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How to measure website traffic?

web traffic

While there are many proprietary programs designed to help web masters analyze traffic on their site, the question is not really one that revolves around which tool is used to display the data, but rather what sort of analysis is run on the data that is captured.

Many people look at the gross number of web visitors but this is really not an especially useful metric. More important would be the readout of how many visitors viewed the site during various hours of the day. This could lead one to conclude that there is an inadequate amount of bandwidth during surge times, even if the total number of daily visitors would seem to be well within the usual bandwidth parameters.

Another critical measurement is that of the traffic path followed by website visitors and the amount of time they spent on any particular page. This can alert the designer to the need to change pages that have very short visits, which would indicate that the viewer did not find what they were looking for, or perhaps found an item they wanted but it may be priced ridiculously high in comparison to other sites. The result is that they quickly bail off the page and most probably out of the site entirely.

Conversely, pages that attract attention for long periods of time obviously have something the viewer wants or needs. Providing more of this sort of content would obviously be in order. Exit points provide valuable guidance as to where a web site succeeds and fails. Clearly, measuring website traffic needs to depend on the internal substrates much more than the headline number of daily visits.

An experienced web analyst can look at these data points and provide a lot of valuable commentary on where changes need to be made, and which things actually need to receive greater emphasis. Whether he elects to use Google Analytics, Webtrends, or some other analytical tool doesn’t really make much difference. They will all provide the same basic picture of the situation even if they present the gleanings in slightly different formats. The key is to collect, analyze, and refine.

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