I wrote an article earlier today about tweaking Google Analytics for social media search results, and it made me remember how useful Mint stats has been for my personal site.

Mint fills in a lot of gaps that Google Analytics leaves behind. It’s a really great way to get a quick glance at how your site is performing as a whole. Let’s start with the main screen:

The Mint Stats interface

As you can see, the interface is clean and each block (they’re called “Pepper”) is draggable so you can re-arrange as you prefer.

The first Pepper we’ll look at is visits:

The Mint Stats VISITS Pepper

You can view stats by all time, past day, week, month, or year. When you hover the mouse over a bar, it shows you the exact total number of visits for that time period. Dark green represents total visits for that period, and light green represents uniques. This is a great way to see day-to-day progress of your site and overall trends.

To me, the most useful Pepper is “Referrers” and this is where I get the best data:

Mint Stats referrers block

This shows you which domains are referring traffic to you. When you expand a domain, you get a view showing you exactly where on your site the referrals are going:

Mint Stats referrers window expanded

From this single window, you can ascertain the true reach of your content, as it spreads across the web, and where the traffic is coming from. This is especially useful in situations where you encounter load issues from “the Digg effect” (a piece of your content gets so popular on a social media aggregator that many people hit your site at once and it crashes or becomes unusably slow due to high load), because you can pinpoint almost exactly where the traffic surge is coming from and take steps to mitigate the damage.

You can also use this information to focus your outreach efforts. If you spend an hour or two a week submitting your content to some site and you never get any referral traffic from it, you can tell here if that time is wasted, and you can focus your efforts on communities that appreciate your content.

Next, I’ll look at the Searches box:

Mint Stats searches box

This gives you clear stats on what searches are landing on your pages. You can click the “found” tab on top to see where exactly those searches landed (it will give you the URL.) The “Most Common” tab shown above is an overall view of the searches that most often bring people to your site, while the most recent shows everything chronologically.

My other favorite box is the pages box:

Mint Stats Pages box

This box shows you, at a glance, all of your most popular content by a particular time period. This helps you feel the “pulse” of your site on an hour-by-hour basis.

There are other Pepper that can be useful for different types of sites. There is a list on the Mint website called the Peppermill.

Google Analytics is critical for anybody who is responsible for a website, but Mint is a powerful tool that can help bring a lot of intelligence into a single window, with a much cleaner interface than Google Analytics. Together, they can give you a better grip on all that data wrangling.