Today, we’re going to look at data that is available from the most simple, and
often free, systems using information from your server logs. These include Webalizer
and AWStats. Most commercial web hosting packages include at least this basic level of
web log analysis. (See Figure 8.1 for an example.)
Basic website stats
Maybe you already have something like this available. If you’re not sure, talk to
your IT department and find out. Here is the information you’ll want to regularly see
from your server logs, at a minimum:
Knowing the total traffic to your website doesn’t tell you much. It
won’t tell you whether your visitors are the ones you targeted, what path they took
through your website, whether they made a purchase, or how happy they were during
their visit. Nevertheless, it’s one of those little numbers that you. just. need. to. know.
Your log analyzer will do its best to determine a total number of unique visitors based
on IP addresses and any other info it can gather. Admittedly, the number is not per-
fectly accurate. But it’s a good tool for tracking trends. After all, what does it really
matter if you had 1,015 or 1,045 unique visitors this week? What matters most is
whether you’re up or down from last week.
And while you’re at it, banish the word
from your vocabulary.
number of times a request is made to your server, and
describes the number
of times an entire page is called by a browser. So if there are dozens of images on a
given page, there will be dozens of hits recorded for each page view. Depending on
your conversion goal, you may want to focus on the number of page views or unique
visitors, but never hits.
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