How to Analyze Your Web Site Traffic
Getting traffic to your web site without analyzing it, is like being blindfolded in a
crowd. You hear voices, but you don't know which direction they are coming from or
who they are. Without analyzing your web site traffic, it's difficult to improve your
web site marketing.
Know Your Traffic Language
You should be aware of the different terms used to describe web site traffic, so as
not to be confused about your web site visitors. Here are the main terms used:
Visit - these are all requests made by a specific user to the site during a set period
of time. The visit is ended if a set period of time (say 30 minutes) goes by with no
further accesses. Users are identified by cookies, username or hostnames/ip addresses.
Hit - this is a request to the server for a file not a page. Your page can be made up
resulting in a number of hits for that page. Each of these requests is called a hit.
Counting hits is not the same as tracking pageviews. It takes multiple hits to view a page.
Pageview/Impression - this is the number of times a page is accessed as a whole.
Unique View - A page view by a unique person within a 24 hour period.
Referrer - A page that links to your site. By looking at your referrers will tell you
who's linked to your site. This can be particularly valuable for seeing where your
search engine traffic is coming from.
User Agent - This refers to the software used to access your site. Sometimes known as
a "browser" or "client", the term user agent can describe a PHP script, a browser like
Internet Explorer, or a search engine spider like GoogleBot. If you can identify what
software is being used to access your site, you'll be able to tell if users are abusing
it, and when the search engines last crawled your pages.
How to Analyze Your Web Site Traffic (Part 2 of a 3 Part Series)
Copyright 2002 by Herman Drost
In Part 1 of this series, we discussed the the different terms used to describe web
site traffic language.
Ways to Track Your Visitors
1. Counters - these are heavily used on web sites by newbies but appear unprofessional.
It is very common to go to a page and see something like "You are visitor number 12345
to this page". These numbers cannot be trusted as the page designer has the ability to
seed the base number or to alter the counter such that it adds more than 1 each time.