Tracking Performance with Hit Counters

As web site owner or administrator you are familiar with the importance of web site analytics and being able to track web page hits and even the projected paths of your visitors. Knowing what pages they enter your web site from, and how they got there are key to business development. Being able to predict these things, as well as understand when it is successful, such as knowing when a site visitor reached your site from a search engine, versus another web site that links to yours – or even just from typing the address into the URL bar. All of these aspects are crucial to planning your next steps in developing a successful online business.

There are two aspects of this that we discuss when talking about Hit Counters. There is the counter itself, typically a small program, application or script that you install into the bottom of your web pages – and then there is the act of Hit Counting. Hit Counting is the process by which you take the data recorded by the Hit Counter and extrapolate patterns so that you can predict traffic and how you may be able to fine tune different aspects of your web site to make it easier to use, more customer centric, and increase sales or visitors by reducing the number of clicks it takes to reach their objective.

Typically you will have a decent hit counter built into your Shared Web Hosting administration Panel or Control Panel. Analyzing the Server Logs performs this method of Hit Counting. Log information is parsed for data relative to your web site and is sorted into tables of numbers and URLs. All the files that have been accessed are available for drilling down and obtaining hit information. This includes web pages, images, files for download, style sheets and any streaming media.

The most important aspect of Hit Counters for the Site Owner is to know how many over-all visitors are making it to his/her web site. This is different than page views, which record total page views for the entire site regardless of whether it is the same visitor hitting his refresh button 5 times on a certain page, or if it is 100 unique visitors hitting different pages throughout the site. Advance Hit Counters that use Server Logs can do just that, by collecting the composite data and parse it into tables of usable data. Checking these results can find hidden needs of your viewers that you may not find otherwise. An example of this would be finding that 30% of your site visitors are using web browsers that are designated as French Speaking users. This kind of find would suggest that having additional pages of your site be translated into French – may appeal to a significant audience share on your site.

Knowing your site and its performance is equivalent to knowing your visitors. You just have to know where to look.

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