WordPress.com Stats
WordPress.com Stats

WordPress.com Stats plugin

The stat plugin I use the most is WordPress.com Stats plugin. It creates a new panel in the WordPress Admin area that has a real-time graph of the number of page views on the site as well as statistics for referrers, top posts and pages, search terms used to find the site, links clicked, and incoming links. Its history of articles read is not available in other services or plugins I use. Its statistics are kept on the WordPress.com site, so there’s no load on your server. I do not consider these statistics as infinitesimally accurate as those provided by other plugins and services I use, but are a good indication of real-time trends in an easy-to-use format. I use it the most because of its presentation of information, not for its accuracy. The stats provided tend to be on the high side.

CyStats
CyStats

CyStats plugin

The CyStats plugin is much more detailed in the data it collects and presents than the WordPress.com Stats plugin. It, too, displays its information on a panel in the WordPress Admin area. It uses the WordPress database to keep its information, so it does add a load to your server. CyStats is also real-time and keeps some of the same data as WordPress.com Stats, adding hits and information from feed readers, summary of all traffic, most visited pages, most commented posts, and much more. Its accuracy is very good, and its stats are the ones I depend on the most.

Woopra

Woopra plugin and service

Woopra has both a website and a plugin. As of this writing, it is in closed beta, free, and accepting new members. It offers real-time tracking and analysis of your site statistics, and collects roughly the same data as the WordPress.com Stats plugin. To this is added tagged visitors, bounce rate, visit durations, and countries. The data is kept on Woopra’s servers so there is no load on your server. Its stats tend to be the highest of any of the plugins or services I use, so I use it only for certain statistics others don’t collect, such as tagged visitors, which tells me by name who has visited my site and how many times they have done so.

Google Analytics
Google Analytics

Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a free service that is accessed on the web. Data is kept on Google’s servers, so there’s no load on your server. It provides a wealth of information, from pageviews to bounce rates to average time on the site, and is particularly good at allowing you to view statistics side by side to help you make decisions. Its display is not real-time, and lags behind by a day. I use Google Analytics for deep analysis of search queries, keywords, and long-term trends, among other things. I consider the information to be quite accurate, but a little on the low side. Thesis Theme Tools has an article, “Google Analytics Setup” that steps you through getting the service, as well as sources of help to learn how to use it.

Google Webmaster Tools
Google Webmaster Tools

Google Webmaster Tools

Google Webmaster Tools is not strictly an analytics or statistics service, but it gives you lots of nuts-and-bolts information about your site, such as pages not found (404 pages), the last time the Google ‘bot crawled your site, very detailed search query information, search keywords lists, and much more. The information is provided on the web, and like Analytics, data is kept on Google’s servers. It is not real-time, lagging behind about a day. I use Webmaster Tools to keep an eye on the health of my sites, and for its very accurate search and keyword information, which it excels at. There is an article on Thesis Theme Tools entitled “Google Webmaster Tools Setup” that guides you through signing up for the service, and gives an overview of what the service can do for you.

The bottom line

So I use 5 different plugins and services. You might ask, “Why so many?” Each one collects data that the others don’t and presents it in a different fashion. The information provided by the sum of all of these sources of statistics helps me determine whether my keywords are effective, what search terms people are using to reach my sites (particularly important for Anxiety, Panic & Health), things I can do to keep visitors on my sites, which articles are most effective, and other SEO-related information.

Of all the statistics provided by these plugins and services, I trust CyStats the most. It is in the middle as far as the numbers go, and its stats are internally consistent and presented in a very usable form.

Next to CyStats, I have faith in Google Analytics more than the other services and plugins. Its analysis tools are second to none, and I depend on them for many of my statistics needs. When using Analytics, I keep in mind that its numbers are a little on the low side.

I use the stats in Google Webmaster Tools to keep track of search and keywords, besides to keep tabs on the wellbeing of my site. My trust of Webmaster is on a par with Google Analytics.

As I said, WordPress.com Stats’ numbers are on the high side, but its presentation makes it simple to see trends in real time, and it does have some unique statistics. Its easy-to-use graph of activities and stat summaries cause it to be active in my Admin panel much of the time despite its optimistic view of traffic.

Woopra’s value to me is almost solely on its unique tagged visitors information, which is not subject to its numbers being the highest (and most inaccurate, in my opinion). If it weren’t for tagged visitors, I would not use Woopra.

Why don’t you use Mint?

Mint is a fine statistics and analysis site, and many people use the service and swear by it. However, I am not convinced that it is any more accurate or useful than the suite of plugins and services that I use. I believe that if I were looking for a single source of statistics, I would choose Mint.

I hope this article has been of value to you. If you have any questions or comments, please write them below. You can also reach me by email by clicking on the “Contact” button in the menu bar.

©2009 Michael L Nichols. All rights reserved.

What next?

Your comments are always welcome, and are important to this blog’s community! Leave a comment now, or read the comments.

You can find several related articles in the “Related Articles” list below. In the footer you will find a lists of Popular Posts, Recent Posts, and you may browse by Categories, or tags. There’s also a Google Custom Search box to help you find just what you want.

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Early Rising Dogs

Got a couple of articles written today, but had a lot of other obligations that cut into my time. I also spent a lot of time in the Forum today, and had to troubleshoot a problem a user was having with the Contextual Submenus.

It didn’t help that my wife’s dog, who is used to getting up at 5:30 am, woke me barking to go out at that evil hour, then again an hour later to eat. I’ve been dragging all day. Sure will be glad when she gets back!

