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Analyzing Your Way To Success

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Once your site is indexed, analyzing your logs becomes extremely important. There is a wealth of information just waiting for you to use.

Now this presumes you have logs which you can analyze. If you don’t, there are sites which offer free site tracking and you can find them if you do a search.

Warning: If you do use these free tracking services, the link you must put on your pages to get their “free” reports can usually be clicked on by anybody; therefore, your statistics are not secure and always available for viewing.

There are two types of logs which hosting companies offer – raw data which are useless unless you have a program which can decipher the “gobbledy goop” (like the free software you can get at http://www.analog.cx) and/or logs which present the data in a usable form.

If it’s a toss up as to which hosting company to use (based on price and storage capabilities), opt for the company which has a software program in their admin area which presents your logs using charts, graphs and tables. These logs will help you create a spider friendly site.

For instance, logs tell you:

How many “unique visitors” come each day, week and month
You want to keep track because it will be your first clue if your keywords and phrases are still doing their job in search engines. In my logs, this is called “sessions.” Yours might be called something different but it is definitely not “hits.”

Hits don’t tell you a thing and people are often confused by this. They think if they are getting 207,000 hits per month, this is the number of people coming to their site. Wrong!

For instance, let’s say your HTML page has two images embedded, your logs (server) will count three hits if this page is requested – one hit for the HTML page itself and two hits for the two inline images. So the only way you would be able to tell visitors from this figure is if your logs tell you how many pages are called and the number of embedded objects in each for any given time period.

Most logs don’t do this because there are too many variables. Even my “sessions” category will not tell me the exact number of visitors to my site because my logs only record the unique hosts accessing the server during a given time-window.

The time-window is hardwired to the length of the current month. This means that if a host accesses my server very often, it gets counted only once during the whole month. Only the sum of the unique hosts per month is listed in the statistics report; therefore, I only get an estimated number of how many sessions are started on different sites to access my server.

But I do know sessions is the closest thing I’m going to get to actually coming up with a “visitor” figure so I use it to see how well my marketing is doing. I know if my sessions (visitor count) starts to decline, I’d better be looking at how a visitor accesses my site.

How a visitor accesses your site
Using the Referral URL list in my logs, I look to see how people come to my site. Some are reciprocal links but also listed are the search engines. These will show me what people input into the search box to find my site. I click on the link provided and it will bring up the page from the search engine.

This search engine page will tell me where I’m listed in their data base for the keyword. If it’s the same keyword I “targeted” my page for and I’m in the top 1-20 sites listed for that search engine, I know to leave my page alone.

But, if I’m not, I know I need to tweak some more on my pages and resubmit them. Of course, if I know it’s a search engine with a robot or spider which comes at regular intervals, I’ll wait as I don’t want them to think I’m “spamming” as the tweaks usually are minor changes.

Analyzing the links on this page will also give you more ideas for keywords. You’ll be surprised by what people input into a search box. The idea is to look at your logs as a way to constantly improve your site. Very few people do this and it’s one of the reasons their sites do not reach the top positions in search engines.

Judith Tramayne-Barth’s site is http://www.agoodread.com which has free books, articles and link pages you’ll love. She also writes excellent “how-to” books.

Analyzing Your Way To Success
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