Monday, July 27, 2015

Hello StatCounter, Goodbye Sitemeter (Including How To Add StatCounter And How To Delete Sitemeter)

I've been chronicling my problems with Sitemeter for a while.  My Love/Hate Relationship with Sitemeter and Sitemeter Out of Control  are two examples.  I suspect all the younger more tech savvy folks have abandoned Sitemeter long ago.  It's a story that highlights one of the downsides of capitalism -
Step 1:  clever entrepreneur following his passion creates great product and services his customers well
Step 2:  clever entrepreneur gets a great offer for his product and is tired of all the work he's created for himself, so he sells
Step 3:  new company doesn't really care about the product, just the potential money it can make, or wants to eliminate a rival,  and stops servicing customers and basically ruins the once good product

Sitemeter was created by David Smith, who sold it (as I understand) to My Space who sold it to someone else.  Here's the page that I really liked about Sitemeter and made me reluctant to give it up even when it was slow and then buggy.  It consolidates a lot of information about individual visitors.  It's not that I was trying to pry, but I was trying to get a sense of who was visiting and connecting location, sometimes organization (when it showed in the domain name), what they looked for on google, what post that took them to . . . all that helped me understand what an individual sought and sometimes told me that an agency or company I'd posted about was looking at what I posted about them.   

When I first saw all this information that was gathered on each visitor I was shocked.  But I came to understand that Sitemeter merely reformats the information that my computer has already gathered about visitors.  I like to show this page to people to let them know what kind of tracks they leave when they visit websites. 

But the recent problems - shutting down for nearly a week and selling of client websites and their readers to third parties, like x-vindicosuite - started to bring things to a head.  I quoted this before from a google forum: seems to be "passive DNS replicator", which may be performing a genuine function; but apparently buggy software at sitemeter results in pages with sitemeter counting code on them getting redirected there.
In the screenshot below, you can see the message in the lower left, that things had been sent to this mysterious site.  It was like it was sending stuff through x-vindicosuite before I could see the next Sitemeter page, often slowing things down terribly.  

When I posted about this recently, commenters suggested StatCounter as an alternative, but I had lots of things vying for my attention,  so I procrastinated.  But I finally went there to check how difficult it would be to add StatCounter.  It turns out not difficult at all. 

Here's the StatCounter page that tells you how to put the code into your blogger template  It's pretty straightforward and took me less than five minutes.  

After poking around at StatCounter for a week, I see that the kind of information that I got from Sitemeter is available in different formats, and as I'm getting more familiarized, I think it probably gives me most of the same information in better (ie faster to go through) templates, and it allows me to drill down to more information on a specific visitor if I choose. 

For example, here's an example of one of the pages that tracks visits on Sitemeter.  This one tracks by search word:

StatCounter has several pages that do a similar list, but with a lot more information.  Here's one, for example:

click to enlarge and focus

And I can drill down (magnifying glasses in second column next to "Page Visits" to get more information on any of the specific visitors.

There's actually lots and lots of reports and I still have to figure out all that I can get and what I need and want.  And it shows me how Sitemeter was left to stagnate, while StatCounter found new was to display available data. 

And I also found out why so few actual 'search terms' are visible these days compared to four or five years ago.  StatCounter had a link next to 'search term unavailable' that led me to a 2011 Google page that says: 

"As search becomes an increasingly customized experience, we recognize the growing importance of protecting the personalized search results we deliver. As a result, we’re enhancing our default search experience for signed-in users. Over the next few weeks, many of you will find yourselves redirected to (note the extra “s”) when you’re signed in to your Google Account. This change encrypts your search queries and Google’s results page. This is especially important when you’re using an unsecured Internet connection, such as a WiFi hotspot in an Internet cafe. You can also navigate to directly if you’re signed out or if you don’t have a Google Account.

What does this mean for sites that receive clicks from Google search results? When you search from, websites you visit from our organic search listings will still know that you came from Google, but won't receive information about each individual query. They can also receive an aggregated list of the top 1,000 search queries that drove traffic to their site for each of the past 30 days through Google Webmaster Tools. This information helps webmasters keep more accurate statistics about their user traffic. If you choose to click on an ad appearing on our search results page, your browser will continue to send the relevant query over the network to enable advertisers to measure the effectiveness of their campaigns and to improve the ads and offers they present to you."
OK, I'm only four years behind the times, and StatCounter is what is getting me a little more up-to-date.  And even if they can't tell you what the search words were, they can tell you if you ranked high in the search.  For example:

Of course, this will depend on the exact words they used on google.  Other visitors to that page must have used other terms to get there and What Do I Know?  didn't rank high enough to get a note on StatCounter.  (What you see is just the little balloon with the #3 on it, but if you hover the cursor over the #3, you get the popup that says "Your page ranked #3 on Google for the query."

A blogger forum gives instructions on how to remove sitemeter from your blogger template.  It is technical, but not that hard.  They highlight the key script in yellow, so scroll down. 

I've still not deleted Sitemeter, but because of the x-vindicosuite problem, I must.  But I need to copy some of the summary pages for when I left to document the number of hits they say I have had.  I don't know how accurate it actually is, but it's something.  So you can look for the sitemeter logo and tracking numbers (well it just shows a black box now)  in the column on the right above "About Me" if you read this today, but I'll try to delete it in a day or two.  You can check back then to see if I was successful.   Here's a summary screenshot I just did saying there's been 811,778 total unique visits and 1,245,231 page views since I first installed Sitemeter. 

I tried to figure out when I first added Sitemeter to the blog.  My email shows a message from Sitemeter in Feb 2009 thanking me for setting up an account.  But I have a post about my 10,000th visitor in December 2008 based on Sitemeter stats.  I'm guessing I set it up in 2007 sometime.  I started the blog in July 2006. 

Goodbye Sitemeter.  Hello StatCounter


  1. I did the same. I was reluctant to make a switch as required me to edit hundred of pages that make up my site. But nonetheless, since I was able to access my Sitemeter reports for weeks, I made the switch. Overall, I like the various Statcounter reports about individual visitors. That was the main reason I held off and hoped that Sitemeter service would be restored.

    So far it's been a good move to Statcounter.

  2. Hey there, I recently ran into this exact same situation. Thanks for sharing your detailed posts. They encouraged me to check out StatCounter, too. I'm really liking it so far!

    1. Diana, glad my frustrations were able to help someone else - and thanks for the links on your post on this topic.


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