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Measuring Web Traffic

You have a website...but are your getting any visitors? What are some methods you can use to analyze your web traffic?

Is Anybody Seeing Your Site??

Now that you've spent a significant amount of cash getting your website up and running, the biggest question is:  Is Anybody Visiting My Site
 
There are several methods you can use to find our how many visitors you are getting.  Some are free, some are not.  Some you can do on your own, some require a little bit of help.
 

Page Counters

Page counters can be an inexpensive and easy way to track visitors.  A basic page counter is usually some type of server-side script that is run everytime someone visits your website.  Even among page counters, there is so much to choose from.  Here are some examples:
  • graphics or text based - if you want to display the number of visitors a particular page has received, there are many different formats.  Either picture-based or text-based to choose from
  • invisible - You may not want to show your visitors how popular (or unpopular) your site it.  Many counters give you the ability to make them invisible.
  • visitor aware - Some counters are smart enough to recognize when the same person keeps visiting your site.  They are only counted once.
There are many places on the Internet to get these free scripts.  Here is one source you can check out:
 
Some scripts require Perl, some require PHP, and others require MySQL.  Depending on the type of webserver you have, you can choose the one appropriate for you.
 
For all of these counters, the actual counter data is stored on your webserver itself.  The data can either be stored in flat text files or in a database.

Remotely Hosted Counters

There are many organizations out there that provide a type of "counter service".   The counter provider will give you a link to add to your site.  Each time you have a visitor to your site, the counter provider's webserver stores some information about that visitor.
 
Remotely Hosted Counters can give you tons of information about the visitor's to our site.  They can tell you how visitor's go to your site, where they are from, what type of browser they are using, etc....
 
Some of counter providers charge a fee, other offer the service for "free".  The "free" ones make their money through advertising.  Every time you go to retrieve your site statistics, they will show you some ads from their sponsors.  Other "free" counter providers will make you dispaly a banner on your site or provide a visible link back to them.
 
For all remotely hosted counters, the data is all stored on the counter provider's web server.  With these types of counters, you need to worry about the reliability and response time of the remote host.  If your page loading time goes up because it is waiting for the counter provider's web server, this may aggravate visitors.
 
If you are interested in remotely hosted counters, check out this site:
 

Server Log Parsing

This is the preferred method of gathering visitor statistics for your website.  Most webservers keep a record of all visitors.  The log contains a bunch of information about the visitor:  where they came from, what page they are on, etc....  If you have access to these server logs, there are programs available that can parse through these raw server logs and display the results in a nice format.
 
Using server logs to track visitors is fast.  Your website does not need to contact any remote host to store the visitor information.  All the information is stored locally on your own web server.
 
There is also no advertising or banners to worry about.  You do not have to worry about the reliability of your counter because your counter will be as reliable as your website is (which is hopefully a good thing).
 
Check out this link for a review of various log analyzers:
 
The only drawback to using a log analyzer is that you need access to ther server logs and you need to be able to install and run the analyzer software on your web server.  Check with your web server provider to see what capabilities your web server has.  Maybe they are have analyzer software installed for you to use.
 
 
All of the sites on Krimar's web server are analyzed using the webalizer.

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