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WordPress Stats Plug-in Review

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on
August 30th, 2009
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WordPress, WordPress Plugins

Stats – Stats – Stats.  They can drive everything for your WordPress site.  They can help you understand how visitors move around your site; how they got there in the first place; what are the most popular posts they are visiting; what browser and OS they are using. The list can go on and on.

I have spent a lot of time over the last few months looking for just the right plug-in to track stats on my WindowsObserver.com website and I think I may have hit the mother lode with my most recent discovery.

CyStats is written by Michael Weingaertner and has been downloaded from the WordPress.org Extend directory 32,435 times over the 23 months it has been available there. The last update was last October so it would be nice to see an update however, it works just fine with the current release of WordPress (2.8.4).

According to the author’s description CyStats provides:

  • Bounce rate, ignore-by-cookie, ignore-by-ip/post-id/user_agent lists
  • hits, visits for day/week/month/year – human or robots
  • Top referring pages
  • Most read categories and tags
  • Most read, most commented posts
  • Most read feeds, number of feed visits today
  • Internal/external search words
  • Operating systems
  • Daily, weekly, monthly and yearly statistics
  • 404 error requests
  • Browsers/clients/tools/…, w/o. version numbers
  • Template tags for most read posts, user count,…
  • Optional IP-anonymizing
  • Multi language support (currently English, German supported).
  • Optional tracking of admin area visits

Set up and installation is very easy – just install in the normal manner either via FTP upload or update within your WordPress Admin Plug-in area. Once it is installed and activated the first stop should be the Options under Settings>CyStats. Here you can configure various database settings, statistics tracking (disable userlevel tracking, admin page stats or anonymize IP’s) as well as setting filtering cookies to block IP’s, User Agents and ignoring requests by page or post ID. This page also has the Delete All function and it is highlighted in bright red – do not use this unless you want to completely remove all CyStats info from your database.

On the lower left side of your Admin panel you will see a link for CyStats and a click on that will take you to the main menu for CyStats:

cystatsmenulink cystatsmainmenu

The Index page is broken down into:

Hits and Visits

cystatshitsandvisits  

Pages and Comments

cystatspagesandcomments

Referrers and Search Words

cystatsreferrerandsearchwords

The Blog page shows recently commented posts; most active comment authors, tags and categories as well as some database statistics for your WordPress site.

cystatsblogscreenshot

The Clients page breaks down  as follows:

Browsers; Operating Systems; Browser versions and tools and scripts (including WordPress)

cystatsclientsscreenshot

Robots and Tools; Unknown user agents

cystatsrobotsandtoolsandunknown

On the Referrer page you will find referrers today, yesterday, external referrers and search engine referrers:

cystatsreferrerscreenshot

The Robots and Tools page is another summary of visits broken down by search engines; email/feed readers; tools and scripts and the unknown user agents:

cystatsrobotsandtoolsscreenshot

When you click on the Pages link you will find a summary of your most visited blog pages today; most visited overall; entry pages to your site; 404 error pages and page types (single, archive, feed, 404, home, page, month, category, search, author, day and year):

cystatspagesscreenshot

The last page is the Time page and this gives you a snapshot of your visitors per day; per hour; per weekday; per week; per month and per year. You also get hits per day; per week; per month and per year.

cystatstimescreenshot

Bottom Line

As you can see from the screenshots this is a very thorough tool and really does give you an in-depth snapshot of your sites visitors. That in turn can help you better layout your site, establish a plan to write on popular subjects and focus your efforts on the areas of your WordPress site that really draws those visitors.  I like this plug-in above others that I have used because it breaks things down between non bot and bot visits which gives me a better idea of human eyes on my site as opposed to machines which can be misleading.

I am very interested in hearing what your favorite methods are for tracking visitors on your website.

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37
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Comments

  1. Takeshi (2 comments.) says:

    Looks like a pretty cool plug-in. Would you say that it is better than using Google Analytics? Or do you use both? Is this a real-time stats tracker? Thanks.

    • WindowsObserver (55 comments.) says:

      I also have Google Analytics on my site – it just seems to miss some visits is all. Therefore I run them both to keep up with everything.

  2. Kirk M (67 comments.) says:

    Interesting plugin. I also like the separation of bots and real visitor aspect as well as breaking post hits down into most visited, most commented, etc. I may have to give this a try on a new site I’m working on.

    For myself, I’ve been using Woopra on my other two sites ever since the Woopra team released the first developer’s build and I’ve been pretty pleased with it’s abilities overall although it doesn’t have some of the capabilities of the CyStats plugin.

    Btw, has there been any apparent slow down of your site since you started using CyStats?

  3. Chip (14 comments.) says:

    I just installed it. I want to see how it works. Sometimes it’s easier to check WordPress, instead of checking both WordPress and Google Analytics.

  4. bubazoo (213 comments.) says:

    I don’t track visitors on my site. I just have no desire to know who is a bot and who isn’t, and how many hits I get, because all of those stats can be manipulated anyways. Someone can reload a page 10,000 times over and over and over and show up as all different users, especially AOL users who’s IP addresses change frequently, like every 10 minutes sometimes. Then you got hackers who spoof IP’s, spoof MAC’s, locations that aren’t correct, like for instance, can anyone tell by looking at my IP that I’m from Indiana? When I do an IP lookup, it says I’m from Chicago, or new york, or someplace like that. I really believe stats are worthless on a blog, or forum, or anywhere else really.

  5. Bryant Smith (7 comments.) says:

    Looks cool, I’ve been using Analytics and crawling my logs the old fashioned way. Will give this a shot though, thanks for the detailed review.

