Tracking visitors is not only vital for your website but also for your business. This article explains what analytics are all about and how you can leverage this powerful feature to enhance your site experience for all users.
Web analytics is the measurement, collection, analysis and reporting of internet data for purposes of understanding and optimizing web usage. When a user comes to your site they bring a ton of information along with them such as geolocation, browser type, referring website, and best of all what search engine and search term they used to get to you. All of this information is collected by our advanced analytics tool named SmarterStats. This application is also responsible for collecting data like time spent on the site, entry pages, exit pages, visitor history and lots more. This data can then be interpreted by a web or marketing professional to allow this person to make clever changes to your site based on the hard data.
For example, a marketing or sales professional looking to sell advertising space on your site would show a potential buyer the amount of unique visits to the site and even the unique visits to specific pages. You could even vary the advertising price depending on the days of the week or time of the day, based upon the unique visit stats.
Additionally, webmasters can get reports on what pages within the site are causing problems such as those troublesome broken links.
The following video offers an overview of the application and demonstrates how you may enable advanced analytics for your site using our control panel:
To help you understand this better we’ve put together a list of commonly used terms used in web analytics.
Hits – A hit represents a request to your web site for a file such as an image, a web page, or a CGI script. One web page may contain several related resources, and as a result, a visitor viewing one web page may trigger several hits. Hits generated as a result of an error (either a 400 or 500 level error) are not counted as actual hits to your site, and are kept separate from successful hits.
Visits – Visits represent the total number of times people have visited your web site. A visit is counted whenever a web site user requests one or more files from the web server. If the user becomes idle for more than a certain amount of time (usually 20 minutes), a new visit is generated when they come back.
Unique Visitors – A unique visitor represents any number of visits from the same computer. If a person returns to the site again, a visit is counted, but a unique visit is not.
Visit Length – The number of seconds that a visit lasts. On reports dealing with visit length, the average visit length is calculated and shown for all visits. Visits length assumes that the visitor stays several seconds after their last hit.
Referrer URL – The Referrer URL represents the exact web page from which visitors to your site came from. A value of “No Referrer” represents a visitor typing your web site directly into the browser, using a bookmark, or following a link from an email client.
Referrer Host – The Referrer Host represents the web site from which visitors to your site came from. A value of “No Referrer” represents a visitor typing your web site directly into the browser, using a bookmark, or following a link from an email client.
Platform – Platform represents the operating system that the web site visitor is using. Some typical platforms are Windows 2003 Server, Windows XP, and Mac OSX.
How does this all work you ask? It’s all very simply really. All data from the end user is collected by the web server in long and boring-looking log files like the one below.
All of this data is then parsed by the SmarterStats application in order to give the site owner a comprehensible format.
In conclusion, if you are not looking at your web metrics take action and start now. This feature is free on shared hosting plans. For those of you that use virtual or dedicated environments we have some great ways for you to get this functionality at little or even no cost. For more details contact firstname.lastname@example.org.