by MaryJo Scamurra
Web site statistics are much more sophisticated than the simple traffic counter inserted into web pages. Sure, they will give you a traffic count, but what you can gain goes much deeper than that.
Most web hosts provide a traffic log, but if you have ever tried to read them - or better yet, understand them - you know it can be difficult and time consuming.
There is another option, a traffic analyzer. This is an easy-to-read statistic finding tool that should be used by every web site to record the information listed below (and many record even more!).
Representation of the actual number of people visiting your site, including unique and repeat visitors. See which times of the day are peak traffic times and which are slow. For example, if you normally update your site each Thursday at 4 P.M. and your stats tell you that is a peak traffic hour, you may want to change your update schedule so not to interfere with your peak traffic.
Learn the exact URL your visitors are coming from, or if they are coming from a bookmark (when your URL is typed directly into a browser). If you participate in banner advertising on other web sites this information will help determine which ads are generating the most traffic.
Search Engine Keywords:
This feature allows you to see which keywords are being used to locate you on the search engines. This comes in handy when you bid on keywords on such search engines as Go.com. WebPosition Gold, http://www.webposition.com/d2.pl?r=HAH-55D8, is software that lets you know what position you are ranked and how to improve your position on the major search engines.
If you know which browsers are most frequently used by your visitors you will have a better understanding of what you should optimize your site for, since each browser views web pages differently. Software that can help you with browser optimization can be found at http://www.codo.com/browserola/
You may be surprised to learn how many foreign visitors you receive to your site. If warranted, consider expanding your market to serve international clients and offer translated pages. Translator software can be found at http://www.speechtech.net/easy_translator.htm
Easily notice which pages are viewed the most and viewed the least. Find out which are the most common entry and exit pages. Discover how long each visit to your site is and the paths that were taken. The combination of these statistics can offer quite a bit of useful information.
File Not Found/Broken Links:
If your visitors receive a 404 error it will be recorded, as well as any hyperlinks that could not be accessed. This valuable statistic will help you maintain your site, so your visitors don't feel as though they've hit a brick wall. A free service provided by http://www.linkguard.com will check each link on your site and report any broken ones.
There are many free web statistic services available for your use. Some very nice ones can be found at:
Once you begin to monitor your web site statistics on a regular basis, you will find a better understanding of the people that visit your site and you will be able to determine where changes and improvements are needed in order to keep them coming back.
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