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Web development: tech side
by The AuctionMan Craig Meyer
A completed website that is listed in search engines, hosted on a reliable
server, and ready for action is a great thing. It holds nothing but promise and
potential for greatness.
I remember looking at the first version of auctiontrainer.com with pride.
Eventually, however, that pride turned to worry. Why? Because questions started
*Did we do something wrong that was turning customers away? *How many people
were viewing the site versus those buying something?
*What could we change to improve our sales?
I found out that these questions, and more, can be answered by analyzing the log
files kept by most web servers and hosts. You may or may not have access to
these files, depending upon your host's setup. You can usually access them
If you do not have access to your log files because of your current host's
restrictions or setup, then you have the alternative of setting up a "free"
tracking service. Be careful, though, as the statistics shown there can usually
be viewed by anyone and are not always as in-depth or accurate as they could be.
Plus they usually involve adding a new button or logo to your website to
advertise for the free service provider.
If you have access to your raw logs, you can use software which will analyze
these log files for you and give you a breakdown of statistics for the site.
These programs are not always cheap. Generally, you get what you pay for. I have
the advantage of having Aaron around to ask these sorts of questions to. He says
he's tried several "free" or very inexpensive ones and found them all to be
lacking in some way or another. Having done that, he has found the software that
does the job efficiently and very well. It's called "Open Web Scope" and can be
found by going to:
As a quick run-down of what can be seen in your Web logs and the power they will
give you, here are a few basic features of most web log analysis:
This is the number of visitors which have accessed the website each day, week,
and/or month (depending on your software). This tells you how many visitors have
accessed your site and does not include people who visited more than once during
the time period measured. This is an important number and, by itself, is enough
to set you on fire as you begin seeing how many visitors versus sales you're
making. Most logs measure unique visitors per day by default.
"Hits" & "Unique Hits"
This term should not be confused with "Unique Visitors" (above). "Hits" are a
measure of how often something has been accessed, regardless of who accessed it
when. So someone accessing your site several times a day will be counted each
time they access each file and page of your site (a page could include fifteen
or more images, all counted as hits!). Similarly, a "Unique Hits" measurement
records the same number, but only once per visitor per time period (see "Unique
Visitors" above). These numbers are nearly useless except as a basic measure of
your site's activity. If you are worried about page loading times, however, this
number for each page can tell you where you could possibly optimize to limit the
number of "hits" per page (the more hits, the longer it takes for the page to
"Referring Sites" or "Referral URLs"
This is a great piece of information. Some logs give the last ten while others
track all of them. The best ones give you the top ten followed by a complete
list. The top ten are, of course, of main interest because these are the sites
or IP addresses (if they cannot be resolved to a website address) that refer to
your site most often. Usually they will be search engines, affiliate sites, or
similar places. Most of these links refer directly to the web page the users
were sent from so you can visit them yourself. Additionally, this will give you
an idea of the keywords being used to access your site.
This is another great tool for site optimization. These errors are usually
nondescript and mean nothing to you – especially server-type errors such as
"Cached reload" or similar. However, if you notice a lot of "Page Not Found" or
"404" errors listed, you may need to double-check your site's links as something
may be wrong!
"Days of the Week"
This is another useful tidbit of information as it tells you when your site is
accessed most often. It usually includes the time of day as well. This also
tells you the best day for updates (the day before the most popular day,
obviously) and the best day to include incentives or promotions on your site.
These simple tools and bits of information are the basics of what you need to
analyze your website's statistics and really begin focusing your marketing
efforts towards realizing higher profits for you and a better user experience
for your site visitors.
Craig Meyer is the founder of The Online Auction Academy –
http://www.auctiontrainer.com – and
a successful, long-time entrepreneur. The OAA is a facility to teach no only
online sales through auction sites, but also a business success university for
those serious about making their dreams come true in a realistic, not
More articles for Web developers :
Search engines ranking,
How To Get More Visitors,
How you lose your visitors,
My steps to success,
Visitors by Ezines,
Make your site known
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