Google Analytics (GA) has long been the most used tracker of website statistics. This is understandable as it does have a lot of powerful features. However not everyone is comfortable that Google seems to seep into every nook and cranny of their online marketing business. Probably for good reason!
I want to show you a tool called Piwik that is a great alternative to showing Google all of your precious data! The software is free and is Open Source for static and CMS platforms like WordPress and Joomla.
Piwik will show you in “real time” your site visitor numbers, what keywords they used to find your site, where they came from etc. Here is a link to a demo of what statistics you can expect – Demo Piwik Statistics.
What it doesn’t do is integrate your Google Adwords account like GA does; the whole point of this is to not show Google every little detail though isn’t it?
Let’s look at this cool piece of software in a little more detail. Piwik is simply installed on your own server, which is quite fast to do but not that straightforward! I will come to making the installation a little easier in a minute.
Once it’s installed then all you have to do is copy a tracking code into the same place you would your GA code. This will be the footer file in most cases which ensures the tracking goes on every page of your site.
Adding another site is easy, it’s simply added in settings the tracking code is generated and you add it as above. It will immediately get to work collecting data for you.
So let’s go even deeper here I’m assuming that you know much of the simple processes like file extraction and using FTP software. If you don’t then a search on Google will get you all the help you need to carry on..
1. Go to Piwik and download the files to your computer. Once downloaded extract those files.
2. Create a folder on your hosting account called piwik, upload the extracted files to that folder. I’ll warn you this will take a while! There are a lot of files to transfer. You may find that you get error messages that say the files already exist. If so select the option to write over the existing file.
3. Now once the files are uploaded you need to go to a new browser page and type in the URL of where you installed Piwik. This could be for instance www.mysite.com/piwik. You should be greeted with the Piwik install page.
4. Now start the installation process. The first thing that happens is that it will check your hosting has the minimum requirements to run Piwik. Most do but if there is a problem highlighted contact your hosting company and they will likely be able to “turn on” what you need.
5. Now here is where it can get a little more complicated but don’t let that put you off! Piwik needs a MySQL Database to operate. In some circumstances it can create that automatically, but often it doesn’t.
If it doesn’t here is what you need to do. Go to your cPanel and scroll to the bottom where you will see this section.Select the MySQL Database Wizard. On the next screen it asks for a name for the database, you can call it anything but write it down. Let’s say you call it piwik then the database name will be mysite_piwik.
Choose next, where you decide on a username and password. Fill those in and again write them down. The username must be written like this mysite_username to work. Click next and assign privileges, choose “all”.
That completes this step.
Fill in the areas for database name and password etc. with the information you just collected when setting up your database and username. Again click next when happy.
7. This time you should come to the “superuser screen” here you should create a username and password that will allow you to access the back office (on your server) for checking the stats that Piwik will collect. Write this information down somewhere safe and keep it handy.
8. Now it’s time to fill in your first sites details. Choose a name for it say mysite and add the url e.g http://mysite.com.
Click go and your code will be generated to add to the pages that you want to track.
That completes the task. All that remains is for you to monitor your stats and add new sites as and when needed.
To add a new site, click on the settings tab and the link to add a new site. The tracking will be generated just install as described above. You now have two sites using Piwik to collect information for you!
To get to your sites stats go the the url that you installed Piwik on and instead of the installation process you will get the screen to login with your “superuser details” enter those and your stats will display.
Good luck 🙂