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.