Mint: Keep Your Analytics / Website Traffic Stats Private for Only $30

Aug 22nd

Many of the large web players offer or will soon offer analytics products for free. If you use them they may eventually charge you for the service, or they may keep them free but look for other ways to charge you, and use your own statistics against your best interests, by doing one or more of the following

  • using your site to help categorize keywords that competitors should bid on (and do SEO for)

  • compare your direct traffic to search traffic and flag your site for review to potentially reduce your search traffic if it is outside the normal range for your given industry
  • compare your traffic from their engine to traffic streams from other known clean sources (such as competing engines) and flag your site for review if it falls outside of a certain range
  • compare your keyword cost and conversion rate relative to other words and reprice accordingly

The General Competitive Trend:

One day you are the top ranked lyrics site making good money pitching ringtones. A few months later the search results are cluttered with YouTube videos, show a Google music vertical result at the top, and sites like Yahoo Music start offering lyrics. Income is down 60% and the trend has just begun.

Are Your Stats a Commodity?

As more of the ad networks become automated and leverage CPA based targeting, advertisers are going to have a better idea of where there is value. Google and your large competitors have access to enough data to capture the large trends, but what happens on the micro-level is what is most relevant to you, and, if your site is not as strong as competing sites, keeping that data private (or, at least as best you can given new affordable competitive analysis services) is required if you want to maintain and grow your business.

How do Ad Networks Increase Profit Margins?

Saying that a search engine may use your data to make them more money is more logical than it is cynical, especially if they are offering the product for free. Some of the smaller search / ad networks, like Shopping.com, have already repriced entire categories of keywords based on advertiser conversion data from free tools. Google has already used my name and brand as the AdLink text for competing offers. And who hasn't been hit by an AdWords quality score?

Independent Free Services Have Costs Too

Even free services like StatCounter and SiteMeter are not free due to one or more of the following reasons

  • they usually require a sitewide outbound link

  • sharing some of your stats with everyone
  • selling your stats to a third party
  • limiting your feature set or account size and then charging you to keep all the data they built up about your site over months or years

Think of how much you spent building your brand, your link equity, and your traffic stream. Is it worth giving someone all that data and a sitewide link for something you can get for a one time $30 fee?

Mint is Soooooooo Much Better...

Shawn Inman's Mint (available at HaveaMint.com for $30) is a server based web analytics tool that you can buy licenses to for $30 per site. It tracks traffic trends, referrals, and search trends. In addition it has many extensible peppers which allow you to track things such as

  • browser type

  • country origin
  • internal searches
  • outbound clicks
  • watching specific pages
  • hottest and coldest page trends

How to Leverage Your Stats

  • Look for the pages that rank for a wide array of keywords and use the format from those to model your other pages against

  • Point more link equity at your best performing pages.
  • If you have a deep section that has little link equity and little to no traffic try promoting it in the site's navigational scheme. If traffic picks up and conversions increase keep promoting that section.

What if I Want to Share My Stats?

If you have an authoritative site and make your money from selling ads you may want to make your stats public, which Mint allows you to do with one click. Doing so does not require you to hassle with logging into multiple Google accounts or having to worry about compromising your other features at sites like Google.

What Does Mint Look Like?

I set my stats here to public, but I may change it to private at some point.

Is This a Paid Ad?

Nope. I just recently bought Mint, and thought it rocks, so I wanted to post about it.

Published: August 22, 2007

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Comments

August 27, 2007 - 10:20pm

I will definately look into this. It's kind of scary for Google to have my website information.

August 23, 2007 - 2:06am

I have been using Mint for about 6mths and indeed, it does rock! I never thought about the privacy reasons for using it, great point.

Thanks for letting us have a peek at yours.

August 23, 2007 - 2:16am

Aaron, big thanks for this post. I have been fearing that I have been giving my clients up to Google all too willingly in exchange for the Analytics crack. And thanks for sharing the stats. As a regular reader of your site it's sort of cool to know what % of your audience I am.

