I’d like to have a rather better idea of how many people read my blog (directly and via RSS/Atom) than I get from Extreme Tracking, which I implemented quickly when I started the blog and is now well out of date.
What’s free and good? :-) Recommendations?
Google analytics, your own web server logs and something like feedburner?
Google Analytics best evar.
Just like with a print newspaper or magazine, there’s no reliable way to know exactly how many people read it. The best you can do really is track how many copies you’re sending out.
You can try to pin it down a little better than just a raw number of hits, e.g., by counting unique IP addresses, but it’s still an estimate: multiple people can share a single address, and on the other hand dialup users typically get a fresh address (from a pool of thousands) each time they connect. You can try to supplement the IP-address info with cookies, but I’d bet money that the people who read your particular blog are more likely than average to limit the lifespan of cookies to the session and/or clear them out regularly.
If you provide RSS and Atom feeds, there’s also the possibility of syndication, which complicates the matter even further. If your content is appearing elsewhere for ALL visitors to some other site you could probably find that out by doing a web search, but there are website-based aggregators and feed readers, which individual users can customize with their own list of blogs. Blogger provides that feature, for instance. To my knowledge there is no easy way to tell how many Blogger users have you in their “blogroll”. Of course, that just gives them the titles; if they click through to one of the actual articles, their browser would then load the page directly, so they’d be easier to count then.
wp-stats-dashboard places many stats widgets directly in your dashboard. It also adds a widget that shows interesting blog metrics like
Total Views, Busiest day, Views today, Google pagerank, Google social graph, Google backlinks
Alexa rank, Technorati rank. Del.icio.us saves, Compete rank, Mozrank, Postrank, Yahoo rank, Digg listings, Site age, Site value estimation.
Dave: that would be great, but this blog runs on MT!