StatCounter vs. Google Analytics

There are a lot of great website data solutions out there. Depending upon what you want to find in your visitor statistics, StatCounter or Google Analytics may be the best solution for you!

Seeing Who’s Visiting Right Now

Winner: StatCounter

If you want a precise look at each visitor as they come through your site, StatCounter is going to be way more helpful to you than Google Analytics. It’s fun to look through logs and see each person’s location, what they clicked on, and how many times they’ve returned. Google Analytics isn’t built to showcase this level of granularity – while it’s possible to find it using GA, it’s not what GA’s purpose is.

StatCounter has a couple of tools perfect for this:

Recent Keyword Activity:

Recent Came From:

Individual IP:

If, in a moment, you want a snapshot of where people are coming from and what they’re doing on your site, StatCounter is perfect!

Alternatives: Chartbeat, Clicky

Making Website Decisions

Winner: Google Analytics

While StatCounter is perfect for looking at individual visitors, Google Analytics is perfect for looking at the aggregate. When making decisions about changes to your website (such as what navigation may be best, or knowing your top-visited content from different sources), looking at aggregate numbers is most helpful. StatCounter does provide a lot of this information, but Google is the best as letting you filter and analyze the data.

Let’s say I want to know what a certain group of users is doing on the site, separate from all other users. For example, if I run a Facebook ad, I want to see what content these users went to, and what their average interaction with the site was compared to all the users who visited my site during that time.

Or maybe I want to just narrow it down to the people who are high-interactors: people who comment, visit more than three pages, and have visited more than 20 times. In a few clicks, Google Analytics will allow me to create this segment to look at.

The ability to look at this information in aggregate will allow me to make informed decisions about how to restructure the site to improve the user experience:

  • Knowing what people primarily look at means I should put it in the main navigation.
  • Knowing what the top keywords are that sent the most (unique) traffic will help me see if my SEO efforts are on target.
  • Knowing what people from social media sites are doing will help me revamp what I put on my Facebook wall or what I tweet to get their attention.

Alternatives: Chartbeat (again!), Woopra

So what should you use?

If you’re interested in looking at what individuals are doing (and get less than 20 visits per day on your site), StatCounter will be a great tool for you.

If you’re interested in redoing your site to be more navigable/user-friendly to your users, or if you get lots of traffic to your site, Google Analytics will be a great tool for you.

I don’t recommend adding both to your site, as it’ll mean extra page load time for each javascript file. I steer all my clients toward Google Analytics, as I’m more likely to be helping them make informed decisions about how to improve their site.

Posted on: March 4th, 2011 by Lara (1 Comment)

One Response

  1. Anne says:

    Great post! Quick & easy to read- great graphics, and I love that it highlights what makes different tools valuable! So often people just say this is better than that- but don’t really define those betterness pieces. I love it when writers can present two sides to a solution!

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