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Tracking Traffic on Your Website

There are 3 basic ways of tracking traffic to your website.  First, you can view the statistics that most web hosting providers furnish at no charge to their customers.  Typically, this involves logging into the hosting control panel and clicking a link labeled something like "Traffic."  The resulting statistics are usually fairly informative...  showing you how many visitors you had during various time intervals, what those visitors typed in the search box that led them to you, which search engines delivered the most visitors to you, what browser and plugins they were using, where they navigated within your site, what pages captured their attention, where they were when they decided to leave your site, and more.  Of course, since every web hosting company is different, you’ll see some fairly diverse variations within the resulting reports.

The second way of viewing statistics is to implement a little third-party plugin that sends information about every website visitor to a third-party, who then collects and analyzes that information.  They, by turn, permit you to log into their website in order to view the detailed results.  Most third-party plugins are free, and quite useful.  By far, the most popular plugin is "Google Analytics," followed in the far distance by "Stat Counter." Because these companies devote enormous energy to the tracking and evaluation processes, their tools tend to be extremely robust.. much more so than their webhosting counterparts.

The third way of tracking traffic to your website is to have your web developer create and implement a custom tool on your own website.  Essentially, the web developer instructs your website to capture and store the raw headers that typically accompany each visitors’ clicks within your website, then dissect (parse) the various elements out of each string, and store them for later evaluation.

Keep in mind that traffic reports should be helping you absorb much more than raw numbers...  they should be helping you to understand how your website message is being received, and to recognize what is and is not working for you.  Just as a focus group helps your advertising department refine their message before presenting it to the world, a careful study of your website traffic can help you understand and improve the way in which your website is publicly received.


This material is Copyrighted. All rights reserved. Linda C. Uranga-Norton, President and Founder, Urangatang Web Design. To obtain reprint permission or engage the author for speaking engagements, please contact the author at . All reprints must include a link to the author's website at www.urangatang.com.

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