August 23, 2007 - 2:17am

Aaron, big thanks for this post. I have been fearing that I have been giving my clients up to Google all too willingly in exchange for the Analytics crack. And thanks for sharing the stats. As a regular reader of your site it's sort of cool to know what % of your audience I am.

August 23, 2007 - 2:17am

I have purchased Mint when it first came out but forgot to use it.

Thanks for reminding us about Mint. (it looks good). Now I need to upgrade to Mint v2

August 23, 2007 - 2:53am

Doesn't that just sound... bad?

"Hey, buddy. You want some protection? No. You don't seem to understand. Do you want us to protect your 'privacy' if you know what I mean? Or, we can go the hard way... Who where your competitors?"

Thank goodness we moved away from the baseball bats and lead pipes...

August 23, 2007 - 3:03am

I like how it displays all the important stats on one easy to view page. What about conversion tracking? I didn't notice an area that you could track sales per keyword, per referral, per ad campaign, etc...

August 23, 2007 - 3:08am

Hi James
That is the one data point that is not easy to do as of yet, but I am sure it would not be hard to write a custom pepper to do that (or maybe one already exists). I know there was a custom pepper to track AdSense ad clicks before Google got stingy with allowing people to track that data.

Dave
August 23, 2007 - 4:58am

Another Google alternative is pMetrics. I've been using it for a few months and really like it.

Yaniv
August 23, 2007 - 9:16am

Aaron, what about sites that are extremely useful to visitors?
Isn't it possible that revealing my stats will only serve me SEO wise? Let's say I have extremely low bounce rate or users linger for a long time in my site (I'm sure you can think of other parameters as well)
I think it makes sense that in these cases sharing my stats should play in my favor.

August 23, 2007 - 10:14am

Hi Yaniv
That is why I ended the post with that section titled what if I want to share my stats.

Ashish Roy
August 23, 2007 - 3:48pm

Aaron, it appears that you do not have a redirect from non-www to www version (or vice-vers) on your server. Neway, you sales pitch page seems to be doing great.

Cheers

Ashish

August 23, 2007 - 3:57pm

Just wondering if there is any reason to prefer this one above GA ?

August 23, 2007 - 8:42pm

I recommend open source Slimstat for small to midsize websites:
http://wettone.com/code/slimstat

August 23, 2007 - 8:58pm

I heard from Mint before but here in Europe nobody blogs about it !... I have a question: does it takes a lot of space on the database ? Server apps are known for using a lot of space...

August 23, 2007 - 9:05pm

I heard from Mint before but here in Europe nobody blogs about it !... I have a question: does it takes a lot of space on the database ? Server apps are known for using a lot of space...

August 23, 2007 - 9:59pm

Awesome! Thanks for the tip!

Alexander
August 23, 2007 - 10:06pm

Dave, if GA means Google Analytics then re-read the article again because it answers your question.

August 23, 2007 - 11:44pm

GA was indeed the Google stuff...It just looks like GA provides more detailed info than most of the other software. I really don't mind to pay but just like to have something descent.

Kevin
August 24, 2007 - 3:13am

Hey Aaron,

Does having to insert the snippet of javascript on all your pages (Mint) have any effect SEO-wise? What about server speed? Thanks so much for this helpful article!

August 24, 2007 - 4:12am

Hi Kevin
Many analytics products put a snippet of javascript in your pages. I dont think it hurts the site much (or probably at all) on the page load speed or SEO front.

Kevin
August 24, 2007 - 3:36pm

Thanks a bunch Aaron. I'm glad to hear it doesn't hurt anything on the SEO front. I think I'm going to give Mint a try. Are there any other statistics/analytics software you use in addition to Mint now? I had Urchin 5 installed on a server in the past and thought it was the best thing since sliced bread. I'd try Google Analytics, but like you said, I want my data for my use, not theirs.

August 24, 2007 - 3:43pm

I've had success with IndexTools as a low cost web analytics package for small businesses - but will definitely take a look at this one as well.

