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Web Design: Log Analysis

Go to all tips in Web development, tech, marketing, securi

Web development: tech side

Log Analysis

by The AuctionMan Craig Meyer
http://www.auctiontrainer.com

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 to arise.

*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 through FTP.

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:
http://openwebscope.com/Default.asp?vid=258

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:


"Unique Visitors"
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 load).

"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.

"Errors Reported"
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 over-hyped, world.



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More articles for Web developers : Search engines ranking, Technical Side, How To Get More Visitors, How you lose your visitors, My steps to success, Affiliate programs, Visitors by Ezines, Internet Marketting, Make your site known and more
READ HERE


4675 bytes more | comments? | Printer Friendly Page  Send to a Friend | Web Design | Score: 0
Posted by jalex on Monday, October 27, 2003 (00:00:00) (3085 reads)

Web Design: Web development: search engines

Go to all tips in Web development, tech, marketing, securi

Web development: search engines

Are You Winning or Losing In Google?

Copyright © 2003, John Gergye
Traffic-Test-Tube.com
http://www.traffic-test-tube.com/search-engine-quiz.shtml



When tracking how well you’re doing against competitors in Google are you winning, losing or just holding your own?

Don’t know? Doesn’t surprise me.

Most have no clue if they’re winning the Google rankings battle much less the war. Which is a shame since keeping score is so simple. Here’s all you do.

Identify the Competition
Track Page Rank
Ferret Out How Many Pages in Google
Gauge Both Quantity and Quality of Inbound Links
Track Traffic
Keep an Eye on Them

That’s it. That’s all that counts really. Here’s how to do it.

** Identify Your Competitors
Not hard. Just identify the top 5 competitors in your niche you want to outrank.


** Track Page Rank (PR)
Pick the two or three "must-win" keywords you want to come out on top for.

Use the Google toolbar <http://toolbar.google.com> to track the PR of competitors’ home pages plus the two or three other pages optimized for those competitive keywords you picked.

Note the PR of each on a spreadsheet.


** How Many Pages in Google?
Again pretty simple if you have this tool:
<http://www.neutralize.com/cmsvp/index.htm>

In the left hand column you’ll see it asks "How well optimized is your website?"

Now I don’t give a rat’s behind about mine, necessarily. But I do care about those pesky competitors.

Enter the competitor’s URL
Stick in some guessimate for how many pages on their site Hit the "check now" button.

The result will show you how many pages they’ve got in Google, FAST, altaVista, and Inktomi. While I track all of them - at least track the pages in Google.



** Gauge Quantity and Quality of Inbound Links It’s a cinch if you use FAST to get the number or quantity of inbound links since they’re more inclusive.

Google on the other hand will only reveal in bound links from PR 4 sites or higher. BAM! There’s your take on quality.

Here’s how. Using FAST <http://www.alltheweb.com> put:

link:www.competitor.com

in the search box. All pages linking to www.competitor.com are returned.

Do the same with Google.

Record the count of all links plus high quality links on your spreadsheet. (Be sure to subtract the internal links from pages in the website in question.)


** Track Traffic
Use either Alexa’s Toolbar <http://download.alexa.com> or visit
Alexa <http://www.alexa.com> to grab traffic stats.

While far from perfect since it can be manipulated, you can still get a decent estimate of traffic as measured by users with the Alexa toolbar visiting the sites.

To keep it simple just track the traffic rank.

Then to close the loop…

** Keep an Eye on Them
Use a page monitoring service to watch competitor sites like a hawk. Sure some would call this spying. But that has such a negative connotation. I prefer monitoring. Here’s the free tool to use that makes this automatic.

Change Detect <http://www.changedetect.com> will email you whenever a site it’s monitoring for you changes.

This gives you yet one more way to track if the webmaster is actively improving their site or asleep at the switch.

Now the easiest way to recognize trends is to graph what’s going on. You’ll be able to see right away if the trend is your friend or not.

Look. Don’t be blindsided like a frog in water on the stove. Who will boil to death because he doesn’t detect what’s going on.

** Track your closest rivals.
** Compare your stats to theirs.
** Re-act accordingly.

It’s easy and doesn’t take more than 20-30 minutes a week given the tools revealed. Yet doing so gives you the marketing intelligence you need to improve your Google ranking or hold your own. No matter what your competitors are doing.



Resource Box:
-----------------------------------------------------------------
How much is more traffic worth to your business? Take John
Gergye’s Search Engine Quiz and get a special report "Coming
Out On Top" with 49 tools that make it easy to get more traffic.
http://www.traffic-test-tube.com/search-engine-quiz.shtml
-----------------------------------------------------------------


Posted: Wed Sep 17 02:52:12 EDT 2003


For more articles by this author, please visit:

http://ThePhantomWriters.com/free_content/d/index.shtml#John_Gergye


*******************************************
More articles for Web developers : Search engines ranking, Technical Side, How To Get More Visitors, How you lose your visitors, My steps to success, Affiliate programs, Visitors by Ezines, Internet Marketting, Make your site known and more
READ HERE


4497 bytes more | 12 comments | Printer Friendly Page  Send to a Friend | Web Design | Score: 1
Posted by jalex on Saturday, October 25, 2003 (00:00:00) (3177 reads)

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