If you are serious about developing your blog for your business then the likelihood is that you will be keeping a keen eye on tracking visitors to your site, seeing which posts are attracting most interest and which keywords are being used to find you.

There are a number of tools of the market which can help you in this, many of which are free. Most of these are generic tracking packages are aimed at websites in general, but there are also some excellent ones which are specifically aimed at blogs which should also be considered because of the additional elements they bring.

Blog Tracking Tools

There are four services that I have looked at specifically, though there are of course many more which exist in the market. The first two, MyBlogLog and Feedburner, were created with blogs specifically in mind while Statcounter and Google Analytics are general analytics packages, designed for a wider audience.

MyBlogLog: (recently acquired by Yahoo) is much more than just a tracking package. You are given a dashboard overview of where readers came from, what they’ve viewed and what they clicked on, as well additional more comprehensive details in the detailed area, but I believe that the real value comes from the community element it also offers.

With MyBlogLog, you get the chance to make contact with the people who read your blog, make contact and link up with others as well as join communities on individual blogs or sites (join the Better Business Blogging community here). You can see which members last visited your blog in your profile area on MyBlogLog and, through an easily installed widget, also display it on your blog encouraging others to join.

Overall, a nice set up combining relationship options and tracking combined, though I notice that the statistics reported are generally lower than through other packages.

Feedburner: Feedburner is perhaps best known for its RSS tracking and manipulation but during 2006 they also bought blog tracking company BlogBeat. This has now been integrated as a blog analytics element into their free StandardStats package which sits alongside their more familiar RSS feed services.

Following the familiar Feedburner look and feel, you get page and visitor tracking, entry and exit pages together with browser information and location delivered in a “tag cloud” format. There are also a couple of nice touches linked to the RSS feeds, insofaras you can identify sites where your content has been resyndicated including other blogs and directories and you can track downloads of podcasts etc.

Lots more integration to come by all accounts so definitely one to keep an eye on in terms of new developments.

Statcounter: Real time stats and a whole host of information about who’s doing what and where on your site. A comprehensive and very popular stats package which gives a whole host of information across every aspect that you might need, perhaps with the exception of detailed information on exit links clicked on. Other than that you have everything that you might need from Search Engine referencers, keywords used, visitor tracking, popular pages etc.

The free service offers all the functionality but retains only 100 page views to drill down into for detailed information – however, upgrading is relatively inexpensive if required. The interface is functional without being anything to write home about but the fact that it is real time statistics from the word “go” is a real plus if you need to know what is happening on your blog immediately.

Google Analytics: After a few initial teething troubles of its own making (I guess that’s what happens when you give away something like this for free), Google Analytics has settled down to be probably the most comprehensive free tracking package out in the market.

In some ways in fact, it’s possibly overkill for what most blogs require but it is certainly very complete in what it tracks, and it presents the information in graphic format as well as raw data. The click paths are particularly nice but there is going to be a lot of the functionality which will probably not be used.

Which to go for

All contain more than enough basic information in their tracking to satisfy most users, so it is really their individual specialist additions that make the difference where they play to their own strengths.

There is of course nothing stopping you using more than one package and this is the road I would probably recommend. If you use a comprehensive overall analytics package such as Statcounter or Google Analytics, then these will certainly cover all your indepth tracking requirements. But the community elements at MyBlogLog are an excellent addition and Feedburner’s RSS expertise offers tracking through your feeds that the others can’t provide, so incorporate these as well and get the best of all worlds!

One word of warning – it can get addictive! So try not to keep popping back to your stats every 5 minutes to see who’s visited, the information will still be there later.

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