Running a WordPress website is one of the most powerful ways to gain exposure for your content, products, or to build a community around a certain issue or organization. Without traffic however, no matter what your business sells, you'll be dead in the water.
How can you tell if your site has traffic though? And if you know it's getting visitors due to engagement, where are those visitors coming from? The answers to these questions, and others, can give you great insight into how to grow your business quickly, effectively, and most important…profitably.
There are some very basic stats features plugins out there, but but they are quite generic, and won't tell you much beyond “how many visits” you had over a period of time. They definitely does not give you enough insight to build that strategy. You still wouldn't know who to target or what acquisition channels to focus on. That is where traffic tracking plugins come in handy. In this article, we will go through 10 of the strongest and most popular WP traffic-tracking plugins and what each of them would let you know about your website's performance.
WP Statistics by Verona Labs
- Price: Free
This plugin is a fairly overarching one to manage your WP statistics through. For most regular WP websites, it eliminates the need for any external plugins or add-on features to supplement it. It works just fine on its own. So, here's what it does for you.
First off, this plugin tracks all the basics like the number of visits and visitors, the per-page stats, etc. As for its search engine statistics, they include each of Google, Yahoo, Bing, Yandex, and DuckDuckGo. Basically any search engine with a worthwhile user base. It even provides you with the locations of your visitors based on their GeoIP.
Keep in mind that Verona Labs constructed the database features in this plugin in a way that enables you to preserve your visitors' privacy through hashing their saved information, most particularly their IP addresses. You can still manage to trace down all the details despite that, though. The plugin comes with an interactive map that lets you keep track of your visitors' geographical locations.
You also get to customize the types of users that you want to be included in your stats. For example, you don't want your visits and those of your other admins to be included since that can kind of distort your results. This plugin allows you to exclude users based on their roles like in the case we just mentioned, or their IP subnets, the pages they visit on your website, location, number of visits, and many other criteria. This feature is essential for segmentation and the customized information it produces is definitely something your website can benefit from.
Most importantly, there is no use of all of these tracking methods if in the end you are not kept up to speed with it. This plugin gives you an e-mail reporting option. You can even keep your users updated about your statistics by adding a widget with up-to-minute information. You can rest assured that no old or irrelevant information would be included, by the way, because the plugin automatically trims off old data. Moreover, you can export the data captured by the plugin to XML, TSV, or CSV files.
- Price: $39 – $199
The basic function of this plugin as conveyed in its slogan is “make Google Analytics simple for WordPress.” That is exactly what it does, and it does it marvelously. It allows you to have a Google Analytics dashboard inside your normal WordPress dashboard without much manual technical work on your part. Just a few clicks for authentication and you the tracking code is added to your website.
The statistics you get from Analytify cover users' countries, cities, referrer browsers and referrer websites. For each of these sets of findings, the plugin provides you with lists of your top visitor sources. You also receive social media and mobile device statistics, as well as specific campaign stats. These statistics are shown to you in real-time on your dashboard, and using simple shortcodes you can add CSS-customizable widgets on your website so that your users, too, can view that information. All of the data is divided up based on criteria that allow for more precise tracking of your website's traffic. You receive reports of the average duration of your visitors' sessions, the bounce rate, as well as your new and recurrent visitors.
One unique aspect of Analytify is that it does not only track traffic like most plugins, but even indirectly helps to increase it. That's because Analytify actually provides its own search engine optimization features.
Google Analytics Dashboard for WP (GADWP)
Because there are so many tracking plugins that use Google Analytics, you need to understand what distinguishes them from one another. Google Analytics is a framework capable of producing vast oceans of scattered data. These plugins differ in how they customize and present that data in the form of readable statistics. GADWP is a master when it comes to its presentation features.
Besides the regular stats that any Google Analytics-based plugin can produce, GADWP is capable of running in-depth page/post reports with extra segmentation for higher tracking precision. It can do that with every single page on your website down to the tiniest performance details which can be surprisingly beneficial to your appraisal and targeting capabilities.
These details include locations, traffic and acquisition channels like social networks and search engines, device types and brands, browsers, operating systems, and even the resolution of the screens through which visitor view your website. It also covers organic and paid searches separately, downloads, bounce rates, page scrolling depth, views per page, and the number of sessions. All of that information is presented in real-time inside your WP dashboard.