Today I:

  • Finished the article on Google Webmaster Tools setup.
  • Wrote an article on how to find Widget names so they can be styled in custom.css.
  • Updated the Index page for yesterday’s and today’s new articles.
  • Set up a new subdomain for demos, and took screenshots of that process, loading WordPress with Fantastico, and installing Thesis.

Tomorrow I will keep at it, and hope to:

  • Translate several of my code and Forum snippets into short articles.
  • Work on menu organization — I can see it will get out of hand if I don’t think about it now.
  • Tinker with my 404 and Contact forms to make them more useful.
  • Keep thinking about a way to reduce the php code needed to make the Contextual Submenu and Button Bar functions. They’re already getting big!

And as I have time and opportunity (and need a break):

  • Continue thinking and research what it would take to do video tutorials. Find out about post-processing and pro-con of storing on server or with a service like Vimeo.
  • Contact HostGator about some necessary server setting changes for enabling teaser images.
  • Bring into DEVONthink Thesis-related bookmarks from Safari.

New Articles on Google Webmaster Tools and Widgets!

Two new articles have been posted today that might be of interest to you:

Google Webmaster Tools Setup” shows you how to set up Google Webmaster Tools in Thesis in 5 easy steps and is fully illustrated with helpful images. It also gives you an overview of what Webmaster Tools can do for you, as well as listing sources of help.

How to Find Widget Names for custom.css” shows you how to find widget names in your source code so you can style them in your custom.css. It has several illustrations and code snippets to get you going.

Look for several more articles on Widgets soon!

Google Webmaster Tools Setup

Google Webmaster Tools is not as well-known as Google Analytics. But it is essential to maintaining the health of your website, and perhaps even more important, its Google search engine visibility. This article tells you how to set it up, then gives you an overview of what information is available for your site.

Adding Google Webmaster Tools to your site is an easy 5-step process that takes just minutes. Here’s how to do it:

Setting up Google Webmaster Tools

Click on the "Add a Site" button

Step 1: Go to the Google Webmaster Tools home page. You will see an “Add a site…” button. Click on it.

Enter your site's URL
Enter your site's URL

Step 2: Enter your site URL.

Verification screen
Verification screen

Step 3: The next screen verifies your website as being yours. Choose “meta tag” for the verification method. Copy the meta tag shown on the screen. This will go into the “Header Scripts” section of your Thesis Options page.

Put the meta tag into the Thesis Options header scripts area
Put the meta tag into the Thesis Options header scripts area

Step 4: In another tab or screen in your browser, go to your site’s Admin page. Click on “Appearance,” then “Thesis Options.” In the left column, look for “Stats Software and Scripts.” Click on “Header Scripts.” Put the meta tag you copied in the verification screen into the box for header scripts. Click the big green button to save.

Step 5: Go back to the verification screen. Press the “Verify” button. If all goes well, the next screen you will see will be the Google Webmaster Tools Dashboard. You’re done!

The Google Webmaster Tools Dashboard

The Dashboard provides you with an overview of the health of your site and its visibility via the Google search engine. At a glance, you can see:

  • Top search queries (the top 10)
  • Crawl errors encountered by the Google bots
  • Links to your site (the top 10 plus the total of links)
  • Sitemaps names, the number of indexed URL’s and the last time it was used by the Google bots

Detailed reports are available from the left sidebar. Note that all reports are downloadable and include much more information than is shown on the screen.

  • Site configuration
    • Sitemaps – sitemap list, URL’s submitted and indexed, and the last time they were used by the Google bots. If you have no sitemaps, you can add them from this screen.
    • Crawler access – details of your robots.txt file and status
    • Sitelinks – to your site’s interior pages generated by Google
    • Change of address – tools to move your site to another domain
    • Settings – geographic target, preferred domain, and crawl rate
  • Your site on the web
    • Top search queries – with clickthrough. Lists top 100 search terms with percentage use and rank position, can download a report with all of them for 90 days
    • Links to your site – top 50, can download report with all of them
    • Keywords – found when Google bots were crawling site
    • Internal links
    • Subscriber stats
  • Diagnostics
    • Crawl errors – encountered by Google bots, including 404 pages
    • Crawl stats – Googlebot activity for the last 90 days
    • HTML suggestions – duplicate, long, short and missing meta descriptions, title tags, as well as non-indexable content

Help for Google Webmaster Tools

The information shown by Google Webmaster Tools is pretty obvious and does not require interpretation, as does Google Analytics. However, there is help available on the top right menu that will describe the problems Webmaster Tools found. Each sidebar item has its own help, as well. Googling “Google Webmaster Tools help” turns up many, many pages that will help you diagnose and correct problems reported by the Webmaster Tools.

I hope you decide to give Google Webmaster Tools a try. It can enhance your understanding of your site greatly.

©2009 Thesis Theme Tools. All rights reserved.

What next?

Your comments are always welcome, and are important to this blog’s community! Leave a comment now, or read the comments.

You can find several related articles in the “Related Articles” list below. In the footer you will find a lists of Popular Posts, Recent Posts, and you may browse by Categories, or tags. There’s also a Google Custom Search box to help you find just what you want.

Get free updates by RSS or email!

If you have enjoyed this article, please consider subscribing to article updates, using an RSS reader, or by email. It’s free and is a great way to make sure you don’t miss a single article! I also invite you to follow me on Twitter!

Why not share this article with others!

Share this article with your friends using your favorite social media service, such as StumbleUpon, or Digg. Check out the icons below under “Share This Article With Others” for other social media, including del.icio.us, Technorati, Sphinn, Friendfeed, FaceBook, MySpace andLinkedIn! You can also email or print the article, and even tweet it using Twitter!