… starting from the point where the story stopped.
Site Tools’ left column acts as a navigation bar which holds all tools, grouped by themes. There were 12 topic-specific sections in cPanel . . . There are now only nine themes in Site Tools: Dashboard, Site, Security, Speed, WordPress, Domain, Email, Statistics, and Devs.
There were eight tools listed in the Visitor Stats section of cPanel. Admittedly, many1 were leading to nothing but an error message –
Sorry, the tool you are looking for is no longer available – and, in reality, there were only four tools left: Raw Access Logs, Error Logs, AWStats and Account Stats. In fact, the latter was just a link to the Detailed Stats, which has been replaced with This Month Statistics in the Dashboard. If my math is correct, these correspond to the three tools still present in Site Tools.
The AWStats data is now available with a new interface in Site Tools > Statistics > Traffic for each site. The detailed statistics in the Traffic tool are split by audiences, sources, behaviour, and technology.SiteGround
The traffic statistics extracts visitors information from your server logs and visualizes it in easy-to-read graphics. You can get valuable information about unique visitors, pageviews, visitors browsers and preferred search engines, as well as keywords that have been used to bring traffic to your website.
At first sight, it looks like the statement that the detailed AWStats data are still available through this new interface is true. Very quickly, however, you will realize – if you were using AWStats before as I was – that this is not the case. My biggest concern, indeed, is that many of the statistics are not provided anymore!
In addition to this loss of information (see below for details), some of the functionalities are also gone! For instance, with AWStats, you could not only check your statistics monthly (as it is still the case in the Traffic tool), but also yearly. A very useful feature that is not available in the SiteGround tool.
If you compare this tab with the summary table in AWStats, you will notice that, out the 12 items that were displayed in this table, there are only four left:
- Unique Visitors
- Average Number of Pages per Visit
What happen to the number of accessed files, namely Hits? What happen to the information concerning the traffic generated by robots, worms, or replies with special HTTP status codes? What happen to the other items?
“All gone, I am afraid!”
Fortunately, I was able to check the statistics for a period before the migration to Site Tools, i.e. a period for which I had some AWStats data available. When comparing both sets of data, I immediately realized that something else was wrong. In AWSats you could check your stats separately for the non-secure and the secure (i.e. SSL) version of your site(s). Due to Apache setup, there was indeed one access log for HTTP requests and another for the HTTPS requests, allowing you to have a separate analysis for each URLs. While some people were complaining about this, I was not among them – quite the contrary! In short, I do not like the fact that the new tool provides aggregated statistics (i.e. both HTTP and HTTPS combined). It looks like an artificial way to inflate your visitors’ stats.
Even if HTTPS is forced, you will get records for the non-encrypted version because hits are recorded before the redirect.Hristo Pandjarov
In AWStats, there was also some valuable information concerning when your website is accessed the most. The data about Pages, Hits and Bandwidth were indeed processed further into “Days of week” and “Hours” categories. Knowing which day or at what time of the day your website receives its main traffic might inform and influence your publishing strategies indeed. Although it is possible to figure out the former from the Table View (i.e. daily use for each day of the month) of the new tool, there is no easy way to get the latter.
In this tab, you will find the Pageviews and Hits for the top eight countries. Besides the choice of listing only eight countries (as opposed to 25 in AWStats), I was wondering why SiteGround decided to provide information about Hits here (and not in the Traffic summary section). Curiously, they also decided to establish the country ranking based on Hits; not based on Pageviews (as it was in AWStats). Last, but not least, as opposed to AWStats, this tool does not provide any info about Bandwidth.
Again, the tool is not providing as much information as AWStats; still, this is not as critical as the other issues. That’s why I did not list the aforementioned problems as issue #5.
There are three types of sources available in this tab:
- Search Engines
Keeping in mind the same concerns as before (i.e. twice as much counts as it should be), the tool gives the same info as AWStats was, that is Hits (except for keywords) and Pageviews. That being said, there were a lot more useful information in AWStats. Again! In particular, this software was providing you with the percent of Direct Access vs. Search Engines vs. other Referrers (i.e. how people reach you site). Gone! Another key info (pun not intended), now also gone, was the keyphrases (in addition to keywords) used by people to find your site.
