If you’re running a website, you’ll want to know how many visitors it’s generating. You might be tempted to use one of the seven zillion ‘Free Stat counters’ offered on the interweb. This blog post was written to try and convince you about why that’s a bad idea. So, here’s four things to consider.
Note: Google Analytics, which is also a ‘Free Stat Counter’ is an exception to this rule. So are the stat counters that you can download as a plug-in for your CMS, like Joomla, WordPress… etc. etc.
1. Anti-virus software doesn’t like them
Many of the free stat counters are ‘marked’ by anti-virus software as dangerous, because of its ‘strange behavior’. Trend Micro, for example, throws 4 or 5 warnings at me every time I visit a customer website who uses a ‘Free Stat Counter’. Sure, you could ignore this problem. But will your visitors? And WHY do you think that these scripts are being marked as ‘dangerous’ in the first place?
2. They slow your website down
These stat counters use scripts that have one thing in common: they’ll slow down your site. No matter where their ‘code is placed on your page, the script always manages to become the first things that’s loaded. Because it loads before your actual page, your customers will have to wait longer for your page to load. And the attentive visitor might be wondering why you’re loading www.obscurestatswebsite.com instead of www.yoursite.com when they check their status bar.
3. You might be advertizing
Have you ever read the terms of agreement of such a ‘Free Stat Counter’? More often than not, they’re free to “summon” pop-ups, in which products are advertized. People don’t like pop-ups. And what does it say about your website when someone visits a page, and suddenly sees a pop-up for a product that’s not at all related to your site? Or, even worse, which promotes products of a competitor?
4. Are the stats reliable?
The stats that are gathered by your ‘free friends’ might seem impressive, but are they also reliable? I’m not 100% sure on this one, but I’ve got the idea that those stat counters “exaggerate” the traffic that your site draws. Which might look impressive, but do you want the truth or a ‘pimped’ version of the truth when it comes to your website?