Web Traffic Analytics – Part 1
In today’s Tools of the Trade Tuesday, I’m starting a 2-part series on analyzing website traffic data. What’s more, it’s not about Google analytics! And it’s available to you if you host your own WordPress site or blog.
Analyzing website traffic data is crucial for the success of your online business. Looking over your results can be done for a number of reasons. But before doing any analysis, you should know what the available data means. And then how make effective changes based upon that data to boost your website’s performance.
Most website owners are not aware of this, but every web hosting company supplies you with extensive web related data and traffic information at your fingertips.
These analytic tools included with most hosting packages are AWStats and Webalizer (found in cPanel)
This available data provided by either analytics tool needs to be interpreted by you and can be used to help you develop the best performance for your website.
While this data is so broad that it can become a overwhelming task even to understand each part, you can still collectively use the data for the success of your website and for your online business. I will cover the “how to” basics of this information.
Basic Important Website Data
To start with, the most primary data that web statistics gives you is the number of visitors that come to your website. This can be viewed on a day-to-day basis, or a weekly or monthly basis. This specific data about your site’s visitors lets you know about your website’s activity – whether or not your website is attracting a lot of visitors.
But even when you see a lot of inbound traffic, it can still be deceiving fact! Why? Because many search engine crawlers (or bots) also visit your website on a regular basis that is included with the data.
There can also be some ‘hits’ recorded to your website that are for a very short span. Those ‘hits’ can also be inaccurately over-numbered, because if your web page has, for example, 20 graphics, then each page load would mean an extra 20 ‘hits’.
Because of it, the ‘hits’ will not give you the exact number of visitors because of these factors, including the number of graphics included on the web page.
To really find out how your website and its pages are performing, you must know how to accurately interpret the traffic data given.
To understand the complete analysis of: number of unique visitors, number of visits, pages viewed, and the hits require knowing how to correctly interpret them together.
This information will give you the correct insight of how your website is performing on a daily or monthly basis. This data also gives you the information to know whether your website is growing or declining in popularity.
What does hits, pages, and bandwidth mean?
Hits: a ‘hit’ allows you to see how many times one of your web page was requested on the Internet. If the “Hits” data show 1,000 hits, it means that there were 1,000 times a page was requested.
Pages: Pages are the number of web pages that make up your website. This includes everything from Home page to the About Page.
Bandwidth: This is the measure of the amount of data transfer that your website has undergone over a period of a month. In short, bandwidth describes the amount of traffic and data allowed to travel and transfer between your site, users, and the Internet in number format.
If you’re using cPanel, then in the Web / FTP Section, you will see the statistics menu that gives you access to the various web related statistics about your website. The following are the most common tools you can be use for your analysis of your web statistics:
AWStats is a free, open source, powerful analytical website tool that produces reliable statistics.
AWStats produces advanced web statistics, streaming statistics, FTP or mail server statistics in the form of bars on a graph (i.e. graphically).
This log analyzer gives you all possible information by analyzing a number of log files from server tools like WebStar, Apache log files, IIS (W3C log format), and several other web, proxy, streaming servers, WAP, mail servers, and a few FTP servers.
Even after doing a number of complex analysis, the results given by AWStats are very fast and easy to see.
AWStats can show you the following:
- The number of visits received including the number of unique visitors.
- The time duration of each visit and the last visit.
- The number of authenticated users, and their last authenticated visits.
- The days and the ‘rush hours’ (pages, hits, Kilobytes for each hour and day of the week).
- Domains and countries of visitors.
- Unresolved IP addresses.
- File types visited.
- Most viewed pages, the entry and the exit pages.
- The operating system used by the visitors and the browsers used to view the web pages.
- The detection of the visits by the robots.
- The search engines, the key-phrases, and keywords that were used to find your website and its pages.
- HTTP errors detected, including 404 pages
- And so on.
The above list gives you an idea of just how extensive and powerful AWStats can be. With such a powerful analytical tool at your disposal and the data that is freely available through it.
You can easily perform a number of on-page, off-page, and SEO-related experiments to make your website very successful online.
Webalizer is an extremely fast and free web server analytical tool. It can produce very detailed reports in HTML format.
Webalizer is a complex website statistical tool. It produces a number of web traffic related statistics with charts and graphs.
Webalizer also produces much of the same information that AWStats does.
I just scratched the surface as to what these website analytical tools can do. The advantage of either tool over Google analytics is that the information given is in real time, not delayed like Google.
Also there is less room for error since each tool is directly part of your site on the server side. Everything that is done on or with your website or blog is recorded and known.
From this information, you can determine the best way to make improvements or changes to your website.
Be sure to stay tuned for Analyzing Website Traffic Data– Part 2 for next Tuesday’s Tools of the Trade article post where we delve deeper into the ways you can utilize the information given to improve or make needed changes to your site.
As always, I ask that you leave any questions, observations, or comments about today’s topic that you would like to share! Thanks 🙂