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WordPress Plugin: Simple Feed Stats

[ Simple Feed Stats ] Simple Feed Stats is a free WordPress plugin that makes it easy to track your feeds, add custom content, and display your feed statistics on your site. Simple Feed Stats (SFS) tracks your feeds automatically, and provides a wealth of tools and options for further configuration and management. To see Simple Feed Stats in action, check out my code-snippets site, WP-Mix.com (you can find the SFS count badge in the sidebar of any page).

Installation & Usage

Upload the /simple-feed-stats/ directory to your /plugins/ folder and activate from the Plugins page in the WP Admin. Then visit the Simple Feed Stats Settings page to view your stats, customize options, grab shortcodes, and more. Everything works automatically out of the box, with plenty of tools and options to customize and manage your feed stats.

How it works..

Simple Feed Stats tracks your feeds using a variety of tracking methods. The default tracking method is recommended for default WordPress feeds, such as:

  • Content RDFhttps://example.com/feed/rdf/
  • Content RSShttps://example.com/feed/rss/
  • Content RSS2https://example.com/feed/
  • Content Atomhttps://example.com/feed/atom/
  • Comments RDFhttps://example.com/comments/feed/rdf/
  • Comments RSS2https://example.com/comments/feed/
  • Comments Atomhttps://example.com/comments/feed/atom/

Basically it tracks all feeds by default and displays your feed statistics on the SFS settings page, like so:

[ SFS Feed Stats ]
SFS color-codes stats by feed type and displays data in clear, concise format

Tracking methods

Simple Feed Stats provides three four different ways to track your feeds:

  • Default tracking – tracks directly via feed request
  • Custom tracking – tracks via embedded post image
  • Alternate tracking – tracks via embedded feed image
  • Open tracking – open tracking via embedded image

As discussed, default tracking is best for default (non-redirected) WP feeds. For feeds that are redirected to a 3rd-party service such as FeedBurner, any of the other three tracking methods may be used, depending on your feed configuration. Custom tracking is recommended when delivering Full-text feeds, while Open tracking is recommended for Summary (or partial) feeds. Alternate tracking is an experimental method that may be used for other scenarios.

Collected data

Simple Feed Stats tracks the following data for each feed request:

  • Feed type
  • IP address
  • Referrer
  • Requested URL
  • User-agent
  • Date and more

Once data is collected, it will be displayed in the SFS Settings page. Visit the Template Tags & Shortcodes panel for info on displaying the stats publicly on your site. Here is a screenshot of the luxe SFS Settings Page:

[ SFS Settings Page ]
SFS brings the luxe interface with toggling panels for a fluid, focused experience

Displaying your feed stats

To display your feed stats on the front-end of your site, visit the Template Tags & Shortcodes panel on the SFS Settings page. There you will find multiple options:

Simple feed count (number/text only)

To display your current subscriber count as simple text, add the following template tag anywhere in your theme (e.g., sidebar, footer, etc.):

<?php if(function_exists('sfs_display_subscriber_count')) sfs_display_subscriber_count(); ?>

This is ideal for marking up and styling your own stats button or whatever you want. Alternately, to display your current subscriber count in a post or page, add the following shortcode:

[sfs_subscriber_count]

Feed count badge (like Feedburner)

[ SFS Count Badge ] To display your stats with a badge that looks like the Feedburner chicklet, add the following template tag anywhere in your theme:

<?php if(function_exists('sfs_display_count_badge')) sfs_display_count_badge(); ?>

Alternately, to display a Feedburner-style badge in a post or page, add the following shortcode:

[sfs_count_badge]

When included in a post or page, either of these techniques will display your feed stats to look similar to the FeedBurner chicklet. To customize its appearance, visit the Tools & Options panel and edit the “Custom CSS” field with any styles you wish. This makes it easy to customize your stats from the comfort of the WP Admin.

Add custom content to your feed

Simple Feed Stats also makes it easy to add custom content content to your feeds. Just visit Tools & Options and add text/markup to the feed header and/or footer (see following screenshot):

[ SFS Custom Content ]
SFS lets you add custom content to your WordPress feeds

This option is intended to consolidate plugin functionality while providing your readers additional/bonus content. It may also be useful during FeedBurner-migration campaigns (see about the different tracking methods for more info).

