Track website visitors

 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

About the Author

AppliedI Blog

Specializing in the latest cloud hosting services on top of the Microsoft Windows Server Platform.


  1. Great article and video. We use it specifically to see which keywords people looked for to find us, and re-use them into our search engine marketing. I would recommend it to all other AppliedI customer who needs to drill into their site use. SmarterStats is a very good tool for most people.

    • Stephan,

      Thanks for the great comment. I would like to add YES!!! This is a great way to use your stats!!!! This not nly answers the "how are my visitors getting to my site?" but "what can I do better to serve those search terms in terms of content quality?"



    • Steve,

      Thanks for the feedback!
      Click Tail is an awesome application that we also use internally here at Applied Innovations, it actually goes a bit beyond regular analytics since you can view not only heatmaps but recordings of actual people on your site. We recently made some changes to our shopping cart and Click Tail helped tremendosly!
      The only downside is the price althought if you can afford it it's well worth it! I would also add that Crazy Egg ( offers similar functionality as ClickTail for a lesser start up price.


  2. William, I don’t think there’s limitations to SmarterStats or Google Analytics. I think they are two different ways to deliver the same results. Each solution will have it’s own settings for what defines a user session and such. One may give a different number of visitors but generally they’ll give similar results.

    SmarterStats has an advantage over Google Analytics in that it processes your web server log files and doesn’t have to be loaded into every page. This way the work it does won’t have an impact on your page load and can’t be blocked or tampered with since it’s not a client side application.

    Google Analytics has an advantage over SmarterStats that it’s client side and can pull information about the browsers that wouldn’t be available in the standard log files SmarterStats uses.

    For my personal sites, I use them both actually! Google Analytics updates on their own schedule and SmarterStats is constantly updating so I like to use SmarterStats to get immediate results. I like to get scheduled email reports from SmarterStats as well. I think Google Analytics does a better job with the search engine results some times and some of the site referrer stats but I trust SmarterStats more because I know I don’t have to worry about loading the collector code into every single page and if I miss loading it into a page I miss all those stats.


  3. While undoubtedly both solutions (SmarterStats and Google Analytics) have their pros/cons, I’ve found that the majority of my clients feel that SmarterTools’ product is oftentimes confusing to navigate and lacks clear, concise embedded documentation as to explain the results collected.

    I’ve personally worked extensively with both products and prefer Google over SmarterTools. One big reason: SmarterStats has, on multiple occasions, been subject to file-level corruption which resulted in IRREPARABLE LOSS of historical data, since at that point the logs were removed due to age.

    Moreover, Google Analytics is well-presented and offers clear navigation and on-screen explanations of the presented data.

    Also, Google Analytics provides the ability to add “view only” users (other Google accounts) thereby allowing me to manage my customer’s account using my (a separate) Google account.

    Regardless, people using Google Analytics should ensure that Urchin scripts were first removed, as this creates known compatibility issues.

  4. Google Analytics is a great tool however it’s time consuming to check my websites traffic one by one. I have 450 websites and I track them all using

    I can sort and organize domains into folders and you can drill down to individual domains and view analytics for each domain. Its a great multi tracking tool.

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