WordPress Administrator is a tough title to uphold, especially if you’re responsible for a multi-user WordPress website. For a better picture of what your fellow contributors are doing, consider using a tool to track user activity.
WordPress itself won’t tell you what your users are up to. With the right plugin, though, it's easy to see exactly what every user does while logged in.
In this post, we’ve collected the seven best plugins to record and report activity on your WordPress website right from your administrator dashboard. This way, you can keep tabs on users without opening any more tabs.
Why should you track user activity in WordPress?
Keeping a close eye on your users isn’t a bad thing. In fact, there are a handful of valid reasons to do this. First, and perhaps most importantly, you’ll be able to detect security threats from unauthorized logins, file modification, and spam accounts. WordPress tracking tools often emphasize this benefit in their descriptions.
Second, if you run a WordPress membership site or ecommerce site that assigns user roles to visitors, tracking activity tells you how visitors interact with your content, so you can optimize these aspects of your website. For example, you can track if customers know about discount codes, promotions, and content offers.
Finally, tracking user activity keeps your contributors, authors, editors, and fellow administrators accountable for their actions on your site. You’ll know wherever someone creates, alters, or deletes a page, post, plugin, or theme. If such a change results in an error, your audit tool can help revert back to your old settings and understand why the issue occurred.
Best Plugins for Tracking User Activity in WordPress
- HubSpot WordPress Plugin
- Activity Log
- WP Activity Log
- Simple History
- Sucuri Security
- User Activity Log
HubSpot’s analytics tools and CRM provide a seamless way for your online businesses to capture and keep track of your contacts.
Easily embed HubSpot forms or link your existing WordPress forms to start tracking activity as users navigate across your site. The plugin then stores your contacts’ page views, form submissions, email interactions, chat conversations, and more. You can zoom into this activity on a user basis or look at a dashboard to get a holistic view of your marketing performance.
2. Activity Log
Activity Log is a free, well-supported, and easy-to-use activity recording plugin for WordPress-powered websites. This tool will record modifications to posts and pages, custom post types, media, plugins, themes, WordPress settings, user login and profile changes, and a lot more.
In the settings menu, you can create custom email notification for certain events specific to your site. For example, you can trigger emails after suspicious login activity, or after unauthorized plugin and theme installations. Activity Log works with WooCommerce and bbPress websites to keep track of actions on your online store or membership site.
WP Activity Log has over 100,000 active installs, making it among the most popular audit plugins for WordPress. The free version logs when new users are created, when users log into your site, when passwords or profile settings are modified, and when users activate or deactivate plugins and themes.
However, the free edition of this plugin is somewhat limited. Starting at $89 per year, you can upgrade to the premium version of WP Activity Log. This unlocks real-time email and SMS notifications for specific trigger events, searching and filtering of your log, and integrations with third-party software, and detailed reporting. WP Activity Log Premium also removes ads.
One final unique feature of the premium version is the ability for administrators to force-logout any user with a click. In the case of unauthorized activity, this type of fast action is crucial. If this comprehensive plugin sounds like the right approach, consider an annual subscription.
The WordPress tracking plugin Simple History keeps things...well, simple. This free tracker shows you all changes made to your website in a log within your WordPress dashboard. Logged events include changes to posts, pages, attachments, taxonomies, comments, widgets, themes, plugins, user profiles, logins (including failed attempts), and menus. The activity log is easy to parse, and allows filtering and searching by change type
Simple History balances simplicity with flexibility thanks to its integrations with other WordPress plugins like Jetpack, Advanced Custom Fields, Duplicate Post, and Beaver Builder.
As its name implies, this plugin displays a real-time chronological "stream" of community activity. Stream requires little setup, and you can filter what you see in your stream by user, role, IP address, context, or action. As an administrator, you can view live reporting, receive notifications via email and webhooks, and export your site’s stream to CSV or JSON format for analysis in a different application.
Stream is free and integrates its tracking features with Jetpack, Gravity Forms, bbPress, BuddyPress, WooCommerce, Yoast SEO, and Advanced Custom Fields.
Sucuri is a cybersecurity company with a strong reputation in the space. Its free and widely-used WordPress security plugin enables tight control over your site, including an activity log of all user activity and email notifications after detecting suspicious activity.
Sucuri’s plugin also conducts WordPress core integrity checks, scans your theme and plugin files for malware, vulnerabilities, and unauthorized edits. It even provides guides in the unfortunate but very possible case that your website is successfully hacked.
User Activity Log is another tracking plugin that offers both a free and a premium version.
The free version of User Activity Log records activities related to WordPress updates, content creation and edits, categories and taxonomies, comments, and site settings. You’ll also get email notifications for specific user logins and integrations with Gravity Forms, WooCommerce, Yoast, and other plugins.
Upgrading to User Activity Log Pro unlocks many additional benefits: additional log sorting and filtering options, the ability to export your log, password protection for your log, extended customization of the log’s appearance, additional integration options, and a whole lot more outlined on the product page.
Tracking Down the Right WordPress Tracking Plugin
As we’ve seen, some tracking plugins are free while some are premium, and others freemium. Smaller sites should start with free options from this list, then upgrade to a paid subscription if necessary. However, larger online businesses will likely benefit from a premium plugin with more features for fine-tuned, personalized tracking.
Either way, a tracking plugin on your WordPress site will provide peace-of-mind and control over your powerful but fragile web infrastructure. If something goes wrong on your multi-user site, you won’t have to grasp at straws for the solution — the right add-on will remember it all for you.