Web Traffic Analytics, Redundancy, Analytics,
So, you've got a web site, right?
Of course you do! You're reading this article. All day long it sits on a server,
sending what you told it to people you'll never meet. Who are they? Where are
they come from? How do they get there? What do they do while they're there? When
are they doing it? Where do they go? In the paragraphs that follow, I'll help
you find more than you ever wanted to know about your web site between the
various tools on the market.
The Webalizer is by far the most common statistics software found in Linux web
hosting environments, so we'll start here to lay down the most common features.
Webalizer shows its users the total number of hits, files, pageviews, unique
visitors, and unique locations in monthly, daily, and hourly graphs and tables.
Webalizer then keeps running monthly
totals for error codes, URL's accessed, entry pages, exit pages, unique sites,
referrers, web browsers, and search strings used to reach the web site - also
providing a "top 10" to "top 30" representation of each angle in a text format.
Finally, Webalizer peaks your international awareness by display of a table and
pie chart of your visitor's nation of origin; although this tool is not always
completely reliable as the nation of origin is frequently unresolved.
Advanced Web Statistics (a.k.a. AW Stats)
AW Stats is another fairly popular host-based tool; although a bit less common
due to the heavy system resources required by the web server to generate its far
more elaborate statistics. Stats generated by AW Stats are far more colorful,
graphical, and easier to follow; with common browsers, search engines, and
spiders names translated to plain language.
AW Stats adds functionality where Webalizer leaves off by providing the duration
visitors spend on each page, summation of the types of files sent out, and fully
expandable lists of all values instead of 'top 10s'. In my own experience, when
run alongside Webalizer, AW Stats has a tendency to recognize significantly more
Analog 6.0 Statistics
Analog is another host-based option with a very pure "hands on" look and feel,
and a simple layout delivering a lot of raw data. Although it produces less
interpreted and really less overall information than AWStats, it provides a very
useful array of visual aids through pie charts for all the important numbers,
unseen in other tools, and a very nice angle to have on your site.
Google Analytics (formerly Urchin)
When I sat down to write this article, I'd placed a lot of intent on reviewing
Urchin in my comparisons (a comparable tool to AW Stats that's remotely hosted
down information, I was devastated to find that Google has stopped making Urchin
available outside of exclusive invites, and apparently intends to release
something for free by this new name eventually. All I can say is - keep an eye
out for this, it's got potential to be pretty neat.
ClickTracks is a very unique tool that any webmaster can install themselves
ClickTracks provides one simple but valuable piece of information - the paths
your visitors are clicking through. When used, a ClickTracks report appears as
on overlay on your website, placing graphs next to each link - and starting from
the referring page, shows you statistically the paths that visitors from each
referring site took through your web site.
NetTracker is a pricey solution, but fairly popular amongst internet marketers.
Although I've not pursued it beyond the free trial, I know enough to outline a
few perks. Above all else, the product is backed by both marketing and IT
professionals - giving this solution the credentials necessary for enterprise
level usage. Although I was unable to find any powerfully unique features in the
NetTracker trial - the company behind the software is willing to customize its
solution to meet whatever feasible needs would still not be met by any options
above, so if you're looking for something still not mentioned, this could be the
place to look.
Conclusively, these are only a few examples in the vastness of traffic
analytics, but collectively, this list does well to cover all bases with a
minimal amount of redundancy. It's possible that one of these tools will meet
your needs alone, a certain combination, or even all of them, but whatever the
case choose wisely - and you will have the power to shape your web site as it
needs to be.
About the Author:
Corey Northcutt works with Ubiquity Hosting Solutions, where he derives direct
analytics experience through providing
hosting, Webalizer, Analog, raw logfiles, and other analytical tools to
supported hosting clients.
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