Track and Monitor the Performance of your WordPress Site with Free Analytic Software
After your site design has been perfected, content has been created and infrastructure has been put in place, the next thing many website owners look for is a way to determine the number of visitors it gets. In addition, WordPress site owners want to know what Posts and Pages their visitors go to, what Countries they come from, the keywords used to find it and how long they stay. This is where analytic or stats software comes into play.
As with all things digital your options are nearly endless. For the majority of users however, there are two clear choices; Jetpack by WordPress and Google Analytics. There are pros and cons to each and in this article we will outline which options might be best for you and how to get them up and running.
Google’s free website statistics platform is known for it’s ease of installation and robust feature set. It offers the most expansive statistics available and includes conversion and event based tracking as well as fully detailed reporting and real time monitoring. If you need to track traffic across multiple URLs or monitor your WooCommerce powered eCommerce site, Google Analytics is the right choice for you.
Google Analytics Pros:
- Fully featured in-depth analytic reporting
- Real time monitoring
- Extremely customizable
- Easy to install
- Great for eCommerce sites
Google Analytics Cons:
- Intimidating interface
- Complex, advanced best practices
- Difficult to troubleshoot
Installing Google Analytics Manually via FTP
1) Visit http://www.google.com/analytics/ and click “create an account.” Click the red “sign up” button in the upper right hand corner.
2) Fill out the fields, and verify your email when done. Click “back to Google Analytics.” On the far right, select Start Using Google Analytics.
3) Select the program you want, Classic or Universal (Classic is fine, Universal offers more features, but is still in beta, meaning it’s not quite finished.) We are going to use Classic for this tutorial.
4) Create an account name. (This can be the name of your site, your name, the name of your organization etc.) Fill in the rest of the fields, and leave the check boxes as is (change them only if you know what you are doing). Hit “get tracking ID” and agree to the terms and conditions.
Google analytics will direct you automatically to the page containing your tracking ID and tracking code.
Some themes offer built in support for tracking IDs. If yours is one of them, you can copy/paste this number in the field. This tutorial will assume your theme does not, and we will have to insert the tracking code manually.
5) Scroll down and copy the entire tracking code.
6 ) Access your sites files via FTP. Because we want the code to track every page on our WordPress site, we will insert the code into our “header”file. (Located at wp-content > themes > your theme > header.php.)
7) Copy your header file to your desktop (back up) before altering it, just in case something goes wrong you can go back to a clean copy of this important file. Within the header file, you want to put the code in the <head>section. Place it at the very bottom, right before the closing </head> tag. Save the file.
In a few minutes, the status on the same page you received your tracking code will change from “tracking not installed” to “receiving data.” If after a few hours, it has not changed. Try the process again, the most likely culprit is the tracking code was placed in the wrong spot. If you are using a tracking ID and the status does not change, try manually installing Google Analytics.
How to Install Google Analytics via the use of a plugin…
Step 1: install the “Ultimate Google Analytics” plugin
Step 2: Activate the plugin
Step 3: Log into your GA account and add the website URL
Step 4 : copy the “Web Property ID” looks like this: UA-805456-74
Step 5: Go back to the WordPress admin and go to Settings > Ultimate GA > paste in your ID and click “Update Options”
JetPack is the easiest option for tracking your WP site performance and offers a great deal more than just analytic software. (For this article however, we will focus on the stats component of the plugin.) JetPack is a multifunctional plugin created by WordPress. It comes standard on WordPress.com installations, and can be easily configured on your self hosted WordPress.org set up.
- Easy setup
- Supported by WordPress community
- Simple Information Display
- Resides in your WordPress Installation
- Simple display and metrics
- Limited analytic functionality
- Bloats your WordPress dashboard
- Cost associated with some features
- Simple display and metrics
- Requires WordPress.com membership
Installing the JetPack Plugin
1) Sign up for an account with WordPress.com (you don’t have to use the blog you create! Name it whatever, but it’s recommended you don’t use the same name as your site to avoid confusion and SEO problems).
2) Download the plug in from the WordPress plugins directory, or by searching for it from your Plugins dashboard.
3) Install and activate your new plugin.
4) Jetpack will prompt you to connect to your WordPress.com account. This is to connect to WordPress’ servers and allow you access to most of Jetpack’s features.
5) Visit the “Jetpack” link from your Dashboard and hit “Activate” under “Stats.”
You now have access to JetPack’s analytics software!