At BlogWorldExpo a few years back I was blown away by one of the tracking / analytics packages on display called Woopra. A few months later I invited Lorelle to WordCamp Las Vegas where she did a demo of the software and gave out private-beta invites out to everybody in attendance. The demo was amazing and I could not wait to get it running on my site. I rushed home and installed it. For as awesome as the demo was, I just wasn't that impressed with the product as I started using it myself. The desktop software constantly gave me trouble and combined with the fact that I wasn't getting a heck of a lot of traffic to my site anyway, Woopra just wasn't something I needed.
Yesterday, a client was asking for a way to track how people were interacting with his site, what pages they were going to, where they were coming from, etc. I remembered Woopra and had him set it up. Assuming he may need a little guidance, I added Woopra to a couple of my sites as well and downloaded the latest version of the desktop app.
What a difference 14 months makes. The latest version of the software is so much quicker than I remember. Clicking between reports is virtually instant. The dashboard gives you a quick overview of your site's activity for the day. Top pages, referrers, latest search queries, keywords and countries. While somebody is actively looking at your site, clicking the ‘Live' button will show you a bunch of information about that visitor. Where they are viewing from, what pages they are looking at, what browser/OS they use, etc.
When you first click the analytics page it shows you information about your visitors. The default page is a day by day view of unique visitors, visits, page views and average time spent per page. From there you can click to see countries, cities, bounce rate, visit duration. The top row of buttons lets you switch between types of information like Visitors, Systems, Pages, Referrers, Searches and a tab that lets you create a custom analysis (which I haven't played with yet). Each of these main tabs has several sub-tabs that let you slice and dice your data and really helps you learn more than you may ever have wanted to know about your website.
There is also a calendar view that provides a month to date total, breakdowns by week, by day of week and by day all on one screen without the data feeling cluttered. Each of the boxes on the screen also shows you a bar graph of the traffic on a per-hour basis. It's not something I'd use for any in-depth analysis, but it's pretty interesting.
The Bells and Whistles
The first thing I noticed was that when I was visiting my own site, it was recording my stats. I immediately went looking for the way to block my IP from being recorded. I didn't have to look too far. Under the Manage tab is a link called Exclude Visits. From the dropdown you choose Visitor IP, type in your IP and click Exclude. No more traffic from your IP will be recorded in the stats. This is really helpful so you don't skew your data. Especially if you, like me, visit your site on a pretty regular basis. (if you don't know how to find your own IP, head over to WhatIsMyIP.com and it will tell you.)
There is also a notifications engine that is really easy to get set up. Click the Create a new Event Notification button and you are presented with a wizard that will walk you through adding a notification for just about anything you could think of having to do with your site. You can base it on specific country, referrer, page title contains, downloaded a file, clicked an external link, browser, screen res, etc, etc, etc… You can have it play a sound or a pop up notification when your criteria is met. I'm not using this at the moment, but I could see it being pretty handy for people who want to know when somebody downloads an ebook or makes a purchase or something like that.
If you are looking for an easy way to learn a boatload about your site's visitors, Woopra is a great place to start! The free version is going to be sufficient for most sites tracking up to 30,000 page views per month. The free version of Woopra has a skyscraper banner ad along the right hand side. The flashing banner I find distracting. Come to think of it, this is a brilliant sale's tool on their part as I'll probably move up to the lowest tier pay service just to get rid of the ad!
I've heard there's an iPhone app in the works for Woopra. Hopefully an iPad version will be right on it's heels. Being able to check stats from anywhere would be awesome.
I'm glad I ended up trying Woopra again. I'm big fan of stats and love seeing how people find my site. There is a ton of information to be had. With a little effort, you could use the information in Woopra to better target your ads. If you aren't looking to drive traffic through ads, just knowing what people are looking at on your blog can help you decide what topics you should be writing more about.
Try out Woopra and then come back and let me know what you thought.