Keeping Track Of Your Website Statistics
Everyone loves statistics, whether you will admit it or not. As people we have that proverbial love/hate relationship with this one aspect of our websites.
We hate to look at site statistics because we fear they will never change or worse they are going down. We begin to cry when we see a massive drop in pageviews or visits and doubt begins to creep in. We begin to second guess everything we have ever know or learned about writing, posting and managing a website.
Then without warning a week later your website statistics have doubled for no discernible reason. You begin to pour over the site logs to see where the traffic is coming from. You want to know who those visitors are. Are they real people? Was your site hacked by a spam bot? You need to know if you’re going crazy or not.
We have all been part of the stats game. Business owners are often obsessed with statistics. After all valid stats often means income. The higher the website statistics are the greater the potential for some form of income.
So how do you manage to keep track of all your site statistics? Many people at this point undoubtedly come to one conclusion, Google Analytics.
Well, not us. We like to actually have some control and idea what the stats are all about. This weeks POTW is one of our favorite statistics packages. Let’s take a look, shall we?
Edit: Additional updates have been done to this plugin since this post was originally created.
WordPress Compatability: 3.7
Plugin Version: 3.4
Last Updated: 10-22-2013
- [Note] We can’t believe we’re already crossing the 600,000 downloads mark! To celebrate this accomplishment, we’re working on a brand new website! Stay tuned.
- [New] Local IP Addresses are now marked as such (thank you, Thorsten)
- [Update] SlimStat’s filters have been reimplemented to use HTTP POST requests, in order to avoid issues with very long URIs (thank you, John)
- [Update] You can now restrict access to the configuration screens by specifying the minimum capability required (default: activate_plugins)
- [Update] Localization files have consolidated and are now easier to manage. Send us your localization!
- [Fix] Clicking on report titles doesn’t collapse the box anymore (thank you, psn)
- [Fix] Restored compatibility with the plugin Dashboard Widgets
In addition to the original plugin, make sure that you check out the plugin addons for slimstats. In particular the “SlimStat Dashboard Widgets“. This great addon brings the functionality to your admin dashboard.
See below for original content:
WordPress Compatability: 3.6.1
Last Updated: 9-24-2013
Average 5-Star Rating: 4.8
When it comes to site statistics we are very grateful to have a stats package such as WP Slim Stat.
As stats packages go this has become one of our favorite stats counters. It is in our opinion so much more then a simple statistical dashboard. Below are a few of the key features as listed by the author.
- Real-time web analytics reports
- Compatible with W3 Total Cache, WP SuperCache, HyperCache and friends
- Modern, easy to use and customizable interface (yep, you can move reports around and hide the ones you don’t need)
- The most accurate IP geolocation, browser and platform detection ever seen (courtesy ofMaxMind and Browscap)
- Advanced filtering
- World Map that works on your mobile device, too (courtesy of amMap).
This however does not really seem to do justice to what this stats package can actually help you to accomplish. Let’s take a deeper look at some of the features we enjoy by looking at a few of the pages within SlimStat.
Slim Stat Right Now:
This is the first page you see within SlimStat, titled “Right Now”. and it is a list of the last 50 or so page views to your website. This page is showing you the following information at a glance:
- last 50 hits to your website in detail including:
- browser type
- Ip address
- Pages Visited
- All of these stats are clickable In order to filter by that stat – click an IP address for instance and you see everything from that IP address.
- Each connection is color coded to represent Known users / Bots / Other
- Works for individual authors – login as an author and see just those stats specific to that author. Great for multiple author blogs.
Nearly a dozen ore more sections of stats that are especially helpful to administrators. This section becomes an “at a glance” section to easily show the admin a wealth of information such as:
- Recent users – who’s visiting your site
- SPY View – what those users did
- Recent Search Terms – great for SOE work
- Top Pages – Great for seeing which content is doing well
- Recent Traffic Sources – know where your traffic is coming from
- Top Known Users – See who keeps coming back
- and even more.
These sections are also be rearranged to suit the needs of the admin or site. Perhapds you never have any files to download. Push that to the bottom of the list or disable it altogether.
This means you can keep clutter to a minimum and just see the data that is important to you.
Another cool aspect of this page is the chart itself. It shows you the recent visitors which is displayed on the same graph as last months visitors. This is done so that you see a direct correlation between last months numbers and this months.
It grays out last months, and give you green and blue for this months. showing a day to day comparison which can even be zoomed in to view up close. Pretty slick feature.
4 More Screens Of Data
As if those last two screens were not enough, there are 4 more screens of data that is just as filterable (by clicking), as the first two pages. For those admins such as ourselves who want to know more the following screens offer a wealth of information:
- Visitors – understand your users: browsers, languages, IP Address, Visit Duration
- Content – stats for pages and posts, downloads, links, feeds, landing pages
- Traffic – referrers, countries, IP, Spy View, Top Traffic Sources
- World Map – Graphical representation of where people are coming from.
Even after all of this, we have yet to cover exactly WHY WE LOVE IT SO MUCH.
As security professionals, we love the interaction WP Slim Stats has for digging deeper into the stats as available through the stats interface. In order to give a clearer idea of what we mean, let’s consider the following scenario.
You go through a lot of effort to post content and advertise a site. You expect to see an increase of traffic. Only to find your site has been so heavily trafficked that the site is not working properly, perhaps super slow.
Upon checking the stats you notice a few clicks to pages you know are not user accessible, perhaps your admin pages or registration pages on a private blog.
Immediately you see that this was from an out of the way IP address somewhere in China or Ukraine. Knowing you have no customer base in those areas you assume this is perhaps some form of hacking attempt. So you decide to dig deeper.
One quick click on the overview page shows a singular Chinese flag emblem, so go ahead an click it to sort all stats by that country. Immediately you see tons of traffic from spiders and bots from the same IP address targeting your login pages.
You can see that this is likely an attack of some sort. As an admin, you know what it means to have to repair a website or deal with an irate owner who is wondering why the site is down. Not to worry.
Once you take a look, you can see the offending IP Addresses within a few clicks. Feel free to go to your Security plugin and ban the IP Address you just found. Then move on to the next data mining adventure.
We have nothing against traffic from around the world, we depend upon it too. But we do not like traffic from sources that are questionable. Anyone attempting to hack your site, steal your content, or disrupt your service should be avoided, and that is what the WP Slim Stat plugin does for us. It allows us to know as little or as much information about the website, traffic and visitors, to allow us to make proper security decisions for our sites and clients.
Grab the plugin from the WordPress.Org Repository here: