How much do you know about what happens on your website?
Do you know which of your posts are the most popular? Do you know which posts get people interested in reading your other content? Do you know which authors get read the most?
Those, and more, are all insights you can get from website analytics. And they’re all insights that will actually make your blog better. They’ll help you drive more traffic and get more value from your existing traffic.
KeriLynn already discussed some of the best analytics tools for bloggers. Now I’m going to go one step further and show you some of the best WordPress plugins to help you integrate third-party analytics into your WordPress dashboard.
That means you can get powerful insights without needing to dig into any code. And as an added bonus – most of these tools will actually make your analytics data more comprehensible. That means fewer analytics-induced headaches!
1. Analytify – The power of Google Analytics inside your dashboard
Did you know there are whole courses dedicated just to learning how to use Google Analytics? I don’t mean a rinky-dink webinar. I mean an honest-to-god, full-length course. Just on getting the most from Google Analytics…
I’ve been using Google Analytics for years and I still don’t feel like I’ve scratched the surface of what it can do. And I’m guessing I’m not the only person who feels that way.
Analytify helps eliminate that problem by adding easy-to-understand Google Analytics reports right inside your WordPress dashboard.
Yup – with Analytify, you no longer need a PhD in Google Analytics to understand what’s happening on your website.
Here’s how it works:
You install and activate the plugin. Then, you can view your overall stats right in your dashboard. Quickly see your sessions, unique visitors, pageviews, bounce rate, average time on site, and more.
Ok, I know what you’re saying – there are other plugins that do that. So how about this:
Analytify goes one step further and also adds individual statistics for posts, pages, and custom post types. So you can, for example, click on a single post and view its Google Analytics data. All without leaving your WordPress dashboard.
You can also quickly track which social networks are generating the most traffic for your site as a whole, as well as your individual content pieces.
And guess what? So far – all of this is free!
Analytify premium features – Add campaign tracking and real-time stats
If you go with the premium version of the plugin, you’ll get a couple of cool new features:
First off, you can track different campaigns with UTM tags. Again, all inside your WordPress dashboard.
You’ll also get access to real-time statistics for your site, as well as the ability to set up email notifications.
And finally, you can also display statistics on the front-end using their shortcode builder. So if you want to show off your stats, you can embed them for everyone to see. Just be aware that front-end stats are cached for 24 hours, rather than constantly updated.
WooCommerce and EDD extensions to boost your eCommerce sales
I know most of you are bloggers, but if you have an eCommerce store, Analytify has some amazing features in its eCommerce add-ons.
With the add-ons, you can track average order values, coupons, and refunds.
And because funnel analysis is such an important part of conversion optimization for eCommerce stores, Analytify has pre-made reports that show you how many people go from adding a product to their cart, to starting the checkout process, to actually paying.
You can even view the conversion rates for individual products. So at a glance, you can figure out which products are converting well, and which might need some extra optimization.
2. Google Analytics by MonsterInsights – Deep tracking with premium
Formerly developed by Yoast, Syed Balkhi’s MonsterInsights bought up this Google Analytics plugin in 2016. Both companies are pillars in the WordPress community, so it’s no surprise there wasn’t any dropoff.
Like Analytify, Google Analytics by MonsterInsights brings Google Analytics charts and stats into your WordPress dashboard. And again like Analytify, it comes in both free and premium versions. I’ll discuss what you get with the free version first, and then give you some reasons you might want to go premium.
First off, the free version will help you actually set up Google Analytics tracking by helping you add the asynchronous Google Analytics code. It will also let you exclude certain user roles from showing up in Google Analytics reports, which is great for ensuring your own visits don’t muck up your stats.
Once you’ve got accurate statistics coming in, you can view basic statistics like sessions and bounce rate. Keep in mind that you only get overall statistics – there’s no statistics on individual pieces of content like with Analytify.
In addition to those dashboards, it helps you set up tracking for:
Outbound link clicks (as either pageviews or events)
Downloads (as either pageviews or events)
Internal links with a certain format as outbound links (helpful for tracking outbound redirected affiliate links like ….com/go/…)
3. Google Analytics by Sumo – Real-time tracking for free
Rather than acting as a standalone plugin, this tool is just another app in Sumo’s whole suite of helpful apps. So if you go with this one, you’ll have access to a ton of other list building and analytics tools.
First off, Google Analytics by Sumo offers the standard in-dashboard reports like both of the previous apps. You can also get a quick glance at what’s popular on your site lately.
