A Blogging Aside: Stats I Check Over and Over and …

I have Mint installed on my site, the better to look at all my stats with. Almost everything under the spontaneousderivation.com domain is instrumented through—very easy to do with Mint. Probably the best thing about Mint is its modularity; I can add plugins to add more metrics, which is not a choice I have with Google Analytics—although Google Analytics has everything plus the kitchen sink, so it doesn’t matter too much.

What Mint does provide, and which I use every day, is live statistics. No waiting around for hours for me; I have current data at my fingertips (or reload button). Looking at live user behavior is inherently addictive. Mint can also do trending for the past seven days (or in shorter intervals), so it’s not just short-lived statistics. And it is very useful, sometimes, to know when you’ve just gotten Stumbled, in case you need to take preventative measures for whatever reason.

That said, Mint doesn’t keep data around forever; you get maybe seven weeks of data, though you can configure this to be longer. At the same time, all the Mint data is in your database, so you can cook up all sorts of queries and spreadsheets if you’re good at that kind of thing.

Here’s what I look at every day:

  • Total number of visits and unique visits:
    • Each hour for the last 24 hours
    • Each day for the last 7 days
    • Month by month comparison
  • Specific pages hit:
    • Most recent
    • Most popular (past hour, past 2 hours, past 8 hours, past 24 hours)
    • A specific set of pages I’m monitoring
    • Page visit trending
  • Visitors:
    • Most recent IPs
    • Repeat visits (past hour, past 2 hours, past 8 hours)
    • Individual visitor session tracking and cross-referencing
  • Referrers
    • Most recent
    • Most recent unique
    • Repeat referrers
    • Referrer trending
  • Outbound links
    • Most recent
    • Most popular (past 24 hours)
  • Feedburner (hooks into Google’s Feedburner APIs)
    • Subscribers yesterday (Feedburner is a NOT a live metric service)
    • Item views/clicks yesterday

This is actually only 50% of the metrics and 25% of the total metric views that I have available from the Mint dashboard. I’m not even covering the bits of the dashboard I don’t look at often. (I look at the Feedburner tables often, despite the fact that Feedburner doesn’t give out live metrics, because Feedburner is delayed randomly; sometimes yesterday’s stats won’t appear until 3pm PST, and sometimes sooner, but never before I wake up in the morning.)

Random coolness: panes can refresh their data individually without refreshing the entire page. AJAX rocks.

There are Mint plugins that don’t provide a visible dashboard element (or “pane”), but still serve some other purpose. The Refresh Pepper (Mint plugins are called Pepper) triggers the reload of every pane periodically. But my favorite has to be the Notifications pepper, which emails me when signficant events happen, like a suspicious rise in unique visitors that indicates a Stumble, freeing me from monitoring Mint even more than I do now.

Anyways, enough with the bloggery. Back to my normal SF/F and Kindle-loving coverage.

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7 thoughts on “A Blogging Aside: Stats I Check Over and Over and …

  1. I am really surprised that blogger doesn’t have analytics built into the website, rather than off-site in Feedburner and the Google “Webmaster Tools” service. Does Mint provide graphs or simple table-based statistics?

  2. Hi Dianne,

    Most of Mint’s statistics are presented in a table-based manner, though there are bar graphs—since Mint doesn’t track for more than a few weeks, lots of graphs are not as necessary for data visualization as they are for Google Analytics’ huge amount of metrics and data.

    I’ll have to make a post with some screenshots of Minty stuff.

    It’s not too difficult to install Analytics into your Blogger blog, I recall, but yes—it would have been nice to just have a checkbox that says “I want it here”. And that wouldn’t actually be difficult either, if Blogger’s software is written in an organized way (which it may not be).

    WordPress.com has built-in live statistics, and is quite easy to switch on for your WordPress.com blog; however, I have my own independent WordPress install. I can still install the WordPress statistics plugin and see my metrics on WordPress.com, but I like everything on my own server.

    Mint costs money; some $30 per domain. It’s why I haven’t branched out into something other than S∂. And it’s not something you can install on Blogger or WordPress.com.

    That said, I still like Mint because of the above features.

  3. Indeed I do, especially since I’m interested in monitoring things; always have been, for some reason.

  4. My dear lady, I am already involved in monitoring and statistics, both from a system health point of view and a business metrics point of view. Where I work, where technology and business are very much married on my side of the business, this sort of thing is incredibly important. It’s not always *pleasant* (which is why I’m so fond of Mint, which makes many things pleasant) but it is necessary.

  5. It is so important with a website like Podiobooks, which deals with so many users, visitors and uploaders each day. Then there is the blog page, twitter updates, release calendar, etcetera… If you can’t make sense of why the statistics are behaving the way that they are, then you won’t be able to devise a strategy for future website development.

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