More features and tools

In addition to tracking, viewing, and displaying your feed stats, SFS provides the following awesome features:

  • Dashboard widget – provides quick overview of your feed stats
  • Custom feed content – embellish your feed with custom graphics, markup, and text content
  • Custom feed count – display any number or text for your feed count
  • Custom CSS – use your own styles to customize your feed stats
  • Clear, reset, restore, delete – options to clear the cache, reset your stats, restore default settings, and delete the SFS database table
[ SFS Database Options ]
SFS makes it easy to manage the plugin, its data and options

Plus much more! I’ve put a lot of time and care into making this a robust, flexible, and full-featured plugin, with special attention given to the SFS Settings page. No such thing as too much love.

About the different tracking methods

What’s the best tracking method? For default WordPress feeds, the Default tracking method provides the most accurate results. By hooking directly into the feed-generation process, SFS is able to record data every time someone or something accesses your feed. If possible, use the Default tracking method.

If you’re using FeedBurner you’ll want to continue using their statistics for as long as FeedBurner continues the service. As many of you know, FeedBurner shut down their API on October 20th, 2012. The FeedBurner feed-delivery service will continue until Google decides otherwise, and I think most users will continue to rely on the service until that time.

What if I want to transition away from FeedBurner? Initially, this is why I began working on this plugin. I wanted a solid, open-source alternative to FeedBurner. Honestly, the only reason I use FeedBurner is to track the number of subscribers, which FeedBurner does remarkably well using its own algorithms and a wide variety of data. Unfortunately Google doesn’t make its algorithms and data available to the public, making it virtually impossible to achieve the same “subscriber count” without making some serious assumptions. The SFS plugin tracks organically and does not make any assumptions, meaning that its daily “subscriber count” is a much lower number than the one that FeedBurner provides.

[ SFS Tracking Methods ]
SFS provides multiple tracking options for better flexibility and accuracy

How does Alternate tracking work? Alternate tracking works by injecting a tracking image into the XML of WP-generated feeds. It uses a technique I wrote about back in 2007. For further details, check out Customizing WordPress Feeds (jump to the functions.php examples).

How does Open Tracking work? Open tracking works by using a tracking URL as the src of any image. Once the tracking image is included in a page or feed, the SFS plugin uses it to track the page, and returns a user-specified image that’s displayed in place of the tracking URL in the src attribute. Confusing? Check out SFS Open Tracking for more information.

How does Custom tracking work? Custom tracking works by including a tracking image in the first post of your feed. The SFS plugin then tracks every time your entire feed is accessed. Current plans are to add yet another tracking method whereby the tracking image is included in every feed post. This may produce daily stats that are closer to the ones that FeedBurner delivers. Please share any thoughts you may have on this.

Download

Download Simple Feed Stats from the WordPress.org Plugin Directory:

Jeff Starr
About the Author Jeff Starr = Web Developer. Security Specialist. WordPress Buff.
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77 responses
  1. Ok, but now 2 days have passed – would that be considered normal when it comes to collecting data? I still can´t see anything, what kind of tracking method should I use?

    • Jeff Starr

      Hmm.. with the default setting and people accessing your feed(s), there should be some data after 24 hours. What is the feed URL(s) you are tracking?

  2. Bernadette April 8, 2013 @ 5:54 pm

    I love watching my numbers! Today, however, I posted a story at about 6:00 and by 7:30 it had 327 views. That would be wonderful, but it’s not showing up in my other stats that I’ve had 327 views total today. When it counts a view, what is it counting? Thanks!

    • Jeff Starr

      Yes it is a lot of fun! Each view counts someone/something accessing one of the feeds. It can take 24 hours before the numbers settle down and started making sense :)

  3. cat watson April 9, 2013 @ 9:41 pm

    Hi there,

    I recently installed this plugin on my blog, and the stats are showing that I have 73 current subscribers…but my feedburner is saying I have zero. I’ve always had trouble with feedburner and wondered if I have it set up correctly because the lack of data seemed weird. I have a subscribe by email button on my page, should I just delete feedburner and use that instead?

    Thanks!

    Cat

    • Jeff Starr

      I would keep both, but you should be using your site’s feed URL instead of FeedBurner’s URL for any “subscribe to” buttons.

  4. Jorunn Aamodt April 17, 2013 @ 4:29 am

    Thanks for a great plugin! Works really well but I’m a bit confused by what the numbers actually mean.

    I guess “Current subscribers count” is the number of people who have viewed your feed during the last 24 hours?

