If you have a website or a blog, you want to know visitor numbers and what posts are most popular. Burst Statistics is a Google Analytics alternative that is more private and open source.
Google Analytics dominates when it comes to analyzing a website’s traffic, and for good reason. It is powerful and it is possible to analyze visitors in great detail. It shows how many people visit a website, how many people view each page, the number of pages visitors view, where visitors came from (search, social etc.), what country they live in, what web browser they used and even what make and model of phone or tablet they used.
(In case you are wondering, a web browser freely gives all of that information to the websites you browse.)
That may sound comprehensive, but it is really just scratching the surface of what can be done with Google Analytics. It is popular because it is very good at analyzing website traffic.
Why you don’t want Google Analytics
Although Google Analytics is excellent in many ways, there are several reasons why you might not want to use it. One is that some people find it complicated. To make matters worse, Google has changed how it works and you are now required to switch to Google Analytics 4. Some people have had problems switching. See Make the switch to Google Analytics 4.
There are also privacy issues. Although there are settings in Google Analytics to anonymize data collected, some people still think it goes too far. There have been concerns about GA and GDPR privacy rules in the EU. It may be OK, but maybe not. It is confusing. It will probably get sorted out sooner or later, but it’s a mess right now.
Complexity and privacy concerns might push you to look for a Google analytics alternative that is simpler and more private. I looked at Koko Analytics and found it to be very basic, but useful. I also looked at the super simple Post Views Counter, which is even more basic. It just counts post views. Burst Statistics plugin for WordPress is better than both and it combines simple analytics with privacy.
Burst Statistics Google Analytics alternative
If you are looking for website traffic analysis and monitoring that is easier to install and understand, and also more private than Google Analytics, then Burst Statistics could be the answer. You cannot analyze website visitors to anywhere near the detail of GA, but it is very easy to use and it has sufficient information to satisfy many bloggers and hobbyist website owners.
Businesses and SEO experts will find it seriously lacking in features and information, but if you just want basic information, Burst Statistics has it:
- Unique website visitor counts
- Page views counts
- Desktop/phone/tablet usage
- Most visited pages on the site
- Top referrers (who sent them to your site?)
This is enough for many bloggers and website owners.
Set up Burst Analytics in WordPress
- Go to Plugins in the WordPress admin interface
- Click the Add New button at the top
- Enter “burst analytics” into the search box
- Click Install Now next to Burst analytics
- Click Activate
That’s it, you are done. All you do is install and activate the plugin like any other WordPress plugin. It just works. It starts collecting visitor data immediately, but you really need to wait a couple of days for it to gather enough to be worth viewing.
Burst Statistics in the dashboard
Go to the WordPress dashboard in admin mode and there is a Burst Statistics panel. If you do not see it, click Screen Options in the top right corner and tick the checkbox.
The dashboard panel shows the number of unique visitors and the average time per session. You can see the top referrer showing where most people came from and the most visited page on the website. There are Dashboard and Statistics links at the bottom of this panel.
Analyze website traffic with Burst Statistics
Click the Statistics link in the dashboard panel and a single page contains all of the website traffic analysis.
Insights in the top left corner shows unique visitors and page views. You can see that I installed it only a few days ago by the steep rise from zero. It will flatten out when there is a full week’s data.
On the right of the page are Compare and Devices panels. You can see the page views, sessions, unique visitors and bounce rate. Below each one is the difference from the previous seven days. The Devices panel shows the percentage of visitors using desktop, tablet and mobile devices, which is useful to know.
Also on the page is a long list of the most visited pages on the site and a list of the top referrers (the site that sent the visitor, like a search engine or social media link).
Configure Burst Statistics
Burst Statistics works without configuration and you just install and activate the plugin. On the dashboard are two switches in the Settings panel.
Enable Turbo Mode: Normally, Burst Statistics inserts its code into the page header so it is executed early on. Enable turbo mode and it is inserted into the footer after the page has finished loading. The advantage is that the page loads faster. The disadvantage is that it will not record visitors who immediately click away before the page has finished loading. However, you probably don’t want to count them anyway. I see this as a benefit, not a drawback.
Enable Cookieless Tracking: People don’t like tracking cookies or popup cookie notices on websites, so this option enables visitors to be analyzed without them.
Two on/off switches for settings. Is this all it does? No. It is possible to exclude logged-in users or specific IP addresses with some PHP coding. Examples are given on the Burst Statistics website. This is unnecessarily complicated and would be better implemented with simple switches in settings.
Burst Statistics is an alternative to Google Analytics for people that want a simpler way to set up and analyze website traffic. It does not provide anywhere near as much information as Google, but it is sufficient for some people, and it is easier to understand.
Burst Statistics does its work as privately as possible. It does not need cookies, it anonymizes visitor information, and it does not share anything with anyone else. All data is kept on your website and anonymized. This is great for website owners and visitors who are concerned about privacy and tracking on the web.
This WordPress plugin will not suit everyone, but for some people, this is a useful and private way to analyze website traffic.