“ A free yet reliable invisible web tracker, highly configurable hit counter and real-time detailed web stats. Insert a simple piece of our code on your web page and you will be able to analyse and monitor all the visitors to your website in real-time! „
Most web hosts provide some statistics about the visitors to your site, but for more control, I use Statcounter - www.statcounter.com. There is a free version and some paid ones. I'm reviewing the free one as my sites have fairly low visitor levels at the moment, but the main advantage of the paid versions is they they will list a lot more visitors - the free one lists only the first 500 entries, or 250,000 page loads in any given month. The paid ones are in 3 levels, from $9 to $29 (US dollars) a month, depending on how many visitors/pageloads you need it to show - up to a maximum of 25,000 entries, or 15,000,000 page loads a month.
The site is very clear and easy to use, with explanations at various stages of how to use the statistics, and clear menus along the top (profile, account info, support, etc) and down the side (stats categories).
Signing up is pretty easy, then the next stage is to add a project. This is done with the following steps: first, you give your site a name, then enter its url (web address). You can then set various options, such as type of site, time zone, etc, and create a cookie which tells Statcounter not to list your own visits. You can also choose whether your hit counter is visible to visitors or not. The software then creates html code, which you copy and paste into every page of your site where you want visits recorded.
Once you have created the project, it is shown on a list on your main Statcounter page. Each item on your list has several options: view the stats, install code or customise settings, control user access to projects (where you can add or delete other users - useful for a group project), schedule email reports (I've never used this so don't know how efficient it is), or delete the project entirely. Any changes require your password. There are also columns showing a summary of your visitors: today, yesterday, this month, and total since the project began.
Now you can view your visitor statistics. If you want to make your site the best it can be, it's useful to know where your visitors are coming from, what browser they are using, etc. You can then optimise the site accordingly. Clicking on the view stats logo takes you to a bar chart showing visitors each day for the current month; these details are also shown as a list. You then have a side menu with lots of options which give you great detail about who is visiting your site.
Popular pages - this lists all your most popular pages in order of how many hits they have had.
Entry pages - shows a list, again in order, of which pages people are landing on when they arrive at your site.
Exit pages - ditto for which pages they are leaving from. This can be helpful if visits are not converting to sales - maybe there is one page where visitors are getting lost/confused and giving up?
Came from - this gives the link, if any, that visitors followed to get to your site - useful in knowing which of your links on other sites and directories are actually bringing in visitors.
Keyword analysis - shows which of your keywords are actually attracting visitors.
Search engine wars - this shows, in the form of a bar chart and a list, which search engines your visitors are using - mine shows Google, AOL, MSN, etc.
Visitor paths, visit lengths and returning visits - as the name suggests, this shows the path visitors take through your site, how long they stayed, and how many have visited your site before. Stats are shown in the form of a pie chart and a list in each case.
Country/state/city/isp - good for knowing how many of your visitors come from various areas, particularly if your site has a local bias.
Browsers - shows, in the form of a bar chart and list, which browsers your visitors are using. Since you should try to optimise your site for all the main browsers, this is useful in throwing up ones you may not have thought of.
Lookup IP address - all visitors are shown by their IP address (a marker unique to each computer), and you can change this to show the actual name/identity of the visitor. I have family members tagged in this way, so that I can see how many of my visitors are potential customers, and how many are family just checking how my site's looking.
Finally, you have the option to download the statistics, either as an Excel file, or in CSV format, which stands for comma separated values, and can be used, for instance, to send bulk emails. Thus, you could email all your visitors to notify them of updates or offers (except that you'd probably be shooting yourself in the foot, as this would be considered spam!).
In most of these sections, there is the option to 'drill down', ie to get further information about the visitors. For example, say you found that most of your visitors were using Firefox 2 as their browser. You could then 'drill down' and find out the IP addresses of those visitors and what screen resolution they used.
As I have said, most web hosts provide some statistics, but they vary in detail and are not usually very customisable. For webmasters, Statcounter provides a huge range of very useful statistics, which you can use to tailor your site much more closely to your visitor demographic. There are a couple of downsides: one is that, to stop it recording your own visits, you create a blocking cookie, which lists your own IP address as an exception. However, many computers have a dynamic IP address - that is, it changes for each session on the computer - and Statcounter doesn't seem to be able to block these, so your visits are actually recorded even if you've created the cookie. The other is that if you have a large site (one of mine has over 300 pages), it can be a right pain in the whotsits putting the code on every page. I've actually only put it on the main category pages for this particular site!
I found statcounter after setting up my first website while I was searching for a free way of tracking my hits. Most of the services I found for free included having to place some kind of banner or counter on my home page, which I wasn't willing to do. Statcounter don't make you do anything like this and their service is quite impressive.
You can sign up for an account for free which gives you detailed statistics, not only of the hits on your website but each visitors IP address, their location on the globe, the ISP they are using, what page they entered the site on, what page they exited, how long they were on the site for and what pages they loaded aswell as quite a lot more.
After signing up and logging in you simply copy and paste a bit of HTML code into the home page of your website and you can choose to keep it invisible, so it can't be seen by your visitors. By simply doing this you can then log in to your statcounter account at any time to track your user's activity.
Statcounter is an impressive and rich featured service for free and even tells you what browers your users are using, where they were referred from, and what operating system they have and that's just scratching the surface.
