So if you’ve been following my blog at all, you’ll remember that I was having some issues finding an effective way to analyze the 100 sites from my EPN challenge. Originally I was using Google Analytics on some sites, but after a lot of discussion, I finally agreed that it was not a very good idea to use it at all for this kind of project.
This left me looking for a free alternative to Google Analytics that would work for monitoring a large number of site, and provide a reasonably similar level of comprehensive reporting. Stat Counter, I have found to be way too watered down to be of much use, and I spent a good several hours looking over other free and semi-free analytics options, and didn’t find anything that would provide nearly the level of data as Google Analytics, and remain free at the same time.
A good friend of mine recommended Piwik, an open source web analytics software that is self hosted, and after one look, I knew it was by far the closest thing to Google Analytics I had come across yet. I excitedly uploaded it to my server and set it up on a handful of sites. The setup was extremely easy, and adding a new site is even faster than it is with Google Analytics.
Overall everything was great, but there was one major problem – there was no option for a top level overview of ALL the sites listed in my Piwik account. This is something I used heavily in Google analytics, specifically for a project like my 100 EPN site challenge, where tracking traffic at a top level overview and comprehensive analytics at the site level are both equally valuable.
With no way to solve the problem, I gave up on using it soley for my 100 EPN sites, and actually gave up altogether on using any kind of analytics, for the time being at least. I did, however continue adding some other single sites to Piwik instead of adding them to analytics.
So today I logged in to Piwik, the first time in a couple weeks, and the first thing I noticed was that a new update was available. I clicked on the details, and sure enough, one of the main things they added was a new plugin that allows for a top level overview of all the sites in your Piwik account – sortable by day, week, month or year. I was so excited, I instantly downloaded the update and uploaded it.
The top level overview works beautifully. There are still some things that Google Analytics offer not available via Piwik, but the fact that they added this feature has assured me that the entire project is moving in the right direction, and I can see a real commitment to make it the best analytics software available.
Overall, I now have plans to use this for a lot of projects, and probably use several different installs of Piwik to manage different projects. I am really loving what they’ve done, and can’t wait to see what is added in future updates. I can now actually see a potential end for any need to use google analytics at all, and the possibility of running Piwik on all of my sites in the future is not out of the question at all.
If you’re looking for a great, free, open source alternative to Google Analytics, I can now fully endorse Piwik as the best possible option available, and I strongly recommend you check it out.
Visit Piwik at www.piwik.org to download, and for demos and additional info.