Website analytics are used to track visitors’ activity, in order to evaluate business growth, determine user portrait, customers’ behavior tendency, etc. To monitor and analyze these metrics, you need proven tools integrated with your website. There are plenty of tools to choose from, each touting solutions to your problems. Choosing the right one can be difficult, as there are many factors involved. You should also consider things like server load, the trustworthiness of a service provider, and cost before you decide on a particular tool.
In this guide, we give you a list of proven solutions for WordPress visitor tracking. You will learn about how to choose the right tool for your specific needs.
Google Analytics for WordPress
Google Analytics is a must-know service for tracking and reporting website statistics. This tool provides you with data about the number of visitors and sessions, bounce rate, session duration, and other important metrics.
They provide five reports to start analyzing the data.
- Real-time Report helps to track user activity as it occurs at the present moment. It consists of six sections: Overview, Locations, Traffic sources, Content, Events, and Conversions.
- Audience Report contains 16 sections with multiple metrics that describe the audience portrait. For example, the Demographics section shows user behavior, acquisition, conversion according to Age and Gender. In the Behaviour section, you can track the number of New and Returning visitors, page views and sessions.
- Acquisition Report shows all the sources of your website traffic. You can view the number of sessions from organic search, traffic generated by paid campaigns, etc.
- Behavior Report shows how users interact with site content. You can track events here.
- Conversions Report helps you visualize user path through sales funnel, find out the number of goal completions, etc.
Why do you need Google Analytics? You will get answers to the following list of questions.
- How much traffic does my website generate?
- Who are my visitors? (Demographics, geo-metrics, interests, etc.)
- How did they find my website? (Organic search, referral channels, etc.)
- What are the TOP pages of your website?
- What pages need more work, in order to attract more users?
- How long do visitors browse my website?
To track users’ activity via Google Analytics, some programming code needs to be added to your website manually, or via a WordPress plugin. The first approach is perhaps complicated, for beginners, and can seem overwhelming to analyze all the metrics that are available. The learning curve for the Analytics dashboard might disincent some users, such that they will not reap the benefits.
Plugins, on the other hand, are easy to install and allow you to view Google Analytics statistics directly from your WordPress admin dashboard.
Let’s take a look at our list of the most popular WordPress visitor tracking plugins, starting with some Google Analytics plugins.
Google Analytics Dashboard for WP by ExactMetrics (GADWP) has over one million installations. With this plugin, you can view reports from your WordPress dashboard. You can track key statistics such as real-time visitors’ activity, traffic channels, and page views. Also, you can use advanced options that you would see in the native Google Analytics dashboard. For example, you can set up event tracking. Additionally, you can set up personal permissions for access to specific reports in the WordPress dashboard. There are also different access levels, which can be assigned to different employees/groups.
The service is free of charge but still requires effort to develop your own strategy to analyze the statistics.
MonsterInsights has more than two million active installations. This plugin simplifies working with Google Analytics. But, it comes with a cost – starting at about $100 a year. The company created a user-friendly interface with seven main blocks (Overview, Publishers, eCommerce, Search Console, Dimensions, Forms, Real-Time). They provide clients with structured reports and statistics that ‘really matter’.
- Audience Report shows visitors’ age, gender, devices they use and their locations/regions.
- Behavior Report is about the ways users find your website, how they respond to its elements.
- Content Report shows you which pages get the most traffic.
- Ecommerce Report shows the conversion rate, the number of transactions, the average order value, etc.
- Forms Report shows the conversion rate for different forms on your website (contact, lead, etc.)
- Search Console Report shows your SEO rankings and optimization opportunities.
- Custom Dimensions Report gives you the ability to define complex criteria and compiles the statistics for you. For example, you might wish to sort your blog authors by the number of user responses they get.
You can get all these reports into your WordPress dashboard with just a few clicks. MonsterInsight is a convenient tool for publishers, e-commerce websites, and advertising agencies.
Visitor tracking by Yoast
Yoast SEO plugin is extremely popular with WordPress users. It has 5 million active installations. It mainly helps websites with search engine optimization.
Prior to April 2016, Yoast owned the Google Analytics plugin. Then, Yoast transferred the rights to it to MonsterInsights. Now, Yoast shouldn’t be considered a WordPress plugin to track visitors.
Learn more about the new home for the Analytics plugin.