If you run your own website, in any shape or form, it is always interesting to see how it performs. There are many visitor counters around, but in my search many years ago, most of them linked to dodgy sites, or contained advertising. Then I discovered StatCounter.com and have never been happier. You can have a free service from them, or a paid for service, I have the free option.
It is very easy to configure, and once you have input all the required details it generates some code. You then copy and paste this into the index page of your website (or another page if you want to track something else). Then when you visit your StatCounter account page, you are presented with statistics about your website. You can choose to display a number counter, or a logo type counter on your website. You can also opt to make the statistics private or public.
When you log into your account and view the details, it is amazing at what you can find out. Apart from the very basic number of visitors, you can look at the country of origin, where they clicked to get to your website, how long they stayed viewing your pages... the list goes on and on. You can even see what computer platform and browser they were using.
Why should you track your visitors?
Well, there are lots of reasons. Perhaps you want to talk to your bank manager about your business. You could tell him/her that your website is attracting 'x' number of visitors. Or you want to get some advertisers to pay for placing banners on your website. If you can tell tem how many visitors you have, or where your visitors are, then this information definitely helps.
For a free service I really cannot fault it. I use it for nine websites and it has run flawlessly ever since I first set it up. Highly recommended.
I have a free statcounter account and while i like what they offer i really dislike the log size that you get for free. On the forum that i help run it can only can only show the visitors from the last 12 hours max and i do like to see how people found the forum although the log runs out too quick and sometimes overwrites data while i am asleep so i lose out on some data. It is possible though to increase your log size for $9 (£4.50) a month but i don't feel that statcounter are that good that i should spend £4.50 a month on increasing the log size for my statcounter account. For free statcounter offers alot but in terms of paying for it i don't think it is worth the money. I find that Google analytics is just as good although that is a bit restricted when it comes to following an individual user.
Visitor counters in general
I do have three different websites. For all of them I did buy in the domain and tried to get extra features free-of-charge, e.g. web hosting, newsletters, guest book and visitor counters. I see a big importance to know how many people visit my pages, to track them and to see how they navigate.
RISK: Statcounter ist he business name of an Irish IT guy named Aodhan Cullen of 77, Delwood Drive, Castleknock, Dublin 15 tätig. The service have been active since 2000. Due to the fact that he is a freelancer and not a corporation, there is a risk that from day 1 to another the service will be terminated. On the other hand also corporations can run bankrupt, but such risks do normally not depend on one single person.
Startup and configuration:
STANDARD: you register you personal details, create a user name and a password and you get a confirmation mail with a confirmation link. And then the work can start.
You have the option to run several projects (= websites) under one username. Every project gets its single name. Inside you definite all sub pages to be viewed and also assign a category of your project. IMPORTANT: exclude your own IP address so you can exclude your own control visits to the page. You will not want to see how often you control your own page but who else gets there.
VERY GOOD: The layout of your visitor counter can be amended in many ways. I personally do not like to tell people the number of visitors. It only leads to wrong conclusions in the sense of "what, I am only visitor #20,000. This can't be a good site." This is why I made my counter invisible which is possible at statcounter.
Layout and functions:
OKAY: Statcounter offers many possibilities. You can see the number of Pageloads, visitors and returning visitors. You can track any visitor how he/she navigated on your site which can help you making interesting conclusion like: "do people find your page through Google through strange key words ?" or "What is the most popular sub page" and "where do people leave you ?" This will help you optimizing your homepage.
Inside statcounter there are two main groups: settings and statistics.
Inside settings you define your projects and set the relevant sub pages. I do recommend writing down all sub pages including URL) in a separate program like Word or Notepad for better control and copying the content later in the field sub pages as this field looks very small. By defining the sub pages, you will later see the most popular sites in your project.
After having made your setting, you will get a HTML code to be inserted in all sub pages. When the code is logged correctly und uploaded on the web server the tracking can get started.
In the statistics area can see in the main menu how many visitors and Pageloads have happened in the recent past. My pages do have in average three Pageloads per visitor. As many people leave immediately after having seen the index page, I find this is a good value (in comparison: Wikipedia has 5.1 and German Postbank has only 1.3)
Moreover you can run reports on daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly basis. And you can view in depth the last 100 Pageloads including web browsers, page screen settings and systems.
The counter is free of charge up to 100 Pageloads. If you have more than these 100 Pageloads, older data will be invisible. If you calculate 5 visitors per day and 3 Pageloads per visitor, you will reach this value within a week.
If you upgrade, you can also track older data.
Up to 1.000 Pageloads: 7,-- per month
Up to 10.000 Pageloads: 15,-- per month
Up to 25.000 Pageloads: 24,-- per month
I have no idea if this is a good or bad price.
For those with doubts there is a demo area with some pictures how the counter works in general. I personally like these demos so I can have a help for making a decision what to buy in.
Comparison with other counters:
Before statcounter I had extremetracking.com as a free-of-charge counter. This machine only counts the Pageloads of the index page, but not the sub pages. Moreover, I could not make that one invisible, so I had to show at least this disturbing dot on the site which is not nice for the layout. In comparison to this, statcounter is a really good choice. Besides that, I have no experience with other counters.
For private and small business homepages with a small budget, statcounter can be considered as a good counter, easy to integrate. If the service was terminated one day, you would have to look around for a new counter. All in all for this group of websites I can recommend statcounter.
For big commercial sites, I do not think that statcounter is the right partner. About the prices, I cannot make a judgment.