Then, the app also offers that very cool feature I talked about with Analytify:
You can view stats for individual posts and pages. And you can also get real-time statistics for free.
If you’re already using the Sumo plugin, this one is an absolute no-brainer. And if you’re not, it’s still worth giving it a serious look for the free real-time statistics.
The only downside is that it lacks the eCommerce functionality of the previous two plugins. So, good for bloggers, bad for eCommerce stores.
4. Analytics Cat – Google Analytics made easy
Analytics Cat is the simplest plugin on this list. Don’t expect any in-dashboard reports (at least not yet!).
It offers a lightweight, simple way to add the Google Analytics code to your WordPress site. And now you’re probably asking – “why can’t I just stick it into header.php?”.
And the answer is that you’d be missing out on Analytics Cat’s other feature:
The ability to exclude logged-in users from your Google Analytics tracking. You’re probably on your site a lot, so if you count yourself in Google Analytics, you’re definitely going to muddy your data. Analytics Cat offers a simple way to prevent that from happening.
You can also exclude as many other user roles as you’d like.
5. Jetpack – WordPress stats + Google Analytics
Like Sumo, Jetpack isn’t just an analytics plugin. It also offers you a bunch of features like better social sharing, commenting, security, backups, and more.
But unlike Sumo, it doesn’t help you just integrate Google Analytics.
In the free version of Jetpack, you get access to WordPress.com stats. That means you’ll have an in-dashboard report where you can quickly view traffic, referrers, outbound clicks, and your most viewed content.
You can also view traffic for individual posts or pages.
And all of the data updates almost in real-time – there’s only about a one minute delay in my experience.
While WordPress.com stats are good for a very basic overview of how your site is performing, you’ll miss out on a lot of the more detailed insights offered by Google Analytics. For example, you can’t view bounce rates or average time on page, both of which are important metrics.
But if you upgrade to Jetpack Professional, you can connect your Google Analytics account to also bring in those insights.
Is it worth paying $29 per month for Jetpack Professional just for the Google Analytics feature? No way. But if you’re interested in all of the other features you get with Jetpack Professional, then it’s a good option.
6. Clicky Analytics – A quality Google Analytics alternative
I love Clicky. Back when I was more focused on building websites than freelance writing, I was a paying Clicky subscriber. Clicky manages to provide detailed insights that are still simple enough for non-PhDs to understand.
In my opinion, Google Analytics could learn a lesson or two from Clicky.
With Clicky, you can track:
Average time on site
And lots more.
For the average blogger, it offers just as much data as Google Analytics in a much more palatable format.
Also, Clicky actually offers more accurate time on site stats than Google Analytics. Google Analytics only gets time on site data if a visitor clicks to the next page, meaning it won’t be accurate for users who immediately bounce.
Clicky periodically pings its server, even when users are on the same page. That means you can get time on site data even if a visitor leaves before visiting a second page.
Finally, Clicky also has one of the coolest “Big Brother” features ever – you can spy on your active users in real time on a map. Just be careful, it’s addicting sitting there watching the real time stream!
So what’s the Clicky Analytics plugin?
The plugin helps you bring all of those reports into your WordPress dashboard. And it also helps you add the Clicky tracking code to WordPress.
It doesn’t do anything fancy like add stats to individual posts/pages, but you can view your full Clicky dashboard directly inside WordPress.
The only downside with Clicky is that you need to go with one of the paid plans to get the same level of tracking as Google Analytics. The free plan only lets you track up to 3,000 visits and lacks important features like outbound link tracking, goal tracking, and more.
The plugin you choose depends on where you fall on the “Data Geek” scale. If you love digging into deep analytics, you’ll want one that gives that option.
But if you just like seeing which of your posts are the most popular, you probably don’t need a plugin that gives you custom dimensions or WooCommerce tracking.
Here are my picks:
If you want the most detailed in-dashboard analytics reports, you should go with Analytify or MonsterInsights. And if you run an eCommerce store, you should go with the premium versions of those respective plugins.
If you don’t need in-dashboard analytics reports, use Analytics Cat as a lightweight solution to add your tracking code.
If you’re already using other Sumo tools, just go with Sumo’s Google Analytics app and call it a day.
And finally, if you want to try something other than Google Analytics, go with Clicky or Jetpack. Personally, I recommend Clicky over Jetpack, though both are solid options.
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