If you want analytics details on your website visitors, Google Analytics is the popular choice. It’s simple to sign-up, setup, and start tracking your visitors’ details. However, if you have concerns about what happens with that data or qualms about handing that information over to one of the largest advertising companies, it’s not for you. One possible alternative to use is Piwik, a free, open-source, self-hosted analytics package.
You can track all sorts of statistics that allow you to create a better website, like understanding a visitor’s resolution, the browser used, or if they’re on a mobile browser. Piwik boasts a large number of features and is very comparable to Google Analytics in what it offers. Some things, it even does better – like automatic tracking outlinks. It’s not just copycat software. The software is complex without being complicated so it has a User Guide to help make the most of the software.
If you don’t feel comfortable installing Piwik, you can choose a hosted, preloaded install of Piwik.
To install Piwik on your server, it’s very similar to other PHP/MySQL apps like WordPress or phpBB. You start by downloading the 5.5MB .zip package from piwik.org. I created a separate subdomain for my use and uploaded the extracted files there. You will also need to create a new database and a user with full privileges to the newly created database.
You can follow the Installation guide or the on-screen instructions you see when you first visit your install location in a browser. It walks you through all the steps of checking minimum requirements, adding your database login details, creating an admin user account so you can login, and setting up your first website.
The minimum system requirements are:
- PHP version 5.1.3 or greater
- MySQL version 4.1 or greater
- (enabled by default) PHP extension pdo and pdo_mysql, or the mysqli extension.
You setup your first website to track by entering the website name, URL, timezone and answering if it is Ecommerce.
Just like that, you’re all set. You can add more sites or wait around for the data to roll in. The stats include real-time data, so it shouldn’t be long before you start seeing activity reflected from your site.
With your install of Piwik, it allows you to create embeddable widgets for your website. You might brag about your statistics or just share your popular pages or many other options.
You can access your full analytics data at the website you created as well as through an available mobile app. Available for iOS and Android, the Piwik Mobile App gives you access to your stats from anywhere.
You can view a working demo of the site at demo.piwik.org. If you want to give it a try, find out more at piwik.org. You can have Piwik and Google Analytics running side-by-side, so you can test it out without losing any data if you want to remain with Google Analytics or your current analytics provider.