Visitor Tracking

A good visitor tracking system is a vital tool for a successful internet marketing campaign. Various visitor tracking platforms that provide graphical interfaces with statistical charting tools, such as Google Analytics and Piwik, are available to website administrators at no cost. Implementing one of these tools is a requirement for any serious internet marketing campaign.

Google Analytics vs Piwik

Google Analytics

The simplest setup is to implement Google Analytics. However, this tool has its drawbacks. First of all, the tracking data is not yours, it’s Google’s, and it’s housed on Google’s servers. Second, you never get a complete record of visitors’ IP addresses as Google never allows you to see that information. Third, if Google has your tracking data, it is an absolute guarantee that they too are looking at your data, even if by automated means. It can be a lot like playing a blackjack game and having the dealer always able to see your cards. This gives Google immense power. The vast tracking information available to Google may result in Google making decisions that are favorable to Google, and not necessarily favorable to you. You hope Google never uses that information against you, but are you prepared to bet the future of your business on it? You may think, as I do, that in this case it is better to keep your tracking data to yourself.


Piwik visitor tracking countries map
Piwik visitor tracking best search engines
Piwik visitor tracking overview with graph

Piwik requires a more complicated setup, including setting up a database on your own hosting just for Piwik. Additionally, out of the box Piwik has a very poor GeoIP geographic location tracking system that only provides information about the visitors’ country of origin. Installation of a third party GeoIP plugin is required to extend the GeoIP tracking to include city information. Unfortunately this does not cover state or province also, which means we get some strange behavior such as tracking all Springfields as one city.

However, some other aspects of this tracking are superior to Google Analytics, including the ability to watch traffic register in real time, the ability to see a visitor’s full IP address, the ability to see the complete sequence of viewed documents for each user, and the ability to see not only the search term and search engine a visitor used to find your website, but also the ranking your site has for that search term. Perhaps most important, the tracking data is yours and cannot be viewed by anyone that you do not give explicit permission to do so. Additionally, developers can brand their Piwik install with their own logo giving it a personalized feel.