I have been using more and more open source software since moving to DigitalOcean and starting my new blog here on shinyidol.us. So far I have been very happy with the price and performance. Really can't go unmatched. Sadly the one area that has been a little disappointing is the data. I've been using Google Analytics for years and been happy but they recently made some changes I am somewhat lost and so is data.
Recently I wrote about Out of the Ashes of Irrational Games and got a number of retweets and favorites on Twitter including Andrew Goldfarb formerly at IGN now at Gearbox who has over 30,000 follwers and others ranging from 2,000 to 7,000. Just basic reach alone probably 50,000 eyes saw that link. But looking at my Google Analytics stats, it appears that hardly anyone visited the page.
Considering I alone have 2,000 Twitter followers, 56 page views shows something seriously wrong with the way Google Analytics is recording sessions. So I figured it was time for a change and that is when I stumbled across Piwik.
For those that haven't heard about it, Piwik is a self hosted open source web analytics package running on PHP/MySQL. It is similar to Google Analytics, but you have to install it yourself. If you are running Wordpress or any other web application it is pretty much the same concept. This might make some people nervous but it is super easier to setup. I simply downloaded it, created a Piwik folder in my
var/www folder and then went to that folder in my browser. In less than 5 minutes I was up and running. Totally painless.
Adding the tracking code was just as painless. Just a simple copy/paste of the code above the
</head>. Typically this would be in the
footer.php in a Wordpress site or in the
default.hbs in the Ghost template I am running. For those not wanting to muck around with code the Piwik community has built plugins for almost every CMS out there. Getting up and running is easy.
After the code was added and a quick restart of Ghost I tried it out. Success! Working analytics without all the junk that GA has added recently. Piwik doesn't have all the flash that GA has, but really I just want to see where people are coming from and what they are reading, as well as have the confidence that that data is being recorded correctly. So far Piwik is doing just that!