In managing your author website and your publishing business, it’s important to understand visitor trends for your site. Here are just a few of the things you can learn by studying website statistics:
• Number of visitors each day/week/month
• Number of page views each day/week/month
• How much your traffic is increasing over time
• How are people getting to your site
• What specific search terms people are using to find your site through search engines
• What Web page people were on before they landed on your page
• How long people stay on the site
• How many pages they visit
• Which pages are the most popular
• What countries or regions your visitors come from
You may want to use more than one statistics counter to get a full picture of your website traffic patterns. Here are a few options:
1. Statistics from your blog or website host
Check to see what kind of statistics you’re already getting from your blog or website host, and consider what other data you may be able to get from external sources.
2. Google Analytics
Google offers a free statistics counter at www.google.com/analytics. You’ll need to log in with your Google user name and password to set up your analytics account.
One nice feature of Google Analytics is a chart of where your website traffic comes from. Here’s what mine looks like:
Search engine traffic comes from web searches (primarily on Google), Direct Traffic refers to people who came directly to the site, Referring Sites means that someone clicked a link from another website to get to my site, and Other includes things like traffic generated by RSS feeds.
There are a number of other statistics counting services available, both free and paid. I use Google Analytics along with the free service at www.StatCounter.com. The StatCounter interface isn’t as pretty as Google Analytics, but I find it easier to use for quick traffic checks, and I’m able to exclude my IP address from the counter so that my visits to my own websites don’t get counted.
Savvy Tip: To find out your computer or network’s IP address, go to www.WhatisMyIPAddress.com.
Good to Know
If you’re using an external statistics counter, they will provide you with a snippet of code to place on your own website. On a blog you can place the code in a widget or sidebar item. In most cases, you will want to select an "invisible" counter so that the code is not visible to visitors.
Don’t be surprised to find that you’re getting different numbers from different statistics counters. They don’t all use exactly the same data capture methods, but the overall trends should be similar.