I do not know if there is an ability to publicly share stats from that application - which is a nice tip.

beginner
August 24, 2007 - 4:47pm

I am a Mint beginner. Do you have any suggestions about where to look for the very basic information such as how to interpret the stats and a basic glossary of terms?
Thanks in advance!

August 24, 2007 - 5:15pm

The only thing I don't like about mint is that it destroys my mysql server. MediaTemple is about to charge me double for my hosting if i don't find a way to calm mint down.

August 24, 2007 - 6:23pm

Hi Aaron,

Great post Aaron.

I wrote about similar thoughts concerning Google Analytics a few days ago, but didn't consider the other "free services" out there as a problem until reading your post.

I took a look at mint but had two problems with it.

1. At $30 a pop, it can be expensive to install it on all 42 of my domains. In all fairness, there is probably some type of discounted rate for the purchase of bulk licenses. I didn't check.

2. Who wants to log into 42 different control panels to check the stats on 42 different sites? Not me. I want a single interface that I can easily switch between the sites I want to track.

I stumbled upon a very good alternative last night. It is open source and has lots of very good features including heat maps. It installed it on my server, so I don't have to worry about someone using my stats for their own purpose.

From the one interface, I am able to track as many sites as I choose. So far, I've set up two of my heavier sites as a trial run.

I've been searching for weeks, and this is the best and most affordable (FREE) alternative if you want something that installs on your own system and can track unlimited domains.

Check it out.....

www . phpmyvisites.us

August 24, 2007 - 8:45pm

Nice find Brent.

Hi Kevin
I have tried many different stat programs (Clicktracks, IndexTools, Google Analytics, Sitemeter, various AdSense trackers, etc.)...mostly lower end to mid level stuff.

Hi Gaelen
Did you know if that is a common problem?

Hi beginner
You can probably get just about everything you would need at the official site, or by searching Google for stuff like mint install and stuff like that.

August 25, 2007 - 8:00pm

If you try out GoStats, you may find it to be a great free (and pro) hosted alternative. No load on your server and always speedy easy to read reports. Not to mention, that this is a time tested system (since 1999).

Aaron, Touching on your points from the post:
*sitewide outbound link: Opting for the pro version eliminates this requirement. (if you have the free version of GoStats, how 'free' can you expect it to be?)
*sharing your stats: You can make them totally hidden. (free or pro)
*selling stats to third party : nope
*limiting and then charging to keep data about your site: Not at all. Your data can always be downloaded. (if you have the pro version you can downgrade to the free version without losing your data)

There is a long list of unique yet extremely useful features that loyal users of GoStats really swear by. Best of all, GoStats can be installed into your site without replacing your existing stats. It's a good way to try it out and use as a backup to your existing stats sytem.

Fulcrum04
November 1, 2007 - 8:48pm

The issue for me is that an application of analytics is to monitor your marketing spend. You can then review channels that don't perform and remove them.

The monitoring (management information) in the long run is better independent from the advertisers(suppliers). It just saves the temptation to do something to obscure statistics or withhold information (potentially just as powerful as actually changing it). At Enron consultants and auditors were too close to one another ...

November 1, 2007 - 9:29pm

Too true Fulcrum04.
It also appears that under the guise of quality score needs, Google is pricing advertisers out of the marketplace and only allowing them back in if they share their conversion data with Google.

Fulcrum04
November 8, 2007 - 8:35pm

This could be plausible & even reasonable. Hypothetically the automatic quality score equation may be manually over-ridden by Google if the advertiser proves that the advert converts well i.e. is of good quality.

The alternative may be to improve the quality score by SEO of the landing page & advert in alignment with the keywords chosen. This may require narrowing of keyword choice or several landing pages.

March 16, 2008 - 6:01pm

Piwik is an Open Source solution to measure your website audience, that is a true alternative to Google Analytics and Xiti! One first big difference is that contrary to the two latter Piwik keeps your visitors’ data on your own server. That means you can be assured that nobody else gets access to them! It is undoubtedly a good point as tracking and personalized advertising are more and more unwelcomed by users.

More informations on: http://ocarbone.free.fr/blog/?p=254

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