Choosing an Analytics Plugin

January 8, 2010

I’ve been looking for plugins for the WordPress blogs at the new and exciting WanderNote site. In particular, I’ve been looking at analytics/statistics plugins. One such is WordPress.com Stats, a plugin that essentially provides a self-hosted blog with the stats and reports available at WordPress.com.

I’m familiar with those stats, because I have this and other blogs at WordPress.com. But I wanted to try something different and maybe get to know Google Analytics. Searching the plugin directory at WordPress.org for analytics yielded 150 results: there’s no shortage of plugins these days.

The two big analytics plugins, in terms of downloads from the directory, are Google Analyticator and Google Analytics for WordPress. Each has over 700,000 downloads, and each was updated within the last month or two. Those statistics are I believe more telling than the average rating, provided the average is 4/5 or more, and indeed the rating is right around that mark for each plugin.

So I installed each of the two in a different WanderNote blog, in order to see some differences. There were mainly similarities: set up a profile in Google Analytics, tell the plugin about that profile, wonder why things don’t seem to be working, realize that it takes hours for Analytics to get going…

A difference showed up right away on the blog dashboards. Analyticator added an analytics summary which, by the way, started showing visits before the Google Analytics site itself. Analytics for WordPress added the latest news from Yoast: the feed from the plugin developer’s blog. Score one – probably the decisive one – for Analyticator, and for its developer, Ronald Heft.

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