Comparing Google Analytics, Statcounter and Feedburner Site Stats

SimonGeneral13 Comments

I have three different website statistics packages running on my blog – Google Analytics, Statcounter and Feedburner. I figured it’s about time I wrote a review about how I use each one.

Google Analytics is a completely free service, while Statcounter and Feedburner have free versions with paid-for advanced functionality. I use the free versions of each, and find these more than adequate for my needs as a blogger.

Installation

At this point I should note that my website runs on WordPress using a bespoke template, so that’s my experience of installing these services. All three were equally simple to install – a small copy and paste into the relevant place in the template.

The Google Analytics script goes into the header, the Statcounter script into the footer, and the Feedburner script goes into the part of a WordPress template that handles post-specific information. I never quite worked out why this was the case for Feedburner, but the installation instructions were pretty clear to follow.

Screenshots

The screenshots below show the “homepage” of each statistics system – the place where basic statistics are presented and from where you can explore further.

Google Analytics:

Google Analytics

Statcounter:

Statcounter

Feedburner:

Feedburner

Functionality

In a direct comparison of the range of statistics features available, I’d say Google Analytics appears the most powerful tool. It’s certainly the one I’ve used most to delve into the detail of who’s visiting my site. However this power comes with a price: it’s much more complex to learn to use than Statcounter or Feedburner.

If you’re interested in measuring your site’s conversion performance or tracking different web marketing campaigns, Google Analytics offers a range of bespoke features that allow you to set up and track conversion goals.

For most bloggers though Google Analytics is probably overkill – if you’re like me you probably won’t have the time or inclination to regularly check the detailed reports.

Feedburner presents site statistics very simply, and if you use Feedburner to manage your RSS feeds then you’ll already be familiar with the layout and interface. Feedburner now presents site statistics alongside RSS statistics, which means that if you’re checking your RSS numbers regularly, you can get a quick update on your site visitors in the same place.

However I do find Feedburner’s analysis a bit too simplistic – I like to be able to dig a bit deeper, cut information different ways or compare trends over time. While Feedburner does some of these things, Statcounter does them all.

The beauty of Statcounter is that it’s really quick to check your basic visitor numbers, but it’s equally straightforward to get into the detailed stuff too.

One thing to note: Google Analytics and Statcounter update in real time and allow you to set your timezone – so figures for a particular day are correct for your geographical location. Feedburner doesn’t seem to allow you to localise for your timezone, meaning that days reported aren’t exactly aligned with days in your timezone.

Conclusions

So what’s the best package from the three I’m using? Well, as usual, the answer is “it depends”.

If you’re a marketer interested in sales conversion or web advertising, then Google Analytics is probably for you. If you’re a blogger just wanting a quick insight into visitor numbers then I’d go for Feedburner. If you’re a blogger or owner small to medium website then the Statcounter offering might well hit the mark for you.

Most bloggers I know are obsessed with their traffic statistics – I’m no exception and log in at least once a day to check mine. One disadvantage to all these services is that they don’t offer RSS feeds, so you have to visit the site to check the latest figures.

Steve Rubel points to a new site statistics service called Clicky that does offer RSS feeds for your statistics. I’m going to give that a go over the next few weeks to see how it fares against the other three.

13 Comments on “Comparing Google Analytics, Statcounter and Feedburner Site Stats”

  1. Stuart Bruce

    Good round-up, that mirrors my experience. Google Analytics is the best, but far to complex for the average small biz website or blog. If you’re using Google AdWords then it is brilliant.

    Statcounter is the best for me.

    p.s. I’m glad you explained the timezone thing on FeedBurner. I thought I’d missed a configuration somewhre, but in fact it just doesn’t do it.

  2. Caroline

    Thank you for a fine plain English review. I’ve been meaning to look into this stuff for a while and you’ve saved me a LOT of bother.

  3. simon

    Stuart – glad I shed some light on the timezones. I searched high and low for a configuration setting until I realised!

    Caroline – thanks for reading and glad the review’s useful. I’ve added your blog to my reading list too.

  4. Chris

    Hey! Great reviews. I’m totally in agreement, but that’s not why I’m here. I Googled to see if anyone else has somehow been able to track their RSS/ATOM feeds with Google Analytics (I’m not switching). I was hoping your article would shed a glimmer of hope… you’re absolutely right, we’re obsessed with statistics, and when a potentially large percentage of users are simply subscribing to our rss feeds – we’re missing out on their statistics. Thanks for a great site though – I’ll be returning for sure!

  5. Jenni

    Hi Simon,

    Love the site!

    And many thanks for the write-up.

    You’re right. StatCounter offers realtime stats.

    As far as I know, however, Google Analytics don’t…the stats are only updated every few hours.

    Thanks!

    Jenni
    StatCounter Team

  6. Vagant

    I’ve just installed StatCounter and I’m a bit disapointed. The size of the log is limited to 100 so I can’t track the activity from yesterday. Has GoogleAnalytics the same limitations ? What is the catch with GoogleAnalytics ? Advertisement & popups ?

  7. Simon

    Hi Vagant,

    Google Analytics doesn’t have any limitations – there are some ads, no pop-ups and nothing intrustive. The new interface is much better too.

    If you pay for the Statcounter service then the 100 log limit doesn’t apply anyway

    sw

  8. Simon

    An update on Statcounter – the log limit on free accounts has been increased from 100 to 500

    To get the raised limit you need to click the wrench icon beside your project, click ‘Adjust Log Size’, enter 500 in the box and then click ‘Adjust Project Log’.

  9. Pingback: My Ghillie » Comparing Google Analytics, Statcounter and Feedburner Site Stats | Simon Wakeman - Marketing, public relations and digital communications

  10. little richardjohn

    ‘The Google Analytics script goes into the header, ‘
    I tried that in Blogger and it rejected the HTML.
    The Analytics guide says to paste it before the body tag on every page.
    I don’t want every page counted, let alone tracked, much. I just want my genuine pagehits without having to update my cookies every 5 minutes, as I have to with StaCounter.

  11. Jasper

    I am running both Google Analytics and Statcounter for experiment use only and see which one is better and remove the other one when I figure out which one is the effective more.

    I just curious, why both of them is not tally about page views and unique visitors? Have you encountered this?

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