The GADWP plugin installs all of the latest Google Analytics codes without you having to do any of that manually, and these include a plethora of options that are all customizable to your use. It allows the hashing of IP addresses, enhanced link attribution, the exclusion of user roles, and a world of other features. GADWP basically allows you to benefit from all of Google Analytics' tracking capabilities even if you are a complete code newbie.
With over 1 million active users and an update just 1 day before I wrote this review, this is one of your best choices for internal WP plugins that track your traffic stats.
Analytics Cat – Google Analytics
- Price: Free
Since we just mentioned newbies with our last plugin, Analytics Cat is worth being brought up. It is the perfect fit for anyone who is not so WP- or Google Analytics-savvy and will save you a ton of effort if you are not really looking for the most advanced features. The whole point of this plugin is easing the installation of Google Analytics code into your WP website and getting all the essential features out of it. They would not be as far-reaching or precise as the ones provided by GADWP, for example, but not every website operator really needs that many details.
Don't get this the wrong way. Analytics Cat still has a decent list of features that will totally up your tracking capabilities. It even supports Universal Analytics, the new version of Google Analytics. More importantly, this is one of the few plugins that allow you to conceal your Google Analytics code from your users, which could protect you from any attempts from someone to mess up your stats by hacking or other unintentional ways.
Google Analytics by Sumo
- Price: Basic (Free) – Professional ($24/month) – Small Business ($59/month) – E-Commerce ($199/month)
Again working with the Google Analytics framework, Sumo is a perfect popularity measurement tool for your website. What distinguishes it from the other “make Google Analytics easy” plugins is that it even makes it easier for you to track your numbers. Sumo has a whole package of stat-customization features that let you choose which numbers exactly you want showing on your dashboard. You can choose as many as you want, but for the sake of efficiency, many site operators would find it better if they can be shown just the two or three particular statistics that they care to follow, and view the rest in certain exceptional cases when they need them.
Also, Sumo gives you the option to activate stat widgets on each page that show you certain numbers for that page alone. You can customize these widgets separately to show different numbers for each page, and they only appear inside the pages for you as an admin while hidden from the users.
- Price: Basic (Free) – Personal ($3.50/month) – Premium ($9/month) – Professional ($29/month)
The Jetpack plugin lets you in on a level of detail in viewing your Google Analytics results like very few others. In fact, Jetpack is recommended by WordPress.org!
Once you install Jetpack and connect it to WordPress, the plugin is automatically activated and your stats are accessible. You then choose where to view them and what exactly you want to know. Either you activate a stats widget on your main WP dashboard or visit the stats tab inside the Jetpack dashboard if you want more in-depth reports for particular posts or pages, or for even more detailed reports you have the plugin's “Show Me” button.
The settings and configurations of your stats are easy to alter on Jetpack. You get to choose the numbers you want to see consistently, and you get to choose which of the registered users of your website (admins, contributors, editors, etc.) that get to view the stats and which of them should have their visits counted in the overall stats. Besides the detailed stats, the Jetpack plugin adds a sparkline to the admin bar that appears at the top when you open your website as admin. That sparkline represents the general trend on your website for the last 48 hours. That's pretty efficient since you don't need to know all the details at all times, so you can track everything through that simplistic graph until you feel like you need to see a specific number.
This plugin is pretty extensive in terms of its stat filters. It gives you everything from page views to bounce rates, session durations, and it can even detect spamming activity and give you the numbers for your comments minus the spam factor. That's smarter than most analytics plugins!
Watch out for Jetpack though, since it's been known to greatly slow down websites where it's activated. Personally, I would never install this plugin or recommend that anyone else does. So why is it on my list? It's popular, well developed, and works like it's supposed to. It's a good plugin. I just don't like it.
Google Analytics by MonsterInsights
- Price: Basic ($39/year) – Plus ($99/year) – Pro ($199/year)
The quality of this plugin is beyond doubt among the highest in the traffic-tracking area. It was developed by Yoast before MonsterInsights bought it, both of whom are quite gigantic names. There are many things about this plugin that are similar to Analytify, most importantly that it, too, adds Google Analytics to the normal WP dashboard without adding its separate dashboard. It was developed with the aim of eliminating the need for a developer when you just want to add Google Analytics to your site like it used to be in the past. It's actually the most popular WP Google Analytics plugin, having been downloaded by over 15 million people worldwide!
