Website Statistics Tracking: How It Works.
Traffic, Visitors, Referrers
Current and accurate website visitor tracking is crucial for any online business. Number of visitors, pages attracted greatest attention, information about who has drawn the visitors to the website and how many of them have become customers. Having all that in mind, we are always up to date about our website and can develop it in the right direction.
Mainly two types of software are used for obtaining web statistics: online analytic systems for gathering and analyzing online statistics and web server log file analyzer applications.
The online statistic systems are convenient in operation; however, installing those often requires modifications in the website's source code (adding java-script code to each page of the website to enable reading the visits). Since some users (usually corporate) have running java-script disabled in the browser, the online systems can allow inaccuracies (up to 30% results can be lost). Also, such systems can track only the users that access the website pages (css, graphics, binary files is not included in the stats). And the worst flaw common to such solutions is making a breaching the privacy of the data. All visitor statistics for your website is stored on the servers that belong to the companies that supply such systems.
The functioning of log file analyzers is built upon different principles. Log analyzer is a program for extracting statistic data from web server log files; it is installed on the webmaster's or PR manager's computer. One of the drawbacks of such approach is the need to gain the full access to the current version of the log file in order to get the up to date statistics. However, greater accuracy in computing the statistics and fine-tuning the reports make this type of statistics computing software more preferable.
Whichever principle a website statistics system is built upon, the results it produces would be reports. Some programs are capable of generating hundreds of reports per each websites; others offer custom reports where user specifies manually which parameters he needs to monitor. However, any statistics software can generate the most important types of reports, which are going to be listed further.
A rough estimate of a website's traffic can be obtained from the Uniques/Day (unique visitors per day) parameter. It shows how many visitors visit the website daily. Another important parameter - Hits/Day - shows how many pages of the website have been visited during the day. If the analysis system you are using allows filtering out the visits generated by the bots and spiders from those of the real users, the traffic report for the resource would be more accurate.
For optimizing the website's usability, you can take advantage of the Paths Through and Visit Depth reports. Use them to find out which of the website's pages are interesting and convenient to user and which ones are not so much.
For evaluating the success of your PR department, you can take advantage of the Referrers report, which shows what resources refer the visitors to the website, along with the number of such visitors. It is also interesting to track changes in such click-through stats.
Since search engines are today's relatively important source of visitors, it is important to have the website optimized for them. For evaluating the efficiency of the optimization procedures you have carried out, you can take advantage of the Search Engines and Search Phrases reports. Note: While optimizing your website, please remember that the website is meant for people, not for search engines - try to compose texts that would be interesting to people first of all. How interesting are the pages to your visitors? Find that out with the Bounce Rate report.
The geography (Countries) and visitor details (Operating Systems, Browsers) reports give additional information on the audience composition and their preferences. This statistics would allow your PR department to know your customer with certainty and focus on his needs and demands.
The webmaster would promptly respond to the website's problems with the Error Report. It is very important for an online business to have the website free of errors or eliminate those errors promptly. A properly configured resource demonstrates the company's serious attitude, while ending up at the 404 page all of the sudden would doubtfully please your customers.