Visitor tracking on WordPress.com blogs

diversity1Once you have created your new WordPress.com  blog, you will need to add your new blog to your Google web masters account, generate and submit a site map, and register with search engines. After you have published a few posts and attracted some visitors some questions will begin to arise.

Visitor tracking questions

  1. Where did your blog visitors come from?
  2. Which search engines did unique visitor hits or returning unique web visitors come from?
  3. What path did they take on your site?
  4. Which browser  and which operating system do your visitors use?
  5. How long are your visitors on your page per visit and how many pages did they view?
  6. What time of the day did they come?

Hits, Page Views, Unique Visitors

What is a hit? In web analytics, a hit is any request for a file from a web server. By request  means a hit calculates  page content delivered, all images to complete that page, and any additional files that need to be loaded to make the web page you are looking at, appear the way it does.

What is a page view? A page view is a request to load a single page of an internet site that results from a page request from a web surfer clicking on a link on another HTML page which is pointing to the page in question.

What is a unique visitor? A unique visitor is access from a single IP to a web server that generates page views and hits during a particular visit.  When a visitor has cookies disabled, there is no way of establishing if they are a unique visitor or not.

WordPress.com Stats

Every free hosted WordPress.com blog has WordPress.com Stats as a free feature. Let’s examine what the WordPress.com stats program delivers.

WordPress.com Stats – Every time a visitor views a URL on your blog, the web browser loads a small smiley-face image from the stats system. The action is logged and the logs are summarized every few minutes to update the graphs, charts, and lists. The following are not counted:

  • Visits from registered users of the blog when they are not logged in.
  • Visits to uploaded documents and files.
  • Visits from browsers that do not execute javascript or load images.
  • GoogleBot and other search engine spiders.

Additionally, wordpress.com bloggers may choose to use free third party stats counters on their blogs, provided they are not javacript counters.

UPDATE >  Activemeter is no longer available.

SitemeterSite Meter’s comprehensive real time website tracking and counter tools give you instant access to vital information and data about your sites audience. With our detailed reporting you’ll have a clear picture of who is visiting your site, how they found you, where they came from, what interests them and much more.

Sitemeter tour – This report lists the total number of visits, average number of visits per day (visits this week / 7), the average length of a visit this week, the number of visitors today, the number of visits this week (not including today), the number of page views, the number of page views per visit this week, the average number of page views per day (page views this week / 7 ), the number of page views today, and the number of page views this week (not including today). The ‘week’ time period on which these are based is the previous 7 days (not including today) and does not start on any particular day of the week. The ‘week’ time period will change each day.

Sitemeter is not a real time stats program. This is what I get from sitemeter on my wordpres.COM blog:

Recent Visitors by Visit Details
Detail Domain Name Visit Time PageViews Visit Length

Recent Visitors by Entry Pages

Recent Visitors by Exit Pages

Today’s Visits and Page Views
Previous 7 Days
Previous 30 Days
Previous 12 Months

Navigation
Trends Location
Tracking Visitor
Tracking Web
Browsers
Today’s Visit Depth
Daily Visit Depth
Daily Durations
Continents
Countries
Distance
Time Zones
Language
OS
Domain
Organization

Browser Share
JavaScript
Monitor Resolution
Color Depth

Recent Visitors
World Map

Recent Visitors by Location

In my other blog which is a wordpress.ORG blog I have the javascript version of Sitemeter and in addition it gives me Recent Visitors by Referrals
Detail Referring URL

Statcounter – 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 or blog and you will be able to analyse and monitor all the visitors to your website in real-time!

  • Free, Fast, Responsive, Quick loading and Reliable Service.
  • Invisible Tracking – no ads on your website.
  • Accurate real-time website statistics with detailed visitor tracking and analysis.
  • View Live Demo

Experimentation

When experimenting with all of them what my co-admin found  was that there was absolutely no consistency from one to the other most of the time. One day Sitemeter would say there were 100 hits more than Statcounter, and Activemeter would show 100 less than Sitemeter.

The largest discrepancy was over 200 hits (Note:  The blog in use for testing was getting only 450 hits per day).  There was also had a 3 day period where one of them showed hits in the teens (12-19) – not wordpress stats – while the others were still showing up around 400-450.  At the end of a three month testing period, there was a 26% discrepancy between the lowest and highest totals.

