Web Statistics: Tylenol® anyone?
Submitted by Antoine Gagnon.
The three most used statistics programs used on a Web site are Webalizer, Awstats and Google Analytics. While nobody really knows which one is the best, we can surely all agree on two common elements.
- They don’t have the same numbers at all
- They give us an headache Here’s a short comparison of the three stats programs and an attempt to explain the numbers they gather, based on some reading and my own analysis of my stats.
- Always shows way fewer visits than the two others engines
- Visits of a few seconds only may not be tracked by Google if the script doesn’t have the time to load
- Doesn’t provide in-depth details on the search results and keywords used Webalizer and Awstats –
- Both are programs that must be installed on the server.
- A lot of hosting companies are providing them by default through the Cpanel option of the server.
- Both are using the actual log files populated on your server.
- Both are tracking visits by the IP addresses of the readers’ computers. This causes some discrepancies in environment, such as AOL, or when a user is rebooting their modem (which renews their IP address).
- By default, Webalizer is actually including all visits and hits from spiders and bots such as Google, Yahoo, etc. These are not being tracked by the other two.
- Webalizer can be configured to remove the tracking of spiders and bots.
- Awstats is written in Perl so there is a risk of not being able to handle very large log files
Which is the best? That depends on your needs and your goals. Some people find a great deal of value from installing two or more and comparing the statistics between or among them.