Archive for January, 2009

WordPress 2.7 and Google Analytics: Google Analyticator plugin review

Sunday, January 11th, 2009

I’ve previously written about Google Analytics and WordPress 2.7, and all I managed to do really was to show my ignorance. The problem that I’d had was that after installing Google Analytics manually (by inserting the relevant code in the footer), I’d then upgraded to 2.7 automatically, and naively expected it all to work magically.

I now understand that I am not yet an instinctive WordPress user. The first instinct of an experienced WP blogger looking to install analytics of any kind (or carry out almost any task) would naturally be: “Find me a plugin!”, whereas I’m more used to handbuilding web pages using simple HTML editors.

So when I recently changed the WordPress theme of one of my scratchpad blogs, and I knew as a result, the analytics code that I had placed in the footer file would have disappeared – changing themes is another way of losing code that has been manually added – I decided to investigate the plugin route.

It didn’t take too long to find the Google Analyticator plugin, which is intended to make installing Google Analytics as simple as possible.

Test blog software version: WordPress 2.7

Installation and activation: worked without hitches of any kind. Following “activation”, you do have to enter the relevant ID from your Google Analytics account and enable tracking, so don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you’re done when you’ve activated the plugin. To be fair, you do get a great big warning at the top of the page letting you know about this.

Options:

a) You can choose to put the code in the footer rather than the header – I would have thought that this should be the default setting, as I’d always want to ensure that the tracking code was loaded last on the page – visits where the visitor doesn’t wait for the full page to be loaded before hitting the back button or moving on don’t seem to me to be worth counting. However, as the plugin’s author explains in the settings, apparently not all themes support having the code in the footer.

b) You can choose whether to exclude visits from logged-in blog admins. My strong recommendation would be to use this, as you don’t want your own visits to the site to be distorting your traffic. (The more traffic you have, the less important this distortion will be.) A good feature – and one that appears to be working correctly. One warning on this: the way that it works is to exclude the tracking code from the page when you are accessing the page as a logged-in admin. So, if you want to check your pages to see whether the tracking code is present and correct, you’ll need to log out first. That one confused me for a moment or two!

c) You can specify additional tracking code to go before or after the GA code. This allows you access to a range of additional tracking functions in GA. My needs here aren’t yet that sophisticated, but I can confirm that adding the text works as it should.

d) You can choose whether or not to turn on tracking of outbound links.

e) You can specify (by file suffix) any file links that you want to be counted as downloads.

Persistence:

The key question for me was as to whether this useful-seeming plugin would plug the gap that I’d originally been hoping to fill: that is, whether it would maintain the correct analytics code in the right place if I were to upgrade or switch themes. As my test blog for this has the current 2.7 version of WordPress, I can’t test the upgrade question, but I can see what happens if I switch themes. And I can report that it handles the transition perfectly. I’ll report on how it handles any upgrades at a later stage.

Verdict:

Adding Google Analytics to your WordPress blog is not that complicated a task, but the Google Analyticator makes it even simpler, and also gives an intelligent range of useful options. Congratulations and thanks to the plugin author, especially for taking the time to make it compatible with WordPress 2.7.

Yaab 1.2 and WordPress 2.7 not the best of friends yet

Monday, January 5th, 2009

The main test site that I have used for Yaab Autoblogger to date is using WordPress version 2.6. It’s all working pretty sweetly (with the occasional apparent double-posting that I have yet to investigate properly, and suspect is my fault or a problem with the feed).

I was keen to try out the new version (1.2) of Yaab, and continue to provide some feedback to its tireless author. As it happened, I’d just bought a new domain on which I’m intending to try out some experiments with autoblogging, autolinking and crosslinking on various subdomains, so I had the opportunity to carry out a fresh install.

Having set up a blog on one subdomain, using WordPress 2.7, I installed the latest version of the Yaab plugin.
Now, 2.7 represents a major change of interface for WordPress, and Yaab was clearly designed to fit in with the previous interface. However, anyone thinking about installing the plugin with 2.7 should be warned that you will not be seeing it at its best!

It will still function, but the interface changes to 2.7 have messed up the attractive interface of Yaab somewhat. I’m sure that this is something that Satheesh will be looking to tidy up (once he has finished his exams), as I think that the latest version of WordPress is likely to be very popular.

Now, I’ve broken a golden rule of experimentation by changing two elements at the same time. Fortunately I still have a live blog running 2.6, and I will try installing Yaab 1.2 there in order to give proper feedback on its new features. I might also have a go at installing the earlier version of Yaab on a 2.7 blog somewhere, if I get time for that as well.