Piwik Web Analytics Essentials

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As Google is hosted remotely, a user tends to have a data privacy concern. Particularly, for someone who is a small vendor and needs to use the only basic set of data, Google analytics is much convenient for him.

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Google analytics is simpler to learn and easier to install. For somebody who loves open source product, Piwik might be a good choice, But, honestly, Piwik still needs to cover a lot of ground to provide something that users can really enjoy. For the sake of user convenience, a simple rule is created below, one can follow that to choose the right tool for its need. You may also look at the following articles to learn more —. Verifiable Certificate of Completion. Lifetime Access. Your email address will not be published. Forgot Password? Popular Course in this category.

Piwik: Open Source Analytics « Web Moves Blog

Course Price View Course. Be the first to ask a question about Piwik Web Analytics Essentials. Lists with This Book. This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Community Reviews. Showing Rating details. Sort order. Piwik is an open-source alternative to Google Analytics and various other web analytic software. If you prefer your data to remain in your hands and not stored somewhere in the Googleverse, Piwik is the way to go. This book is an excellent introduction to installing, configuring, using and maintaining a Piwik server. Some basic concept of how PHP and MySQL work and interact with one another is helpful, but that kind of goes without saying when dealing with open-source software in general.

The te Piwik is an open-source alternative to Google Analytics and various other web analytic software. The text is clear and concise, with a good balance between description and screen shots I hate when a book consists of mostly screen-shot - it's like padding a term paper with larger fonts and leading. I confess we only use the basic features of Piwik at the moment, but I know that when our account team asks for advanced tracking, campaign tracking, or even e-commerce tracking, I'll be able to quickly configure our installation using this book as reference.

Third-party cookies are usually used by businesses like advertising companies, who need to track visitors across a multitude of websites. An example would be an official Twitter button added to a site. This Twitter button will actually set a cookie in your browser and send data back to Twitter about your actions. This brings up a privacy issue with a lot of Internet users and as a result most browsers block third-party cookies by default.

Piwik has used first-party cookies since version 1. This brings up an important point: using cookies to track visitors is relatively accurate, but it's not perfect. There are many ways in which tracking data can be skewed due to the limitations of browser cookies. Some of these are: Visitors rejecting or deleting cookies: A visitor rejecting a cookie has obvious implications.

Piwik will have to fall back to image tracking and the limitations that come with it. When a cookie gets deleted, Piwik will record a returning visitor as a new visitor. This is because Piwik depends on persistent cookies to tag returning visitors. Multiple users using the same computer and browser: In this case, Piwik will record the visits of all these users as one.

One user using multiple browsers or multiple computers: Here, returning visitors will be counted as new visitors and unique visits will be over counted. With current technology, there is not much you can really do about this, except know that this happens, and that your data will never be percent perfect. It contains a timestamp of the cookie creation date in UTC, which is used to process the days it took for goal conversion. It contains a timestamp of the last page view of the last visit before this visit, which is used to process Days since last visit and Days to purchase.

This contains no data. This contains the referrer URL, which is truncated at bytes. It also contains the time the referrer URL was set. Piwik creates these cookies for each domain and subdomain. If you are tracking a website with a few subdomains and you want these subdomains to share the same cookie, then you will have to modify the Piwik tracking code that directly affects these cookies.

This involves using the setcookiedomain method in Piwik. By default, it is the domain of the document. One example of a site you would want to use this on is a blog farm. Let's say you installed Wordpress in multisite mode and want to start four or five blogs on different subdomains of the installation. Now, these blogs are going to be closely related in subject matter, and for the most part you can consider them parts of one site.

You are only separating the subject matter into five blogs for search engine optimization purposes, or siloing, to be exact. So, you should probably have Piwik set the same cookies across the domain and all subdomains of the site. The asterisk is a wildcard character that can be replaced with any character, which allows this string to work for www. You will notice that below setcookiedomain is another method call. The cookie domain has already been set and now it is time to tell Piwik's tracker that any links with this same domain should be counted as local and not as outlinks.

