Understanding Your Website’s Traffic Statistics

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If you want to know how much traffic is coming to your site, which pages are bringing the most traffic, where are your visitors coming from, and when is traffic coming in, you just have to analyze your website’s statistics.

Nowadays, most web hosts utilize Webalizer, a powerful program that processes your raw traffic logs (long, text based files with information about your traffic), and generates meaninful reports presented in the form of easy to understand graphs and tables. Other hosts may use different traffic anaylis tools, but they all work and present the information in a similar fashion.

We’ll show you, step by step, how your web site statistics can answer almost any question you may have about your traffic:

How much traffic is coming to my site?

The two most important parameters are:

a) Number of Visitors
b) Number of Page Views

The Number of Visitors shows you how many users come to your site and request a page. The visitor can move around your site visiting several pages, however he will still be counted as only one visitor. An exception to this rule occurs in the rare occasion when a visitor takes more than half an hour (or the amount of time set by your host) to click from one page to another, in which case the program will register two visitors.

The Page Views parameter indicates how many pages have been requested. It is a very important number because it is indicative of the “stickiness” of your site. Stickiness is a good thing: if, for example, your statistics show 10 visitors, but 50 page views, it means that, on average, each visitor has viewed 5 pages. A large “page views per visitor” ratio usually means that your site is so interesting and valuable that users are inclined to “stick around” and explore.

Other somehow important parameter, especially if you have bandwidth restrictions, is the Kilobytes Transmitted. Sites with a lot of pictures, or sites that allow downloads (reports, ebooks, audio files or video) will incur in significant bandwidth usage. If you operate a plain HTML site but still show an abnormally high bandwidth usage, you may need to optimize your images to make them less heavy.

Finally, a less important measure (although it was heavily hyped in the early days of the web) is the number of Hits. Hits represent the number of files sent to a user after a page request. If a page has 30 pictures, one sigle visit will trigger 31 hits: thirty for the pictures and one for the page itself.

Through where on my site is traffic coming in?

You may be interested in knowing which pages of your site are bringing in the most traffic, since not every visitor will come through your home page.

Your traffic statistics will show you a list of the most popular entry pages to your site, ranked by number of requests. Sometimes, internal pages can bring in more traffic than the homepage itself. This may happen when a particular internal page is very well optimized and regularly shows up at the top of the search engine results pages (SERPs), or when it offers such good content that other sites link directly to it.

You will also find a list of the most common exit pages (the last page your users visited prior to leaving your site).

How is traffic coming in?

Your traffic statistics will show you a list of referrers. Referrers are those URLs that lead a user to your site. Referrers are ranked by the number of hits they produce. That is why the vast majority of referrers will be URLs from your own site (since HTML pages usually contain embedded links to other objects such as graphics files, they generate a large number of hits). However, if you filter out your own pages, you will see what external URLs are bringing in visitors to your pages.

External referrers generally fall into two categories:

  • pages that have posted a link to your site, and
  • search engine referred traffic.
  • You will also find an entry in your referrer list named “Direct Request”; it shows you the number of times somebody accessed your pages by either directly typing your URL in the address bar, by using a bookmark or by following a link on an email message.

    Analyzing your traffic statistics will also tell you what keywords are your visitors using to find your pages through search engines. This is extremely important since it will tell you if your selected keywords are working or not. It may also bring to your attention keywords that you may have not thought about. You may then use those keywords to further optimize your pages and bring in even more traffic.

    When is traffic coming in?

    You can also find out when are visitors coming to your site. You will find statistics by month, by day and even by hour. This can be useful in a variety of circumstances. For example, if you publish new content, you may want to release it during the moments of more traffic. Your statistics will help you by identifying the days or hours when more people are likely to visit your site.

    Finally, you will also have access to other interesting data, like the IP addresses of your visitors, the browsers they are using, and even the countries they are coming from.

    Altogether, the information you gather from your website’s traffic statistics will provide you with a wealth of valuable insights, so that you can continuously fine tune your internet marketing strategy to bring more traffic to your site.

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    Mario Sanchez publishes The Internet Digest ( http://www.theinternetdigest.net ), an internet marketing content site packed with useful articles and resources, and SEO Tutorial (http://www.seotutorial.info) where you can learn the basics of search engine optimization in four easy steps.

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