Among the best ways to get the very most out of your web marketing is to analyze the traffic that you already have on your website. You need to develop an understanding of who is visiting your website, what they want from your website, and what theyíre doing once theyíre there. Unless you have this information, it is challenging to improve it in a way that will better meet the expectations of your visitors.
In order to analyze your website traffic, you can choose one or many of the following four techniques:
- A webpage counter
- A statistical package from your ISP
- Web traffic analysis software
- Hire a professional to audit your website traffic
Counters are one of the oldest tools that have been added to websites. They can be visible to your website visitors, or invisible to them so that only you can see. A web counter is a very basic addition to your website that simply registers the number of people who visit any given page on your site. Of course, showing this isnít exactly the most professional way to run a website. Sure, theyíre alright for personal pages, but for a business that is trying to develop a good reputation and make a good impression, this probably isnít really the way to go.
With the statistical package from your ISP (Internet Service Provider), youíll be able to have a look at a log of every visit your website has received. This will be available to you in the form of either a webpage or a graphic for your analysis. The information is often registered in raw NCSA combined log file format, which is rather challenging to use for the average user. It is full of complicated coding that must be deciphered for each individual ìhitî that your webpage has received. If you know what youíre doing, however, this method does indeed provide you with a good amount of information, such as the way that people are getting to your website (for example, by way of a search engine or a link from another site) and what they are doing at your site once they have arrived. If you are using a good quality ISP, then you will likely have a freeware version of a popular statistical analysis package available to you. There are many good ones from which you can choose, and youíll find the results very useful. You can have your ISP produce a daily, weekly, monthly (etc) report for you to use. They can either be posted on a webpage for you, or emailed directly into your inbox. Youíll needs to contact your ISP to find out exactly what services they offer in this regard.
If that doesnít work for you, if you want a better-detailed report, or if your ISP simply doesnít provide that service, then you may wish to purchase a web traffic analysis software program. There are tons of these programs available at affordable prices that will provide you with a broad range of analysis options for the traffic you receive on your website. To use these programs, you simply need to download access logs from your ISP using an FTP program. Youíll needs to ask your ISP about the directory in which those logs can be found. The software will then parse (interpret) the raw log file information one line at a time to provide you with results in various combinations and formats for your use. Though the more high-end programs can cost over $5 thousand, there are many software packages that are available to us ìnormal folkî with varying degrees of options and abilities, but at much more affordable prices. You can easily obtain a good quality software package at around $300.
So why do you need these stats so badly for your web marketing? The fact of the matter is that they give you a goal for your marketing. They show you:
- Which web pages on your site are most popular
- Which pages on your site are least popular
- Who is visiting your website
- Which browsers they are using to view your website
- Which search engines are sending the most visitors ª Which banner ads are sending you the most visitors
- Where errors and bad links may exist on your website.