Visitors to this and many other blogs may have noticed the proliferation of maps used to visualize the geographic location of a site’s readers. I use Clustrmaps myself and recommend it to others in most situations. But there are alternatives, and each service probably makes sense in different circumstances. Here’s an overview of 4 of the most popular visitor map services I’ve come across online. People love maps on blogs. Love them.
- Clustrmaps.com shows a nice looking map on your site’s front page, with red circles of varying size to indicate how many visitors have come from each location. You can click on the map to get a full page view. Paid subscribers can focus in one particular continents and have the Adsense removed from the top of the full page maps. Subscription is aprox. $10 per year. The maps can also be set to go blank and begin anew at intervals of your choice. These folks also have awesome customer service. I believe this map is good for sites wishing to demonstrate world-wide readership, but for which networking is less important than it is for business type sites. I’ve set one up, for example, at The Committee to Protect Bloggers. Much of the blogging there concerns the Middle East and Asia, so it’s interesting to compare subject matter and location of readership. Their map shows that there are many readers living in the areas written about.
- Frappr is a very full featured service. In addition to a scrollable Google mini-map on your site, there’s a click through full screen with extensive fields for community networking. In addition to posting photos, messages and links to the Google Maps used by Frappr, visitors can also send private messages to the site admin. Frappr asks visitors for their zip code and posts flags on the map accordingly. Users (“members”) can subscribe to email updates of new items posted to a map, admin can set up a slide-show of recently added photos, and who knows what else can be done with this amazing service. It appears to be supported by AdSense and AdBright. We’ll see how this service holds up under heavy adoption. You can browse a list of maps in use at the homepage of Frappr. This is a very impressive service, but may be too complex and over-featured for many blogs. There also doesn’t appear to be any support for RSS here.
- GVisit is like a way pared down Frappr. The interface is very dull, Google Map on grey background, and there’s no mini-map for your front page so you have to just put in a link. There are, however, some desirable features. A list of recent cities visiting, the time of visit shown when flags are clicked on. You can also display the cities of recent visitors on the front page of your site via RSS to HTML. The RSS feed of visitor locations is also subscribable. This service is free, but with a donation of any amount they will track your most recent 100 visitors (up from 20) and remove all advertising from your map (lately there’s been some pretty obnoxious AdSense). I think this service would make sense for people interested in displaying the text of an RSS feed of recent visitors’ locations on the front page of their site, but I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone else.
- Geo-Loc is a very cool French service. Past visitor locations are in red, visitors currently on the site are in green, and the countries where the current visitors online live are scrolled along the bottom of the map. I think this is rad! You can see the service in action over at the hilarious Barking Moonbat Early Warning System blog, about halfway down the right sidebar. (For those who don’t know, a Barking Moonbat is a raving leftist.) Or you can visit the Geo-Loc home page and view it there with more visitors. I can’t describe the service in depth as i haven’t done French since the 7th grade, and for now it’s beside the point anyway. I’m sad to report that according to the Subscribe page (and Google Translations)
The significant number of inscriptions requires a maintenance. The inscriptions will be available soon. Thank you for your comprehension.
That’s a shame, as this looks like a very cool tool for busy sites with global readership! I set up an email alert with Changedetection.com to let me know when the subscription page changes and new accounts are available again. I’d recommend this service to people who can read French, or who have a large number of readers who can. Just kidding, the map itself has only the words “now online” in English and the country names scrolling. Totally usable once you’ve got it installed.
Well, those are my little reviews. I’d love to read thoughts, horror stories, good experiences, interesting applications and alternative services if you’d like to leave a comment.