  6. kovshenin (13 comments.) says:

    I personally use Google Analytics and yeah, there are a few hits that aren’t being counted, but I don’t really care, cause the uncounted hits are from a javascript-turned-off browser or a page-not-fully-loaded, which generally is a bounce.

    For serverside statistics I like to use AwStats which works with Apache log files.

  7. Sugar Web Design (2 comments.) says:

    Thanks for the article, I’m looking for a stats solution that will work well on WPMU. Anyone know if this works on MU?

  8. ovidiu (6 comments.) says:

    imho this one has way better graphs: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/mystat/ but it simply won’t work for me and no response fro mthe auithor yet :-(

  9. TK Pandey (2 comments.) says:

    Thanks for the article, I’m looking for a stats solution that will work well on WPMU. Thanks for sharing.

  10. Hoodgrown Magazine (3 comments.) says:

    I’ve been using this plugin for a while on my various wordpress sites and it works well. As someone above stated… sometimes it’s just easier to go into wordpress as opposed to having to log in somewhere else.

    There’s been no slow down in any of my sites.

  11. Manasi (1 comments.) says:

    Hot damn! Fantastic plug in…been a huge Statpress guy but Cystats is awesome! I am looking forward to see how well it reports everything…Thanks for the info!

  12. Kevin Paquet (2 comments.) says:

    I’ve had problems with server side Statistic/Tracking plugins before (points at StatsPress). Since this is server side, I don’t really trust it, I mean, it can cause a lot load to the server when there’s so much information already (just like in Stats Press) correct me if I’m wrong.

    I think I’m happy with my WP Stats and Woopra plugin for now

    :)

  13. Paul Olyslager (5 comments.) says:

    A great post, will certainly try it out… I’ve been using Google Analyticator and WordPress.com Stats, which were a big pain in the behind to implement. What I do miss is a heatmap generator, maybe in the update?

  14. Helene D. (1 comments.) says:

    WassUp is also a good stats alternative. It has many of the same features of Cystats plus a dashboard widget with chart and a digg-like “SPY” option with geolocation (req. Google Maps API key). It is updated more often and has a support forum (www.wpwp.org/forums).

    • Hoodgrown Magazine (3 comments.) says:

      I used to use WassUp a while ago. It was causing conflict with another plugin I was using so I stopped using it and began using Cystats. Maybe I’ll look into it again.

  15. Fadil (3 comments.) says:

    Fascinating! Since many host services incl. processor cycles, it would be interesting to benchmark this plugin in this regard.
    I’ll install it and give it a try.
    :)

  16. Paul Olyslager (5 comments.) says:

    Is it possible exclude the admin section from monitoring? I just started this blog and the admin section is almost the most visited place of the blog :)

    • WindowsObserver (9 comments.) says:

      You can do that on the CyStats option page under the Settings menu on the left side of the Admin interface. Look under the statistics area and the block should be unchecked to not track admin page visits (this is the default setting).

  17. David (2 comments.) says:

    Just started using CyStats mainly because of this post and I truly must say it is a awesome plugin. I’m always checking my stats and I’ve noticed that Google Analytics misses a lot of my hits..

    And statpress kept giving me the same number range…

    But after checking out CyStats it seems both Google Analytics and Statpress were missing a lot of hits.. and oddly enough my Alexa rank kept rising during all of this…

    So in terms of accuracy I think CyStats wins the medal here..

  18. Paul Olyslager (5 comments.) says:

    Any idea how the difference between analytics and CyStats would be explained?
    @WindowsObserver: thanks for showing the admin section; just had to open my eyes :)

    • WindowsObserver (55 comments.) says:

      Paul – I am not sure. I have always had differences between my server logs, any other program I used for stats and Google Analytics.

  19. Rob (1 comments.) says:

    Will CyStats create reports for printing or sending to others? Woopra doesn’t exactly do that. It will allow you to export into CSV the stats, but you then have to format it for presentation for off-line admins.

    Just curious if CyStats has this ability.

    • WindowsObserver (55 comments.) says:

      Cystats does not have any type of report or export feature. That would defintiely be a handy feature to have though.

  20. Harsh Agrawal (8 comments.) says:

    I’m using Analytic, Site meter, Woopra and wp stats plugin .. I feel so worried to add another plugin which may cause instability.. what do you suggest?? Should I remove the Wp stats and try this one?? What about the resource taken by this plugin?

    • WindowsObserver (55 comments.) says:

      I run nearly 35 plugins on my site and do not have any instability or slowdowns. If your concerned and do not mind losing a few days of data to try out this plugin then I suggest deactivating WP-Stats and giving CyStats a run to see how it works for you.

      Best of luck.

  21. Paul Olyslager (5 comments.) says:

    An other question, I have a post where people can download a zip file… is it possible to track the amount of downloads with CyStats? I’m using piwik as well. This tracks the download, but it is not really working so i need a different tool to track it.

  22. jpholland (1 comments.) says:

    I’m looking for stat plugin for my new wp blog, This plugin has been commented well but I find another plugin, automattic stat plugin. Some said this plugin is like for wordpress.com, any Opinion of you?

    thanks, good writing

  23. J says:

    Would you also provide a screenshot of your options page, please? I erased all my settings and don’t know what to use. Thanks!

  24. Aljoscha Rittner (1 comments.) says:

    Hi!

    The visitor calculation is to high. But I’ve created a patch. A short brief instruction in the wordpress forum:

    http://wordpress.org/support/t.....nter-patch

    br, josh.



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