Here’s the bottom line

Sitemeter, Statcounter, wordpress stats and all the others will never agree. Each one of them decides how and what they will count as a hit. Some count page views and some count unique visitors.  Therefore, use any of the stats counters only as a general guide to hits.

Understand that an application that is not running on the same servers your blog is on is going to be susceptible to wild fluctuations. This is because all hits have to be transferred over the internet to different servers, and there are literally thousands of things that can go wrong between the server your blog is on and the server at the stats place.

Also be aware of the  possibility that the software or hardware at the stats place may be broken and not recording, or counting things as intended.

Related post found in this blog: Real time visitor tracking (non javascript) for blogs, getclicky real time stats for wordpress.com blogs, Two free unique visitor counters for wordpress.com blogs

46 thoughts on “Visitor tracking on WordPress.com blogs

  1. *garn I typed too fast. Was supposed to say “You see, I’ve written this comment inside Post -> HTML editor just to get the “strike through” thingy.”

  2. This article This blog You have been very helpful! Once I finished reading the official wordpress help articles, I go immediately to this site read further. This article is one of those extras that can help me be more productive and the choices you provided saved me from partially wasted time aka googling.

    One nice extra in this site is the discussion and the amount of user experience of readers who can provide valid reasons and recommendations. So right now I installed clicky but now I am tempted to try StatCounter and Pax also. But since readers here didn’t talk negatively about having too many visitor counters, I think I’m gonna go with all three.

    If I may, I want to request for an article to be written: a basic guide of writing posts in HTML mode. You see, I recently just migrated to wordpress and well, from where I’ve been , everything’s pretty much spoon-fed. But if there is already an article written about, will someone please direct me to the link? You see, I’ve written this comment just to get the “strike through” thingy. lol Not sure though if this will appear in this comment, but here goes…

  3. Dear timethief.
    Thank You for so helpful following articles about stat.

    Visitor tracking on WordPress.com blogs
    Real time visitor tracking (non-JavaScript) for blogs
    getclicky real time stats for wordpress.com blogs

    By reading these three articles, I willing to ask unclear question. As I understand, wordpress.com stat do not count my own visits to my blog, if I was login in wordpress.com system. If there are any way to others third party like “Sitemeter”, which do not count my own visits and hits to my blog? Otherwise My self I visit blog some time hundreds time per day, if there is some specific edition.
    Thank You so much in advance.

    • If there are any way to others third party like “Sitemeter”, which do not count my own visits and hits to my blog? Otherwise My self I visit blog some time hundreds time per day, if there is some specific edition.

      Yes you set up sitemeter so it does not count your own visits to your blog. Click “manage” in your sitemeter account. and look for this: “Your account can be customized in several ways. You can set it to “ignore” your own visits, make your statistics reports private”. The word “ignore” is a link click it and set up your account to ignore your visits.

      • Dear timethief.

        Thank You so much. All these recommendations and tips working really good. :-) By Your kind help, now this statistic nicely added to our website too.

        Wish You All Good Fortune in Your life and Fulfilment off Your Most Important Desires.

  4. I’ve noticed a significant discrepancy between the WordPress dashboard stats and the stats I get through the BlackBerry application. It’s interesting that the app shows a higher number.

    I haven’t found anything in Support to account for this.

  5. Pingback: Mastering Blog Metrics, Content Creation and Retaining Readers « onecoolsitebloggingtips

  6. Just a bit of an update for anyone who finds this valuable post as I did 4 years after it was posted! ActiveMeter is no longer offering their service. The site is still up, but all links take you to a page to join Active Prospects.

    Thanks TT for the post as I was scrounging around trying to find a secondary stat tracker for a .com blog.

  7. Pingback: airodyssey on “Stats confusion” | DeveloperQuestion.com

  8. Sorry if question is daft, but I can’t quite get my head around above definitions of page hits, etc. slightly confused. So, me visiting you is one unique visitor, I get that (I hope!). Very often as I read an article I will right-click on your links to open in another tab so I have them handy to review next when I finish reading that first article. So, for example right now I have 5 tabs open – this one and four more to various other articles within your blog that were linked here (or elsewhere I’ve been reading just now). So – do you have one hit from my initial entry to site, and then 5 page views, or 5 each hits and page views? thanks, Timethief.

