Optimize My Website

How to Optimize My Website

Web Analytics – Website Traffic Statistics

Site traffic statistics are an important part of any SEO program as they provide proof of visitor traffic. Most hosting companies provide a free stats option or include any stats fees in the hosting package. If you are not sure how to view your site’s stats then please make the effort to contact your hosting provider and inquire as to your options.

There are a few things to keep in mind when viewing your stats, and a few options to consider when choosing a stats program and/or whether to upgrade your current program.

Any stats program is going to display the number of visitors, hits and bandwidth that a site sees. What is interesting is that not every stats program defines a visitor in the same manor. For instance, is an automated non human computer inquiry from one of Google’s spiders considered a visitor? I personally only consider living breathing humans as visitors, but not all stats programs agree with me. Here is an example of what I am talking about. For the month of November 2007, this website saw a record number of visitors. But I am not exactly sure what that number is. I used 3 stats programs on this website:
awStats – this program works with this site’s server logs and provides what I believe are the most accurate of numbers
joomlaStats – this site used Joomla to build its pages dynamically and these stats should be as good as awStats, but as you can see below, they are not
Google Analytics – any page visited on the site triggers a javascript which forwards information to Google

In my opinion, each of these three programs should display the same visitor information as all three know the difference between human visitors and automated program visitors such as Google’s spiders. But, I was wrong. Look at these numbers for the month of November 2007:
awStats – 1780 human visitors
joomlaStats – 907 human visitors
Google Analytics – 423 human visitors

Yeah, I was surprised too. Now I understand that it is difficult determining unique visitors from return visitors, so I forgive these numbers:
awStats – 833 unique visitors
joomlaStats – 684
Google Analytics – 358

Quite a difference.

Each of these programs offers different strengths and different levels of accuracy. My recommendation is to pick a stats tool and stick with it. These three programs all show very similar gains and losses when viewing monthly totals over the course of a year so each is accurate in tracking trends even though the number itself varies greatly between them. The strengths though are worth considering. Here is a basic break down:
awStats – compiles every morning and gives the most data, tracking the most amount of raw options.
joomlaStats – real time tracking allowing you to see when someone is currently looking at your site and at which page, even showing the order of pages viewed.
Google Analytics – works with Google’s Pay Per Click ads data incorporating the PPC stats with the visitors. not real time but close; often about 30 minutes delayed from real time. This program also displays a nice overly so you can visually see where people click on your site pages, and it is getting better all of the time. The one thing that I wish that it provided is a bot visitor count.

Whatever program you choose to use do so understanding that program’s strengths. If you ever decide to change programs allow the two programs to run together for a few months and analyze the differences in their numbers. It would not be fare to quote traffic numbers using one program for a month against traffic numbers with a different program for a following month.

I never like to encourage products, but this one is too fun not to mention; VisitorVille. Your site pages are viewed as buildings with people walking around your site/town. Pages viewed most often are represented by larger buildings. If a visitor approaches after finding your site from a search engine they arrive in a bus with the name of the search engine painted on the side of the bus. It also integrates PPC options and tracks visitors purchasing your products and even returning for later visits. You even have the option of live chatting with any particular visitor all in real time. Analytics meets SimCity; very fun and very useful… but at a monthly price.

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