    But what is Total subscribers count? Is it the total number of the people who are subscribing to my feed – or is the number of people who at some point have subscribed to my feed (and may not do so anymore)?

    Which number tells me how many people subscribe to my feed?

    Thanks! :-)

    • Jeff Starr

      That is correct, the Current subscriber count provides an approximation of the number of subscribers, while the Total subscriber count is an all-time number that’s just FYI :-)

  5. Hi again, one month later I still have no stats and I do have subscribers – what could I be doing wrong? Is there something I have to do besides installing it that I´ve missed?

    Thanks in advance! :-)

    • Jeff Starr

      Hi Tina, it sounds like there may be some incompatibility with another plugin or something.. you may want to go through the readme.txt and settings again, or if nothing jumps out maybe uninstall and use another plugin (I’ve seen at least two or three others for feed tracking).

  6. Kevin Muldoon May 13, 2013 @ 9:12 pm

    Great work Jeff. I initially installed the plugin but wasn’t sure about it. I reinstalled it a few weeks ago and I have found it interesting.

    I am seeing some funny results with my subscribers though. One day I have a few hundred, the next day I have over 1,600. It seems to be quite erratic. I only send an RSS-to-Email newsletter once a week; so I am unsure as to why the numbers are varying so much. Not am I sure which to believe.

    Kevin

    • Jeff Starr

      Hey Kevin, the plugin is a work in progress designed to help people get off of Feedburner, which most likely won’t be around forever. But yes the plugin is a bit rough and may vary in feed stats, depending on how you’ve got things set up and so forth. I use the plugin at one of my sites and it delivers pretty consistent numbers, although they too vary a bit from day to day. Hopefully it’s a good step in the right direction!

  7. Kevin Muldoon May 14, 2013 @ 3:00 pm

    Thanks for replying Jeff. Hope my initial comment wasn’t taken as criticism – that was certainly not the case. I have used Feedburner and FeedBlitz in the past and moving forward, I am reluctant to use a third party service to track subscribers. Long term, it only seems to lead to me losing subscribers.

    There is no other plugins out there like Simple Feed Stats. So in a way, you are a pioneer in this field.

    Have you thought about tracking stats long term? That is, saving stats long term so that the growth of subscribers can be viewed at any particular point.

    My count is similar today. Out of interest, how does the plugin handle services such as Aweber sending out a newsletter that was created using an RSS feed?

    Kevin

  8. I’ve installed the plugin twice now, but both times it hasn’t started collecting any data, even 72 hours after installation. I know I have more than 0 subscribers. Please help!

    • Jeff Starr

      Hi Bowen, usually that’s a sign that something (eg, another plugin) is interfering or something is not configured correctly. I would go through the settings one more time and see if everything makes sense, and also check that the tracking method is suited for your specific feed types/formats.

  9. Bernadette June 29, 2013 @ 6:02 pm

    I’ve been watching my feed stats with the chicklet on my site, very fun and easy to check. I am presuming the number indicates people actually calling up the articles in their feed reader. I also have Jetpack stats plus a Page Views Count plugin, and I’m trying to coordinate all these numbers.

    In my little chicklet I see an average of 1,000 subscribers over time, but I have two questions.

    1. How do I use this number when I am reporting site stats?

    2. I am actually delivering full-text feeds, so I should probably have been using “Custom” all along. I can change this, but how is the “image” embedded that is mentioned for tracking? Do I embed that, or is that a function of Simple Feed Stats?

    Thanks!

  10. Daniel Brenton June 29, 2013 @ 9:10 pm

    Jeff —

    I’d really like to use your plugin, so I will ask again: when I activate it, I get:

    Warning: mysql_fetch_row(): supplied argument is not a valid MySQL result resource in /home/dbrenton/public_html/my_website_dot_com/wp-content/plugins/simple-feed-stats/simple-feed-stats.php on line 636

    • Jeff Starr

      Hi Daniel, thanks for the feedback. I’m aware of this PHP warning and will look into it for the next update. Cheers.

      • Daniel Brenton June 30, 2013 @ 8:40 pm

        Jeff —

        At the moment I show zero subscribers on my feeds, which I know is not correct, because I added the main feed and comment feed through Yahoo reader about 22 hours ago. I don’t know how long your plugin is supposed to take to register new subscribers, but naturally, I’m tending to think these errors may have something to do with that. Just sayin’.

        — Daniel

      • Jeff Starr

        Yep, got it. Thank you (again) :)

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