Wp Statistics has roughly 500 000 installations. The last update was in January 2020. This tool creates a statistics database on your host server, which will require maintenance. If unattended, the size of this database can lead to webpage loading problems. The plugin’s data collection methodology differs from that of Google Analytics. Hence, the number of users in WP Statistics can appear to be even twice as many as in GA.
You can view graphs and visually-presented statistics with this plugin. Select options, such as TOP most-visited pages, TOP common browsers in the plugin menu, to add them to the dashboard. WP Statistics is a free plugin. However, there is a paid Premium version that has many additional features. Here is a complete list of WP Statistics features:
This WordPress visitor tracker can be used in conjunction with other trackers to get an alternate view of your website stats.
JetPack by WordPress.com is a multi-functional plugin for site management and security. It has over 5 million installations. JetPack is a must-have plugin for WordPress websites because it provides a wide range of essential tools. You can start to use it for free, with limited functionality. However, there are additional features that are available if you are willing to pay monthly fees. Take a look at the following chart:
Once you activate JetPack, you will get Site Stats as one of its options. Simply add the Site Stats widget to your WP dashboard, and you can track the number of visitors, TOP pages, and searches. For advanced statistics, go to JetPack – Site Stats on the plugin menu. Additionally, using JetPack, you can request more detailed reports from WordPress.com.
That is how the plugin by WordPress tracks visitors.
StatCounter is a reputable traffic analysis service with a specialized plugin for WordPress. The plugin has 100,000 active installations and was last updated in March 2019. You can try StatCounter free for 30 days.
The tool’s advanced features help to dig deeper into the website statistics. You can analyze Google keyword data; get info of user paths on a website, etc.
Heap is a service for tracking visitors’ activity on websites and apps. Its distinguishing feature is codeless virtual events creation. You can track clicks, swipes or other visitor interactions. It is free, with a limitation of 5,000 sessions per month. However, you can create unlimited virtual events for both web and mobile.
Heap doesn’t provide a WordPress plugin for tracking visitors directly from your dashboard. Instead, you integrate it with your website by filling out the registration form and following the instructions.
AFS Analytics is an all-in-one solution for tracking user behavior, analyzing SEO metrics, and creating e-commerce reports. Its special feature is heatmaps, which are visual presentations of the most popular areas of your webpage.
This tool gives you access to detailed visitor profiles. You can schedule reports daily, weekly, to view the results of your marketing campaigns.
How to track visitors on WordPress with AFS analytics? The plugin is available on WordPress.org. It has roughly 1000 installations. Here is a manual on how to install the plugin: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5cd084wyPNo&feature=youtu.be
It has a free plan for professional websites, which limits you to 10,000 page views.
Google provides Analytics 360 for advanced users in large enterprises. This tool provides businesses with expanded capabilities and features. For example, data freshness in Google Analytics is typically between 12-48 hours, while the Analytics 360 premium service can produce reports with data freshness of only 1 hour. Another example of advanced features is 200 custom dimensions, compared to 20 in Google Analytics Free version.
You can find a detailed comparison of these Google tools here.
Without a doubt, you can integrate Analytics 360 with your WordPress websites.
Here is the list of the Premium Analytics features: https://marketingplatform.google.com/about/analytics-360/features/.
Let’s sum up all the tools in one list.
- Google Analytics is a profoundly useful service for visitor tracking. It is the standard tool for analyzing website traffic, user behavior, business growth, and marketing campaigns. You can use this service by adding Analytics code manually on your website or by installing the plugin.
- GADWP by ExactMetrics helps to track analytics data in the WordPress dashboard. You will get access to key metrics and advanced statistics free of charge.
- MonsterInsights provides clients with structured data and customized reports. However, you will pay for the convenience.
- Yoast does not have solutions for tracking user activity. Their Analytics plugin is now owned by MonsterInsights.
- WP Statistics is an alternative to Google Analytics. You can use it as an additional tool to monitor website traffic.
- JetPack plugin has free and premium versions, for website security and performance. Site Stats is an extra feature you can use after plugin activation.
- StatCounter operates with large amounts of data. However, their WordPress plugin has 100K installations and was last updated in March 2019.
- Heap is for virtual events tracking. There is no Heap plugin available now. The free version of Heap limits you to 5K sessions per month.
- AFS Analytics is a tool with advanced features for professional websites. With only 1,000 installations, it isn’t very popular. Perhaps the company caters to a specialized clientele.
- Analytics 360 provides large enterprises with advanced features, which are not available in standard Google Analytics. It works with several other Google Premium tools, to provide clients with the most comprehensive data analysis.