I have this list of plugins that I install by default when I’m working on a new WordPress website. One of these plugins is for easy integration of Google Analytics, which is, without a doubt, one of the best website analytics programs out there. And it’s free – woohoo!
Over the years, I’ve used a couple of different Google Analytics plugins. A quick search of the plugins library at wordpress.org reveals a whopping 213 Google Analytics related plugins. Today I want to do a little compare/contrast for you of the three main plugins that I have used.
|Feature||WP Google Analytics||Ultimate Google Analytics||Google Analytics for WordPress|
|Track Outbound links||✓||✓||✓|
(can specify by extension type)
|Ignore Logged-in users||✓||✓||✓|
|Ignore based on roles||✓||✓||✓|
|Optionally track admin pages||✓||✓|
|Filter Tracking by content type||✓||✓|
|Track mailto links||✓|
|Places code in…||Footer||Footer||Header|
The Ultimate Google Analytics plugin defineitely has the most features, and Google Analytics for WordPress come in a close second based strictly on features. But, one thing about the GA4WP plugin that I don’t like is that it puts the Google Analytics code in the header by default. The GA instructions specifically say to put the code in at the end of the page, just before the </body> tag. Putting the script in the head can cause your page to load slower and if there happens to be an error with the code, your page might not load at all. Not my preferred method that’s for sure. In addition to this, a friend of mine (hi, Robin) has recently been having a lot of problems on her blog with this plugin, where it just stopped working for no apparent reason.
There are some great features in the WP Google Analytics plugin that I really like, such as tracking search terms and 404 errors through your GA, so you don’t have to have a separate plugin to do this. And it has all the other features that I think are a must – logging outbound links (good so you know which outbound links your visitors are getting the most use out of) and ignoring logged in users (so your analytics aren’t skewed when you’re hanging out at the site fixing things).
Lots of premium theme designers are now including an option to enter your GA tracking code and they do the heavy lifting of getting the appropriate code into the appropriate place in your theme. But, these ready-made options in themes don’t seem to have all of the other tracking options that the plugins I’ve mentioned do.
In the end, I think I’m going to stick with WP Google Analytics. It has all the stuff I want and none of the stuff I don’t. IT has an amazingly simple interface so getting it setup to your preferences takes about 30 seconds. So that’s what I’ll be using from now on for my websites.
What do you use for tracking site statistics? I’d love you hear what you use and why you love it.
Looking forward to hearing from you…
Excellent comparison. Thanks for doing the hard work for us.
Barbara – absolutely! Glad you found it useful.