Stats: Statcounter versus Mint

We are currently relatively happy customers of SiteCounter.

I even worked with Aodhan on getting improving the keyword stats. Out of our discussions in 2005, the single and opaque Keyword Analyis became three separate: Keyword Analysis, Recent Keyword Activity and Search Engine Wars. Aodhan was a joy to work with.

Statcounter-Summary
Statcounter-Summary

Since then Statcounter has gradually dated. What's worse is Aodhan is running a bit of a software bait and switch - one worthy of Microsoft. Since September 2004, Aodhan has been promising us Advanced Statcounter.

The one great defect of Statcounter is that it only gives you data for the most recent period. How much depends on the size of your paid log.

Advanced Statcounter is supposed to solve this problem and make it possible to do useful historical comparison.

Frankly, I'm tired of waiting.

An even bigger issue with Statcounter these days, is that I don't really want to be running third party cookies on my sites anymore. Why not?

  1. Too many people (including me) are blocking anything third party.
  2. Third party cookies slow sites down (some browsers wait for the cookie to load before finishing its page build). If the stats tracker's own server is running slowly or down, it will give your site a bad case of the hiccups. This means you are dependent on not one but three servers to be running perfectly to get fast page loads.

We are all about fast sites (goodbye Mambo/Joomla!) so I'd like our stats tracked locally. I'm also looking to dump Google Analytics as I feel Google has too much of my data and I don't enjoy working with the Google Analytics suite. It's too slow to load and too heavy to leaf through. Plus I can't imagine training our clients to use Google Analytics. Many of them like and use Statcounter. Our clients are top professionals in real estate and insurance but are neither statisticians nor geeks.

Onto this rather dismal scene of third party javascript and cookies and aging code, Mint has leaped in Web 2.0 splendour.

Mint-Stats-440X327
Mint-Stats-440X327

At $30/license per site, Mint is priced to sell. Until Google Analytics came along, many of the big stats companies like Urchin and Webstats and all were seeking $500/site or $500/site/month.

You install Mint's PHP code on your clients own site. And you get very scrumptious stats. No third party calls of any kind. No shared data. Sounds great.

But I wasn't convinced. One of the great advantages of Statcounter is that it's very quick and easy to install with no maintenance - a third party server.

It looks like Joost de Valk has come up with the solution. For all your sites on a single web server, you can create a single core install of Mint and run all the sites stats from that install (you'll still need a license for each site):

I run three instances of Mint, and if I worked "the normal way" doing one of it's rather frequent updates would mean having to copy the same files three times. Since I'm lazy, I don't feel like doing that. What I've done is pick one "main" Mint install, and symlink all files in other directories except the config file to that directory

We'll be trying this in the next couple of weeks (we have a server move in the works so it's not worth starting until that's done).

In combination with a javascript stats program, I strongly recommend running a server based version. My preference is for AWstats (which the otherwise amenable Gordon Hudson of Hostroute has done everything possible to prevent us from running) but one can make do with Webalizer.

One small issue has surfaced with Mint. It doesn't keep track of return visitors (Statcounter does) which is a pity as return visitors is a great indication of health in an e-commerce site.

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7 Responses to Stats: Statcounter versus Mint

  1. C. Glenn

    I feel statcounter is old news – they have really let their service slide. A great up and commer is GoStats. What really is impressive is that they do not have a log limit like statcounter does. You should check them out.

  2. Hello Craig,

    Thanks for the suggestion. I partially agree about Statcounter. On the other hand, Gostats look even clunkier than Statcounter.

    What is it that you like about Gostats?

  3. C. Glenn

    Looks can be deceiving at first – you really grow to like gostats. There seems to be a superior UI. My favorite feature is the last guests list – but overall the depth of features allow me to understand my site much better. (much more detailed reporting that doesn’t rely on cookies). Plus there isn’t a log limit. I could go on… ;)

  4. Hello Craig,

    Please do go on. I’d really like to know why I should switch services. I am looking for better stats.

    What are the comparative costs like for a full feature set (not the free demo)?

  5. C. Glenn

    Hi Alec,

    Indeed, here are some important features with gostats:
    -bounce rate (helps to determine you incomming traffic quality/relevancy)
    -break down of true visitors, page views, sessions, and even IP hosts.
    -Unique visitors can be determined by the day and by the month. (True monthly-unique counts are rare because most often the short cut is to sum the total of each day)
    -”click out” reports
    -”Alert” feature: sends you a message if your taffic meets a pre-set condition.

    Overall, it is quite comprehensive with the ability to compare various stats on various specific dates. There is no log limit (statcounter limits to 100 hits or 500 hits)

    Also, the price is right for the pro version, only $8 per month.

    I hope to visit Bratislava some day – the climate is perfect for me. :)

  6. So, in terms of the pro version – is that a per domain price?

    If so, it’s not quite as nice and flexible as Statcounter which lets you divide your hits among all your websites.

    One thing I don’t like about Statcounter is its tendency to double and triple-count numerous single search arrivals. Perhaps Gostats would be better in this regard.

  7. C. Glenn

    Yes, it’s per site I believe. But dividing the log between several sites leaves very little room for data. GoStats doesn’t drop any of your historical data for each domain.

    I’m not certain abou the search engine counting – you would have to ask them about that.

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