  9. are created in your article that really helped me, thank you I am saying. and hi from me. and this is my blog link an honor for me if you want to visit my blog

  10. Thanks for the information,
    but I’ve been trying to figure out how to convert
    the many lines of text that you get in FEEDJIT
    (it begins with “<script type=") into BBCode for Last.FM.
    Could you help with this?

  11. Thanks Timethief, I was checking out some of the stats info, after seeing that forum brief, about someone trying to vote in a certain Stat Program. I personally don’t like it either. i have several on my main site, and prefer another which I wont mention by name 2 to 1 over the one in question on the forums right now. But, I was interested in some information on the feedjit. I see that it works live time for your site, on the meter pretty much. Anyway, I’m sure I will catch the information from you on it as time goes on…Please, don’t steal all the time…I need just a few minutes of yours. Love this site. Oh, by the way, I did decide that …you were right, so I went back to Bueno

    • @sonsof thunder
      Google Analytics is an excellent program and is being used by Staff to derive information from for the WordPress stats we have on our dashboards. It is a script that we individual users cannot use on your blogs. Futhermore WordPress.com is owned by Autmattic and there is no democracy when it comes to selecting features.

      The person who posted the forum thread was off base by thinking that the handful of WordPress.com users that post to the English speaking WordPress.com support forum could or even should be voting on any corporate decisions. We have no role to play in that process. Yet wherever young American males, lacking in life experience are found online, we get this kind of nonsensical democracy and voting stuff being posted … SIGH

      Feedjit is an okay live stats program. I like it but IMO getclicky is even better as it provides more information. See > http://onecoolsitebloggingtips.com/2010/01/06/getclicky-real-time-stats-for-wordpress-com-blogs/

  12. Great information! I’m new to this but I’m learning quickly because I’m blogging every single day [link removed by timethief] trying to find the funny in every day on my blog GRIN. My question is this: With wordpress statistics, when they give you the page views per day, are the subscriptions included in that total or not???

    If anyone can answer I would be so grateful. email me at [link removed by timethief] Thank you!!! Doing my best to learn.

  13. Nice blog, i like it, its informative,
    i will visit his blog more often.
    i like your topic, specially about
    Visitor tracking on WordPress.com blogs

    Cheers

  14. I have also noticed that sitemeter gives wrong information as to location. I am using both statcounter and sitemeter and I find that sitemeter also gives me more page views. I think it records search engine visits also.

    • That’s interesting and it confirms that no two stats counters produce the same results. It seems that we ought to recognize that use any of the stats counters can only be relied on as a general guide to hits, because they all use different factors to determine numerical output.

  15. Thank you for the very comprehensive info on tracking. I’ve had statcounter for a week now and find it a useful adjunct to the WP statcounter. I like the info on unique & returning visitors, page views and location. I’m not sure, but it seems that statcounter is the only one that offers the option of making the stats invisible or public. I’m not a fan of having any kind of statcounter appear on my blog, so the “invisible” option suits me fine.

    • You’re welcome. Yes, statcounter is the only counter that’s invisible. I have visible sitemeters on all my blogs, and I set them so that the stats cannot be read by my visitors. I do think that statcounter may be a better choice but I’m too lazy to change now.

  16. Pingback: Real time visitor tracking (non-JavaScript) for blogs « one cool site: blogging tips

  17. Well researched article.

    I think the most reliable and comprehensive counter is Statcounter. I am using it on about 10 of my blogs [including a few defunct ones] and the no. of hits [page views] showed by it and wordpress match almost daily!

    Sitemeter sucks! It often can’t detect IP location etc! Also you need separate accounts for new blogs.

    Statcounter support [I only recently talked to them] also impressed. They replied rather promptly though the request ticket I had submitted was marked low urgency.

  18. I’ve been using the free version of Statcounter, though I’ve tried a few others. Statcounter has more for the (lack of) money with pages of data. Limited to 500 hits, though, so can’t get much of a trend.

  19. Still doing your fine work, I see! Thanks for the great summary on this, tt. It’s more useful info than I can absorb this minute, but your site is a terrific reference that I continually return to when I am puzzling over some aspect of blogging. Cheers, cgn

    • They are measuring different things so that’s why the discrepancies exist. It’s also why some bloggers choose to have more than one method for visitor tracking.

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