Analyze Website Traffic

Add a counter and use its tracking to better evaluate your site's traffic.


CFH Web WorkshopCounters can tell you more than the number of visitors to your site. Counters track everything: time of visit, country of origin, type of browser, and operating system.

How can you use this information to design a better website? First, add a counter to your website. Then see what you can learn from the statistics.

Hits vs. Page views/Unique Visitors

Type of Browser

Type of Operating System

Domains and Direct Requests

Analyze Website Traffic: Hits, Page Views, Unique Visitors

Hits vs. Page Views

A hit is the retrieval of any item from your Web server, whether it's the HTML page itself, a sound file, or a graphic.

For example, a webpage with two graphics and a sound file generates a total of four hits with just one visit.

Hit statistics can be misleading, so trackers often provide a separate statistic called page views. This measures just the number of webpages viewed.

Unique Visitors

Another important statistic is the number of unique visitors. This is the total number of individual IP addresses that have accessed your site. This statistic doesn't include any refreshes or repeat visits from the same address.

Compare the number of unique visitors to the total number of visits. The bigger the difference, the more people are returning to your site.

Analyze Traffic: Type of Browser

Web designers need to know which browser visitors use to view a webpage.

If the majority of your audience is using Internet Explorer 5, then they will automatically see any Flash animation. This is because the Flash plug-in is bundled with IE5. If some users still use Netscape 3, then you may want to reconsider adding Flash animation to your webpage.

Trackers also tell you whether or not users have JavaScript enabled. If they don't, fancy JavaScript rollovers are lost on those viewers.

Analyze Traffic: Operating System

There are still a few compatibility issues between Mac and Windows platforms. Consider this when designing your site.

For example, graphics created on a Mac will display slightly darker on Windows OS. This may not matter if you know that 95 percent of your viewers are Mac users. But if you want to satisfy both platform users, adjust your graphics to find a happy medium between the two platforms.

Analyze Traffic: Domains and Direct Requests

Which Domain Drives Traffic?

You can determine which domain your traffic stems from. Is it .gov or .com? You can also determine what part of the globe they hail from.

It's good to know you have website visitors from Ghana to Guatemala. This reminds you that people are accessing your site from all over the world.

If your site has international appeal, delete parochial vernacular. Are you hip to my drift dude?

Direct Request Referrals

This statistic reveals who is referring your website, or where your site is linked.

If you discover a site is linking to your site, consider linking back. It's not only a courtesy. It may increase traffic.

If the referral is your own website, then a user has bookmarked your page. That's a good sign.

Get a Website Tracker

How do you take advantage of these tracking services? Some Web hosts provide them to you as part of the hosting package. Check with your Web host.

If your Web host does not provide a tracker, there are an abundance of free counters and trackers online.

Online counters and trackers provide the HTML code, which you cut and paste into your homepage. Be sure to put the counter graphic at the bottom of your page so that the rest of your webpage loads first.

Carefully read the privacy statements of the tracker you choose. You want to ensure neither you nor your visitors are compromised by the service. We recommend and SiteMeter if you don't use the Geocities counter on your Geocities page.

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