Posted on February 13, 2009
Not all web traffic stats packages are equal. In fact, your favorite web stats package likely does not provide you with all the important pieces of metric information. Using only one or two methods to track and understand how your website is being used is like a doctor who only runs one or two tests on a patient. You may be missing out on critical data and you don't even know it!
The first and most common divide is log analyzers versus web trackers. There are endless internet debates about which one is "better", but the fact of the matter remains that in order to best understand how your site is used you must have both implemented and used properly.
A web log analyzer is important to diagnose search engine crawling and indexing problems, as well as thwart scrapers and find broken links/missing file problems. The web log analyzer excels at gathering server centric and raw data which most other systems cannot.
On the other hand the tracker has become so advanced, that there is rarely a better way to understand and discover the traffic of real people visiting your site and the fine details of how they interact with your site structure. Many trackers are even advanced enough to give you good insights as to the quality of your referring traffic and helping you to find and isolate the value in your promotions.
Even if you do have a tracker and web log analyzer installed – are you using them properly and to the fullest? Do you have important reports setup to view on a regular basis and compare historical trends?
Within the sub set of web trackers there are many important distinctions in how the data is presented and processed:
1. Realtime (instant) or processed on a slow schedule?
2. Granularity – do you get detailed information on specific stats?
3. Trending – can you compare different time periods and see trends in your granular stats over time?
4. Per-Visitor Detail – this is an important one especially if you are running wide reaching advertising campaigns on various large networks – seeing a direct sample of how your paid traffic is interacting with your site in the form of a visitor detail path, is critical to seeing how effective your ad is. (Combining this with realtime stats is a a sure way to save a lot of money on big ad campaigns which may not be properly configured)
5. Data Alerts – combined with real-time reporting, data alerts can tell you if there is an instant problem with one of your metrics. Knowing immediately about a metric problem (such as a broken landing page, or a order flow error) is a very fast way to respond to solid site problems and rescue significant value.
Most trackers do not contain all of that information, so it's always a great idea to have multiple trackers which can provide you with the full spectrum of critical information for you site.
If you are missing any of those details, GoStats free or GoStats Pro can certainly give you an increased insight into most of your critical metrics. Many people make significant promotion savings and increases in site value with additional information provided by GoStats in realtime.
Remember: That which isn't tracked, isn't likely to grow.
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