Tools to Track Your Site Visitors
There are many reasons why a web site owner would want to track the number of visitors to
her site, and almost as many ways to do it. This article will compare two well-known tools
as a demonstration of the range of options currently available.
Site Meter's Free Version
Site Meter offers two levels of
information, one set for free and an additional set for a small monthly fee. For no charge
you can get a bit of code to add to your home page that will count the number of visitors
who arrive there. You can choose from a variety of visible counters that show how many visitors
you've had. If you prefer not to show a number, you can choose a small colored square instead.
Once this is installed, Site Meter starts counting your visitors and will email you the total
each week. I recommend you activate the optional Ignore Visits feature. Then, when you visit
your own site, those visits are not added to the total, giving you a more accurate count.
Any time you like, you can use your code name and password to access more information
about your visitors online. Among the statistics gathered are: referrals (where they came
from), time spent on your site, number of pages visited, time zone, computer operating
These last two are especially valuable if you have put the code onto all of your important pages.
Site Meter's Paid Version
For $6.95 USD per month, (as of this writing) you can get several other features added to
your account. The first is an invisible counter. Many people find this gives a more professional
look to the site, especially compared to having an odometer-style counter on each page.
In addition, it will tell you which search engines bring you the most visits and the most
page views. It will also list the exact phrases that were typed into the search engines to
find you. This kind of information is especially valuable if your are counting on getting
a lot of your traffic through the search engines.
If you want to do additional analysis on your own you can download a comma-delimited
document you can open in Excel or another spreadsheet program. One of these two levels
(free or paid) will be sufficient for most small business web sites. Expect your web
designer to charge a modest fee for each page the code is placed on.
Into the Big Time: WebTrends
At the other end of he spectrum is a much more sophisticated (and expensive) traffic
analysis tool, Web Trends. WebTrends
offers a range of products, suitable for the small-but-serious online business, up to an
enterprise version that is designed for sites that receive millions of unique visitors per
month. This article will only discuss two of the more modest offerings.