Under the Select Source drop-down menu, you can decide to display:
- Most Visited Pages (Pageviews only)
- Most Visited Files Per Type (Hits and Bandwidth)
- HTTPS Status Code (Pageviews only)
These info were available in AWStats as well, except that in addition to Pageviews (for the most visited URLs), your had access to Bandwidth and, even more important, info about Entry Page and Exit Page. Not in Site Tools. In addition to the number of Hits and Bandwidth for each File Type, there was also info about the top 10 downloads. Also gone! Concerning the HTTP Status Codes, the data were about Hits and Bandwidth (not Pageviews). However, there was an extremely useful link to a page detailing all 404 errors. Guess what! This is gone!
Another key data processed by AWStats – but not available in the Traffic tool – was the number of visits for each of the following visit duration categories: 0s-30s; 30s-2mn; 2mn-5mn; 5mn-15mn; 15mn-30mn; 30mn-1h; 1h+. Given the importance of this statistic to understand your visitors’ behavior, I don’t even get why it is not provided in this so-called section: issue #7!
Here you can find info (Hits only; as opposed to both Hits and Pages for AWStats) about the operating systems and browsers that were used to access your website.
Knowing which browsers your visitors use most can help you optimize your site for each browser and show you which browser you should concentrate on when redesigning your pages.Peter Pollock
The error log displays the 300 most recent errors that have occurred when accessing your website over HTTP or HTTPS. Reviewing the error log can be useful for troubleshooting broken links, files and other errors.
From the Select Domain drop list, you can do just that and you will see the results (for that domain name) in the Error Logs section below. If there is no error, you will see this message:
There are no errors found on your website recently.
Otherwise, you will have Error logs. Duh!
Error Log Format
According to Apache documentation,
the server error log . . . is the most important log file. Indeed, it contains all the diagnostic information or errors sent by Apache2. While the format of the error log can be customized, a typical log message will look like this:
2021-06-17 06:11:48 UTC [apache][core:error][pid 43946][ client 188.8.131.52:48138] File does not exist: /usr/local/apache2/htdocs/favicon.ico, referer: www.google.com
In the above example, the first item in the log entry is the timestamp for the message. The severity level of that message (e.g. error, info, etc.) and the module producing the message (i.e. core) are also indicated. Next comes the process ID and the client IP address (and string). The most important is probably the error message itself, but it can be useful to know the referrer as well.
In the access log you can see who has visited your website recently. Reviewing the access log can be useful to monitor suspicious activity on your website and get visitors information.
Here too, you can see the results – for the selected domain – in the Access Logs section. As for the error log, the format of the access log is highly configurable. SiteGround choice is as follow:
IP address – [the timestamp] "the HTTP activity (e.g. GET for content download)" the HTTP response code (e.g. 200) _ total size in bytes of data downloaded "the referrer URL or '-' if any" "the browser or search spiders"
Unfortunately, you can only see the most recent access logs. If you need those from a previous date, you need to check the logs directory in the domain (or subdomain) in your account. Still, you can only access up to 30 days back. By the way, there was the possibility to archive them in cPanel. This option is gone!
Of course, storing the information in the access log is only the start of log management. The next step is to analyze this information to produce useful statistics.The Apache Software Foundation
Clearly, SiteGround did some much-needed housekeeping in the late Statistics section of cPanel. However, in the process, they may have thrown out the baby with the bathwater. Again, what happen to the following claim?
With the new interfaces we are not removing but adding functionality for our customers . . . There is no functionality that we are sacrificing, no functionality removed from . . . Everything, that we used to offer in terms of functionality, control, features is there.Hristo Pandjarov
I like… nothing, not even the new design!
I don’t like… that they replaced a powerful statistic software with such a limited (in term of data and features) tool. At least seven of the essential functionalities and/or statistics (that were available with AWStats) are missing in the SiteGround tool.
Having a good web analytic program is essential to know more about who visits your site (and how they do so). In keeping with this idea, AWStats is an abbreviation for “Advanced Web Statistics”; the new SiteGround tool should be named “Limited Web Statistics” instead of Traffic. Clearly, it doesn’t compare to the
powerful and featureful tool that was AWStats.
To be continued…
1 Among them, it is worth mentioning Webalizer, the free weblog analysis program. Could the long period – 7 years at the time of this writing – without any update be the reason for its removal? The current version was indeed released on August 26, 2013. ^
2 If you don’t know what Apache is, you may want to consider reading my post on web host or directly check at the source. ^