We use setdomains to do that. You can use the asterisk as a wildcard with this call too. Let's look at another case where we might have to customize cookies. A perfect example would be a social network where the user's pages are in subdirectories of the site, and we want to offer every user his own private analytics for those pages he controls. Instead of adding subdomains to a domain we are tracking, we are going to split a domain into multiple websites. These would be pages like the home page, sign up page, login pages, and about pages.

Now, for each specific user of the site, or a new website, we create a new ID in Piwik. In order for the cookies to work separately for each user, we set a cookie path. We set its parameter to the path on the domain where all of this user's pages reside, and we use a wildcard asterisk to include any directories under that path. You can also change the prefix of Piwik's cookie names, if needed. If you want, you can change the default timeout of each one of Piwik's cookies.

This line of the tracking code does it: piwiktracker. Piwik lets you specify which classes of links will not be tracked. So, if you have a set of links to other sites on a specific page on your site that you want Piwik to ignore, you just have to give them a common CSS class that can be used to tag them.

If they have the same CSS class already, and are the only items on the page that do, the current CSS class can be used. Let's say we created a class called notrack, and then, to this class, we added a link that we don't want to track. We do this by calling setignoreclasses with the name of the class as notrack. This method also accepts an array of class names if you are ignoring more than one class.

Some sites don't link directly to a download file, but instead use a PHP file link to launch the download.

To track a download link like this, you will need to tag the link manually. The setdownloadclasses method will also accept an array of class names if you need to use more than one. Some websites are configured to send outlinks through a PHP file first, to track external clicks within the CMS itself. Since these links appear to be on the same domain but actually redirect to other websites, the clickthroughs will not be counted as outlinks by Piwik. To manually tell Piwik to record a click on a link as an outlink, you have the same two options as you did with the download links: a special CSS class, or a function to set your own CSS classes.

There is yet another way to set outlinks using JavaScript to trigger a click on an outlink and this will work for other Piwik functions link page views or file downloads. Downloading file extensions By default, files with the following extensions are counted as downloads to Piwik: 7z aac arc arj asf asx avi bin bz b z2 csv deb dmg doc exe flv gif gz gzip hqx jar jpg jpeg js mp2 mp3 mp4 mpg mpeg mov movie msi msp odb odf odg odp ods odt ogg ogv pdf phps png ppt qt qtm ra ram rar rpm sea sit tar tbz tbz2 tgz torrent txt wav wma wmv wpd xls xml z zip You can replace this whole list by using the Piwik method setdownloadextensions.

Notice that this function accepts a string of extension names separated by the pipe character. If all we want to do is add extensions to track to the default list, we can use adddownloadextensions. This function uses the same pipe-delimited-string format for the extensions parameter. The default value for this delay in Piwik is milliseconds, but it can be manually set in the API code if you desire a shorter duration of delay time. If the delay time is too short though, you risk not tracking the data at all.

Here is how you set the pause timer to milliseconds, in our example in the tracking code: piwiktracker. By default, this is set to GET.

Piwik as an alternative to other web analytics platforms?

In order to set Piwik's request method to POST, your Piwik installation must be on the same server as the tracked website. Just add this function call above the trackpageview call in your tracking code, like so: piwiktracker. In this case, Piwik will not be able to track URLs.

Add it before the call to trackpageview, like so: piwiktracker.


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This is called prerendering. These days, even Google search results trigger prerendering of top search results, since there is a high chance of users clicking on top links. It is possible that prerendering may inflate page views. Setting setcountprerendered to true will track when pages get prerendered: piwiktracker. This is in the form of a a field in the HTTP header that the browser sends when it requests content from a website.

