|Understanding Web Statistics
Understanding what your visitors do on your site is crucial
information. If your visitors proceed to purchase a product
but then a large majority leaves the site when they get to a
specific page in the order process, you need to know about it.
It could be that this page is confusing or hard to use. Fixing
it could increase your sales by 200%. This is just an example;
there are many reasons why you want a detailed analysis of your
Most website hosting services offer a stats package that you
can study. If you're not sure where this is, call up your hosting
service and ask them. Statistics are a vital part of tracking
your marketing progress. If you don't have access to website
statistics get a package that can help you in this area. Do
not get a counter that simply shows how many visitors you've
had. You'll be missing out on vital information that can help
strengthen weaknesses in your site.
A good website hosting service offers traffic logs that provide
an invaluable insight into the traffic being referred to a web
site from various sources such as search engines, directories
and other links.
Unfortunately traffic tracking provided by web hosting services
is often in the form of raw traffic log files or other difficult
to understand cryptic formats. These log files are basically
text files that describe actions on the site. It is literally
impossible to use the raw log files to understand what your
visitors are doing. If you do not have the patience to go through
these huge traffic logs, opting for a traffic-logging package
would be a good idea.
Basically, two options are available to you and these are: using
a log analysis package or subscribing to a remotely hosted traffic
logging service. A remotely hosted traffic logging service may
be easy to use and is generally the cheaper option of the two.
WebTrends Live and HitsLink are two good, remotely hosted, traffic-monitoring
services worth considering. However, WebTrends Live is a more
complicated system and is suitable for larger ecommerce websites.
"SuperStats" is another recommended traffic logging service.
These services do not use your log files. Typically a small
section of code is placed on any page you want to track. When
the page is viewed, information is stored on the remote server
and available in real time to view in charts and tables form.
Log analysis packages are typically expensive to buy and complex
to set up. Apart from commercial packages there are also some
free log analysis packages available, such as Analog.
A good traffic logging service would provide statistics pertaining
to the following:
- How many people visit your site?
- Where are they from?
- How are visitors finding your site?
- What traffic is coming from search engines, links from other
sites, and other sources?
- What keyword search phrases are they using to find your site?
- What pages are frequented the most - what information are
visitors most interested in?
- How do visitors navigate within your web site?
Knowing the answers to these and other fundamental questions
is essential for making informed decisions that maximize the
return on investment (ROI) of your web site investment.
The most important aspect of tracking visitors to your website
is analyzing all the statistics you get from your tracking software.
The three main statistics that will show your overall progress
are hits, visitors and page views. Hits are tracked when any
picture or page loads from your server on to a visitor's browser.
Hits, however, can be very misleading. It is quite an irrelevant
statistic for your website.
The statistic that is probably the most important for a website
is Page Views/Visitors. This gives you a good indication of
two things. First, how many people are coming to your site,
and secondly how long are they staying on your site. If you
have 250 visitors and 300 page views you can figure that most
visitors view one page on your site and then leave. Generally,
if you're not getting 2 page views per visitor then you should
consider upgrading your site's content so your visitors will
stay around longer.
If you see the number of visitors you have increasing as well
as the number of page views per visitor increasing then keep
up the good work! Always look for this stat as an overall barometer
of how your site design is going and if your marketing campaigns
are taking hold.
Also, a good stat to look for is unique visitors. Once a person
visits your site they will not be added to the unique visitors'
category if they visit again. This is a good way to track new
visitors to your website.
Page views are a good indication of how "sticky" your website
is. A good statistic to keep is Page Views divided by the number
of Visitors you have. This statistic will give you a good idea
if your content is interesting and if your visitors are staying
on your site for a long time and surfing.
Some people are intimidated by web traffic statistics (mostly
because of the sheer volume of data available), but they shouldn't
be. While there are many highly specialized statistics that
can be used for more in-depth web traffic analysis, the above
areas alone can provide invaluable information on your visitors
and your website performance. Remember- this data is available
for a reason. It's up to you to use it.
About the author:
Alden Smith is an award winning author who has been marketing
on the internet for over 7 years. His site, http://www.for-the-record.biz,