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Tracking website traffic

See what pages people look at and how often they buy

How many visitors land on your website and which pages are the most popular? Where do they come from and on which days do they visit the most? If you have a website, measuring its performance and subsequently making improvements is the best way to increase the return you get from it.

Your website conversion rates are the measures of how many visitors you're converting into customers. The best way to improve it is to know what your conversion rates are in the first place. They can only be calculated by tracking your website traffic.

Quote�The tracking of site traffic is an essential tool.�End Quote
Alex Masip, LingoNotion

LingoNotion's Alex Masip says, “The tracking of site traffic is an essential tool for any webmaster, as it’s the only way to really know what's working on a site, what campaigns are being profitable, which areas are losing money, and which are attracting new clients or losing existing ones.

“Businesses of all sizes should therefore consider website tracking to be an essential tool in evaluating online marketing efforts and reshaping strategies where necessary.”

Where to start?

Your hosting company should provide free log files which reveal which websites referred traffic to your site and how many hits the website received. However, in their raw form, log files can be unmanageable and even misleading. Figuring out actual visitor numbers can be problematic.

Fortunately, website tracking software will check your logs, make sense of them and serve the information up in easily digestible form. From free to high-cost options, there are many packages available.

Alex Masip“Nowadays there are thousands of web analytic software packages, including higher priced complex programs with real time stats and integrated pay per click management. But unless you have a very big site with enormous amounts of traffic there is no need to buy one of these packages. I would advise small businesses to have a look at the low end of the market.” says Alex.

The solution you choose depends on how user-friendly and sophisticated you want your data to be. Freebies include Analog and AWStats. More complex tools will display charts so you can spot trends.

You might want to find out how many site referrals came from banners or which keywords were used the most on search engines that led visitors to your site. Wusage can do all of this cheaply. Alternatively, Livestats and Opentracker include clickstream (to tell you which pages visitors look at in what order) and search term analysis.

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Prices start to rise as you look at more sophisticated options like WebTrends, Sane Solutions' NetTracker and Urchin. These can analyse shopping cart revenue and promotions for shopping sites.

With so many options available you need to choose the right software to suit your needs. You may need to try a few solutions before settling on the right one.

Mark Hayhurst“I was getting increasingly frustrated and confused with interpreting stats and logs for my business,” says Mark Hayhurst of SouthAfricanArtists.com who had found other software gave him ambiguous and inflated numbers.

“A couple of days with Opentracker got us exactly to the who, what and when of our actual usage. While the figures we now see are significantly lower than what we had been getting with AWstats, Webalizer and Livestats - we now see proper clickstream analysis, know whether people are buyers or artists, know if they are repeat visitors and can use this with our own visitor tracking and live support options to drive more sales.”

“We use Urchin which is supplied by our web development team as an added value service,” says Sally Harrison of childcare portal BestBear.co.uk. “Primarily the package helps us define which inbound links are generating the most traffic and which pages are the most popular. We can then fine tune our marketing efforts and web content accordingly to suit our visitors’ usage and needs.”

What next?

Get more vistors to your website by optimising it for search engines.

Find out how to test your site for user-friendliness.

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