It lets you track the activity on outbound links, downloads, affiliate and internal links, and pretty much most sources of traffic that any GA plugin would provide. Since there isn't much that you wouldn't know by now about Google Analytics, let's go through one feature of MonsterInsights that would definitely be of value to you if you run an e-commerce website using either the WooCommerce or Easy Digital platforms. That is the MonsterInsights eCommerce add-on. This add-on feature lets you track the activity in your online store using Google Analytics, including your most popular products, the average value of orders, conversion rates, etc.
This type of plugin is something I could recommend, since it adds real value above just “tracking traffic” like many freebie plugins do. This is a way to help you earn more money from your website.
This one is quite popular in the WP community, with more than 3.5 million downloads in total. It's user-friendly, easy to install, and it allows you access to most Google Analytics features with very few steps. Upon installing it, you get to view your website's numbers and stats through dashboard widgets or on your website's various pages. So, what does Analyticator have to offer?
First off, this plugin supports both Universal Analytics (the new analytics.js framework) and traditional analytics (the ga.js framework that was deprecated by Google). Although the latter is no longer approved of by Google, some users still prefer it over Universal Analytics and not many plugins still offer it.
On your dashboard, a summary of your website's performance in the last 30 days is shown inside a widget, including a list of your top pages, referrers, and search keywords. Similar widgets can be added to your website's frontend, and you can choose whether to make them publicly visible or only to registered users. Moreover, it tracks outbound links (WP-managed or not), download links, site speed, etc., allowing you to turn on or off whichever features you wish to utilize.
Most importantly, it supports any updates made on Google Analytics' code, which makes it one of a few plugins that support possibly every Google Analytics framework ever introduced.
- Price: Free
Having spoken about quite a few Google Analytics-based plugins, let's talk about some who offer their own framework. as an alternative. The Clicky plugin operates by installing to your website its own Clicky Web Analytics tracking code which lets you receive your stat reports in a widget on your WP admin dashboard. These include the very basic stats like total users, time average, etc, in addition to more advanced stats like bounce rates, organic searches, outgoing links, and the average number of actions taken on your pages.
It has the option to give you a display of your most-visited pages, as well as your top referrers and traffic sources, up to the top 30. It also tracks the top keywords that most frequently lead visitors to your website.
Here's something unique about Clicky: It provides you with information on visitors' video actions on your website (e.g. how many people viewed a video that you uploaded or embedded, how long they spent on average watching the video, etc.) Another unique thing is that it includes a cache feature that actually speeds up the loading rate for your website's pages.
W3Counter Free Real-Time Web Stats
- Price: Free
W3Counter has produced a wide family of plugins with myriads of awesome functions. Simplicity and practicality are always at the center of these plugins' designs. Its WP stats plugin is no different. All you need to do is install the plugin and add it to your WP dashboard and you are good to go – all for free and for an unlimited period! It is pretty well-designed for a free plugin, too.
This plugin gives real-time reports on your daily, weekly, and monthly averages in terms of page views, countries of visitors, the languages in which your website is viewed, and many other stats. You get to know your recent visitors' IP addresses if you choose to, as well as the browsers, operating systems, and screen resolutions & sizes that your website is most visited through. The reports also include your most popular posts/pages, and the sites and pages that most link to your site or drive traffic to it.
I've always been a fan of Google Analytics and Search Console (previously Webmaster Tools) for my traffic analytics. They are free, easy to install, and won't slow down your website. My main issue with the majority of these plugins is that they are completely unnecessary except to simply Analytics for newbies. The main exception would be the Monster Insights plugin, which provides a concrete type of value above and beyond what Google Analytics can do.
In that case, I think that plugin would be useful for an affiliate or ecommerce site owner who's already making money, and is looking to optimize conversions, grow traffic, and squeeze more money out of each visit to their website.
Otherwise, to be honest, I wouldn't recommend installing a traffic tracking plugin. They'll just slow down your site and distract you with statistics. Use Google Analytics to start, and when it starts to become “not enough” for you, you can start looking for more ways to analyze your traffic.
What if that's you right now? Are you looking for something beyond Google Analytics? I'd highly recommend you check out SEMRush. It's expensive, but has been the most useful tool I've added to my business growth toolkit in a long time.
What traffic plugins do you use and do they slow down your website?
Do you only use Google Analytics?
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