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Posted on October 1, 1999


  ===================================================
  The Add Me! Newsletter            *** ISSUE #65 ***
  "Free tips for promoting your website and business"
  
  Add Me, Inc                    http://www.addme.com
  
  The newsletter is only sent to the users of Add Me!
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                ...TODAY'S ARTICLE...

 
             >>  Tracking your Stats  <<
 

  ........................................................
  October 1st, 1999                      *** ISSUE #65 ***
  ........................................................






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             .....TODAY'S ARTICLE.....




                Tracking your Stats
               =====================

  by Steve White

  You have created the most spectacular web site on the 
  Internet that downloads in less than 2.3 seconds on a 
  9600 baud modem (yes there are probably still a few of 
  them out there). You have set up your Meta Tags and 
  registered all your web pages with over 2000 search 
  engines and indexes. You must now have the most popular 
  site on the Internet!

  How popular is your site? How do you know how many 
  people are visiting it and just who are your visitors? 
  How effective are your marketing efforts? Which ads 
  are working and which are expensive flops? Has someone 
  added a link to your site that generates almost half 
  your visitors? Why does it work so well for you and 
  what would happen if they removed the link?

  Promoting your site means marketing and half of 
  marketing is knowledge of who, what, where and why. 
  The most basic requirement when promoting your web 
  site is access to a good Web Site visitor analysis 
  program. Without one you are whistling in the dark. 
  There would simply be no way to know how well your 
  site and your site promotion efforts are doing.

  Just about everyone has access to site analysis 
  software. If you are running a commercial site on a 
  Windows NT or Unix host or have your own server, you 
  may find that your system already includes access to 
  a site analysis program. The two most popular that I 
  am aware of are Web Trends and Analogue. The former 
  is a commercial product that includes excellent Visual 
  Feedback. The latter is a freeware program with access 
  to most of the same information although you may have 
  to do a little of your own analysis to understand the 
  data.


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  If you are using a free site, a site hosted by your 
  access provider or a commercial site that does not 
  include a daily log file (why not?) then you can use 
  one of several excellent free site statistic programs. 
  One that I am familiar with is Site Meter available at 
  http://www.sitemeter.com/ . There are more. These free 
  analyzers work by including code (usually Javascript) 
  on your web page and sending hit statistics to a data 
  base that you can view at any time. They do not provide 
  the detail of a commercial program like Web Trends and 
  are not completely private but they are much better 
  than no feedback at all.

  The information you can gather with your analysis program 
  is extensive and can be invaluable in your promotion 
  effort. It will list the number of Hits, User Sessions, 
  Page Views, Referring Sites, Referring URL's, Most 
  Accessed Page, Least Accessed Page, Top Referring Search 
  Engine, Search Keywords, Search Phrases and much more. 
  With a little knowledge you can add codes to your links 
  to get even more feedback about your promotion efforts.

  So just what do these stats tell you?

  The information can be quite extensive. Probably the 
  most overused and least useful information is the number 
  of Hits. A Hit is actually a request for a file. If you 
  have a web page that includes 4 pictures your log will 
  report 5 hits when a visitor views the page. If the user 
  selects the Refresh button, you will suddenly have 10 
  hits. Another site with no pictures will report only 1 
  hit as a user visits. Reporting hits of 10 to 1 is 
  consequently quite uninformative.

  If you advertise on your site, most advertisers (as 
  should you) will want to know how many people visit 
  your site. Where do they enter and leave? Where do 
  they go? What do they look at? How long do they stay? 
  Where did they come from? Who referred them? And as 
  much additional information about your visitors and 
  advertising campaigns as possible. 

  Think of your site as a department store and think 
  about what your visitors are doing. Knowing this will 
  help you design your store and advertising to accommodate 
  them and hopefully improve your sales  or visitor 
  satisfaction depending upon your purpose. Understanding 
  your stats will tell you all this and more.


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  If you think of your site as a department store, User 
  Sessions will tell you how many people actually 
  visited the store. Page Views will tell you how many 
  web pages (or departments) where visited. By dividing 
  the number of User Session with the number of Page 
  Views (which most good stats programs will do for 
  you), you will know how many pages or departments a 
  visitor went to before leaving. If most visitors 
  leave after viewing one page you will know that your 
  site does not have much holding power. This may be 
  fine but it may also be an indication that your pages 
  are not very appealing to your visitors.

  Which is the main entry page to your site? You may 
  think that it is your home page but maybe it is not. 
  It may not be uncommon for people to enter your site 
  through a backdoor page. This could be because it is 
  better listed in a search engine or because another 
  site has a link to it. A department store may have a 
  Grand Entrance on Main Street but get most of its 
  visitors from the subway station connected to the 
  basement. In either case this may be the best place 
  to post a list of your daily specials. Which is the 
  most common exit page? Is it a good place to post a 
  reminder to come again or mention a page with some 
  exciting experience that they may have missed? Most 
  stats programs will tell you both with the Entry Page 
  and Exit Page lists.

  The Least Requested Page "stat" may tell you which 
  page is least appealing to your visitors. It may also 
  tell you that your navigation method is too complex 
  for people to find it. If it is your Purchase Page 
  you definitely want to know. Maybe you just forgot 
  to add the link or you orphaned the link when you 
  deleted or changed another page.

  Most stats will tell you the URL of your visitor. 
  What? You thought you were completely anonymous? 
  Maybe somewhat but not completely. You can find out 
  the country, city, URL and referral for your visitors. 
  This last is especially useful since it will identify 
  the source of many of your visitors. If it is another 
  site with a link, you should show your appreciation. 
  You may also wish to find other similar sites to see 
  if you can get a referral from them as well. Did you 
  just pay $1000 for a Banner Add that referred two 
  visitors in the last month. Maybe you have two Adds 
  on two similar sites but one performs significantly 
  better than the other. Why is one working and not 
  the other?

  Here are a few Commercial and Free Analysis Programs 
  that I am aware of. Check with your Hosting Company. 
  They may already provide free access to one.

  FastStats        $99.00
  http://www.mach5.com/
  WebTrends        $399.00
  http://www.webtrends.com/
  WebSuccess       $288.00
  http://www.websuccess.de/english/whats_new.html/
  FlashStats       $99.00
  http://www.maximized.com/products/flashstats/
  Analog           freeware
  http://www.statslab.cam.ac.uk/~sret1/analog/

  Site Counters and Analysis

  Site Meter       free
  http://www.sitemeter.com/
  Hitometer        $4.99 month
  http://websitegarage.netscape.com/

  (Note from the publisher: the prices above are here 
  as a reference only, actual prices might differ. Also
  the author of this article has no affiliation with any 
  of the referenced companies)

  -------------------------------------------------------------
  Steve G. White is the lead software designer at Virtual 
  Mechanics which develops HTML and Dynamic HTML applications. 
  Steve also publishes IMS Web Tips, a weekly newsletter of 
  tips and tricks on web site design and promotion. 
  Newsletter:  http://www.IMSWebTips.htm
  Home Page: http://www.VirtualMechanics.com
  -------------------------------------------------------------




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