Although websites are currently not legally required to comply with the "Do not track" setting, the FTC called for a "Do not track" system as early as Mozilla browsers Firefox , Internet Explorer, Safari, and Opera currently support this setting and Chrome will be supporting it by the end of Very few websites recognize or respect this signal, because they are not required to, but Piwik has the setdonottrack method, which disables tracking for visitors who have set this setting in their browser.

Just set its argument to true and add it before the trackpageview call in your Piwik tracking code. The social network StumbleUpon allows users to browse through, comment on, and pass along websites through the use of frames. Google translate uses frames to translate a web page from one language to another. So, the fact that another website is framing yours may actually benefit you. But another site could be using frames to steal traffic. So, there are trade-offs to using Piwik's killframe method, which prevents websites from framing your site.

This method will be called after trackpageview, unlike the Piwik methods we have examined so far. This will allow the page view of the framed version of your site to be counted. This "file buster" can be added before trackpageview. The URL parameter is optional.

By default, this method redirects back to the URL of the saved page. It is added before the trackpageview call. The first is minimumvisitlength, which is the minimum time in seconds that you will count as a visit. The second parameter, heartbeatdelay, is the time in seconds between pings back to the Piwik server.

Using multiple trackers If you ever need to add more than one Piwik tracker per page, that is not a problem. You can do it and load piwik. This works because each call to Piwik. It works even if each Piwik tracker is pointing at a different server. We could just as easily have included piwik. An even smarter option when it comes to saving load time is to download piwik. Then we created two instances of Piwik. Then call trackpageview with each tracker to register a page view with each Piwik installation.

It is more code, but it may help with readability while learning how Piwik works. We mentioned downloading the piwik. This eliminates one more DNS lookup a visitor's browser has to do and can speed up load time. Another thing that can speed up load time when using Piwik's tracking code is asynchronous tracking. Using asynchronous tracking Traditionally, the JavaScript in an HTML page loads when a web page does, and if the code only has to execute to do its job and isn't designed to be triggered by a mouse click or some other user interaction, it executes right away.

In fact, it must be executed before the browser can begin to render the page. And this can be a problem. Anything below the script or the location where the script is included in the page will be blocked until the browser executes that code. But JavaScript code can be used to trigger the loading of other JavaScript code after the page itself has fully loaded. Loading JavaScript in this lazy fashion can visually speed up a site with heavy JavaScript a great deal.

In truth, the total payload a browser has to download is the same, but the visual, readable elements load faster. Piwik supports asynchronous tracking for those sites that need it. They are as follows: Because this code can execute in the background, without blocking other scripts and content in your site, your web pages will appear to load faster and visitor experience will be improved.

Because this code is added to the head of the page, you will get a more accurate count of visits.

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The visit can be counted even if the complete web page does not load. Piwik's asynchronous tracking code is a little different than the standard tracking code, but not by much. This variable will then be used to execute the code. If not, it creates a new empty array. This prevents the removal of any events that may have been queued before our code executed. Both of these attributes tell the browser that the code being included can be executed after everything on the page is done loading. Downloading the example code You can download the example code files for all Packt books you have purchased from your account at PacktPub.

Download Piwik Web Analytics Essentials by Stephan AMiller 2012 Paperback Free Books

If you purchased this book elsewhere, you can visit and register to have the files ed directly to you. We dug into Piwik's JavaScript tracking code and discovered how it does its job. We learned that it may be worthwhile for you to tweak the way you use Piwik, because not every website is the same.

Then we examined what changes we could make to our tracking configuration. We dug into cookies and found out how we can change the cookies that Piwik sets. We also set up some download and outlink tracking. We will be examining methods specific to campaigns, goals, e-commerce, and setting custom tracking variables in future chapters that are devoted to those topics.

In fact, the next chapter will be about setting up and tracking goals in Piwik, where we will learn how to use Piwik to measure and reach business objectives with website analytics. For more information, please read our shipping policy. Alternatively, you can buy the book from Amazon, BN. Method for obtaining data for web analysis Types of metrics.

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