I always recommend using self-hosted WordPress instead of the free version, as you end up having much more control over your site. However, one area in which I’ve always felt a bit cheated with WordPress.org sites is the lack of built-in stats monitoring. I guess this is why most bloggers end up using sites like Google Analytics to keep track of things – myself included.
There are also third-party WordPress plugins available which provide some of this functionality – I wrote about one such statistics plugin a few months back. But a couple of days ago I stumbled across another plugin – that provides the bona fide WordPress.com stats within a WordPress.org blog! Now, this is not a new plugin – it’s been around for a couple of years already by the looks of it – but it’s the first I’d heard of it.
As you can see, these are not statistics from my site. Because I only installed it a few days ago, it has not yet collected enough data to be of much use, so I lifted the screenshot from the plugin’s download page (I figured that was OK, since I’m promoting the plugin ).
The following information is displayed on the overview page:
- Recent traffic
- Most popular content
- Search engine phrases that have brought visitors
- Links on your site that visitors clicked
- Incoming links to your site
And each result allows you to drill down further to pull up more detailed stats on a particular post, referrer or search term.
Plugin installation and configuration
Installation of this plugin is very simple – copy it to your
wp-content/plugins folder and activate it via the admin console as usual. The only slight complication is that you need a WordPress.com API key to use it – but this shouldn’t be a problem if you use Aksimet because you can use the same one. If you’re not an Akismet user, simply sign up for a free WordPress.com account to get one. It’s as simple as that.
As I mentioned earlier, it only starts collecting your stats once you’ve set it up, so the information you can get from it will be a bit limited for the first few days.
Because I haven’t had the chance to use it much yet, I’ll still have to see how the information weighs up against what I already get from Google Analytics. My feeling is that I’ll use the plugin stats mainly for day-to-day monitoring, but will use Analytics for more in-depth analysis.
If you’ve used the WordPress.com stats, either on a free or self-hosted blog, please feel free to leave a comment and share your experience, or add anything I’ve missed.