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Web Page Statistics Demystified

By Alice Seba
Posted Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Do web page statistics have your head spinning? What's a hit? How is that different than a request? Is it the same as a visitor? And how about a unique visitor? Here are some answers. Read on and you will also find out how to use your web page statistics effectively in your online marketing plan and web page design.

A Few Definitions:
Hits - This statistic counts each html file on a page. This includes the actual page a person is looking at and it counts each picture on a page. If your page has 3 graphics on it; then a visit to that page would generate 4 hits.

Requests - Usually, this is the same thing as a hit. If it is called a "page request", it would be the same thing as "pages". This may sound confusing, but people are using different terms to mean the same thing.

Visitor - This varies, but generally it is one IP visiting your site in a 30 minute period. If the same visitor comes back after 30 minutes, they will be counted as a visitor again.

Unique Visitor - This is tracked by IP. Each IP is counted only once.

Page View - This statistic counts the number of pages looked at. It is not like hits - it does not count graphic images.

Page Request - same as page view

Well, now what? There is a lot of discussion on how accurate website statistics are. There are so many factors - different visitors using the same IP or caching of pages. There are some ISPs that use Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol, such as AOL and cable modem providers, which use different IPs for every file requested.* This can make one user look like many. Pages with frames may give distorted statistics as the frame is its own page, thus increasing the actual number of pages viewed.

Although you cannot take what your statistics say as gospel, you can learn a lot about your website visitors and your web page from them. Thus, enabling you to improve your website and to create a viable marketing and design plan.

Generally, you want to learn more about what percentage of your visitors are "buying", how people find you, what pages they are looking at and which pages they are not looking at.

Focus your attention on the following statistics: 1. Visitors - You set up a web page because you want your visitors to do something. It may be to purchase your product, sign up for your newsletter or to request more information. Whatever your goal is, you cannot simply look at the number of visitors to your site to determine your success.

You can have a 1000 visitors, but if no one purchases your product, signs up or asks for more information - you are not achieving your goal. To figure out your success rate take your sales or whatever you want your visitors to do and divide it by the number of visitors. This will give you a percentage of visitors that are "buying" what you are "selling".** Your goal is to increase this percentage.

2. Pages - Find out which pages people are visiting and which ones they are not. If they are not visiting a particular page - could it be because your visitors are not interested? Perhaps, you just need to fix your navigation to that page. You may want to rename the link to the page. Perhaps the title is not attracting the right attention.

3. Referrals - Keep track of your advertising campaigns, reciprocal links and search engine referrals. How many referrals are your advertising campaigns or links giving you? If this number is low, there could be a number of factors affecting your success. It could be that this is the wrong place to advertise or perhaps your ad copy needs a bit of tweaking.

4. Keywords - This is an invaluable resource. This tells you how people are finding your site on the search engines. It helps you find the keywords you score high on so that you can maximize on them.

I recommend taking the keywords listed in your stats and checking your ranking on them at sitesolutions.com free rank checking service at (http://www.sitesolutions.com)

Capitalize on these keywords. Make sure they appear in the titles of your relevant pages and that they are in the text body of these pages. Also ensure these keywords are in your meta tags.

In the end, don't take your statistics too literally. However, do take the time to read through them and analyze the general trends they are showing you. They can provide an invaluable resource for you in the development of your site and business.

About the Author
Alice Seba is the creator of (http://www.internetbasedmoms.com), the online home-based resource center for work at home moms. Receive great tips on building your Internet Business right into your email inbox by sending a blank email to mailto:subscribenewsletter@internetbasedmoms.com