Web Analytics and traffic measurement

Web Analytics and traffic measurement: How it works?

After investing in the creation of a website, you'll need a tool capable of measure its traffic and analyze its audience. As a piece of software, this website analysis tool, called web analytics or website analytics, can be installed on your website’s server or hosted on third party servers (SAAS) managed by companies specialized in website audience analysis. To see the website statistics, simply connect to their website.

Tools to Measure and analyze blog traffic

As is the case with all websites, any web analytics tool will be able to measure the traffic of your blog. If your site or blog was built with WordPress, there is a Wordpress analytics plugin for that.

Cost of web analytics tools

Free web analytics and traffic measurement tools

Website traffic measurement services such as AFS Analytics or Google Analytics are usually free.

However, the benefits of the different actors may differ. For instance, Google Analytics doesn't offer a list of your visitors, let alone their individual profile. With AFS Analytics, you are presented an individual profile for each visitor, including their actions, the name of their company, their location, the search terms they used to find your website, the history of their previous visits and other useful information.

With advanced features offers, you will be able to obtain the name, address, phone number and e-mail address of your visitors thanks to a labeling system.

AFS Analytics tools provides an innovative solution with an algorithm using artificial intelligence to find the search terms used by the visitors even in case the search engine will not provide them. So you will never get the famous message ‘not provided keywords”.

Traffic measurement and website traffic analysis software that must be installed on your website's server can cost from 0 to several thousand dollars. The open source analyzer Piwik is available for free, but be ready to spend a minimum of 100 dollars for its installation.

For additional analysis of advanced features, it could be necessary to subscribe to a premium service

The premium web analytics tools

Monthly membership to AFS Analytics premium starts at about $5,50 (Silver Package). With this plan, you will got scheduled PDF Reports, detail about your visitors, SEO Tools and report. You can too monitor the rank of your keywords on the search engines.

Annual membership to Google Analytics premium is billed a minimum of $175,000 a year for a million server queries per month. For higher volumes, the bill gets bigger. Membership includes 24/7 emergency assistance and invitations to attend training and lectures.

For the premium version of Piwik, Piwik Pro, an annual membership of about 1,100 Euros will be necessary for a maximum of 300,000 pages displayed a month.

In 2016, the analysis of a website's audience is crucial.

The analysis of a website allows not only the measurement of its audience and its traffic, but also the evaluation of its design and its efficiency. The various stats provided will help the site's owner optimizing the user interface, improve its visibility in search engines and detect design errors.

The analysis can also measure the interest of the visitor for the content offered, in order to improve and enrich it according to their expectations. They can offer several predictions about the volume of your website traffic, sales, revenue: Predictive web analytics tools.

Example of website statistics provided by web analytics tools

  • Volume of visits
  • Volume of unique visitors
  • Volume of displayed pages
  • Detailed information on input, output and most requested pages
  • Information on links or exit clicks
  • Traffic sources: referrer, search engines and social networks
  • Localization of the visitors: city, region, country
  • Detailed profile of each visitor
  • Time spent on the site and the pages
  • Bounce rate on the website and per page.
  • Search terms used ont the search engines by visitors to find your website
  • Detail of the devices used by the visitors
  • Numerous Web Analytics tools are available

    There are a number of website analytics tools, some are widely accessible, others are reserved to experts.

    Most of the website audience measurement tools are able to collect analyze and display all the audience metrics in real-time. With the best web analytics tools, you can follow the users, visualize their activity and observe their behavior in real time.

    There are two main families of website audience measurement tools:

    Website analysis by log file

    Site analysis by log file is software installed on the server on which your website is hosted. The program analyzes the data stored on the logs of your server's website and generates daily reports and statistics.

    This type of analysis software, created at the beginning of the 1990's, started to become obsolete by the 2000's.

    There are a few reasons why:

    The first reason is the users' lack of interest for this type of software and the difficulty to install it: Not only must the program be installed on the server on which the site is hosted (impossible in case of shared hosting), but it also use a lot of system resources (memory, processor, disk space...) while it is being used, slowing down the rendering of the pages.

    The second reason is the lack of reliability of the information collected. These programs are unable to collect information from within the browser's cache. When someone visits the site for the first time, the web browser saves the page in its cache so it can extract and display it during the second visit. Since the web server hosting the page isn't called, the visit is not accounted for and stays invisible.

    The last one is the difficulty to detect the type of visitors and the frequency of their visits. Since the intensive use of proxies and dynamic IP by ISPs, it is difficult for these audience measuring program to differentiate robots from human visitors. It is impossible to recognize a visitor using a different IP address for each visit without storing cookies. The programs analyzing sites by markers use cookies to detect the returning visitors.

    For all these reasons, the information collected by these audience analysis programs is considered unreliable.

    Website analysis using page markers or trackers

    This solution, more accurate, involves the insertion of few lines of HTML and JavaScript code, also known as tracking code. The purpose of this marker or tracker is to collect information on the visitor and on the page, then send them to the server of the company in charge of measuring the website traffic and audience. The Web Analytics Company will record and process data, then display statistics and analyses in detailed reports on its own website into a dashboard. The owner or webmaster will connect using his account to consult the thorough stats of their website.

    The biggest advantage of this solution is the pertinence of the metrics obtained by using cookies.

    Data processing being performed by the server of the website analysis company, the server on which the website is hosted will not experience any slow down. You should however check with the company that they use an asynchronous JavaScript code. These types of code, executed in multitask; will not slow down the rendering of the pages if the server of the website analysis company becomes unavailable. AFS Analytics provides such tracking code.

    Web analytics using log files or trackers

    The rest of this article is dedicated to the web analytics tools using markers or trackers.

    Companies offering website analytics services

    The web analytics service offered by Google is certainly one of the most known but also the most controversial because of the way the collected data is used. Google Analytics also proves itself difficult to use and install. Some basic training is necessary and the complexity of the options offered can discourage most users. It is advised to hire an expert for its installation if you want accurate statistics.

    The AFS Analytics web audience measurement tool offers a different approach, all metrics and analyses are available from a dashboard displayed on a single page. All the statistics are calculated and displayed in real-time. With its intuitive user interface, it only takes seconds to consult the trends of the day and observing the behavior of individual visitors is easy. The data collected by AFS Analytics are neither shared nor sold to third parties, guaranteeing their confidentiality.

    Installing trackers on the website pages to analyze

    The installation shouldn't be problematic for webmasters, you only need to copy and then paste a few lines of code on the website's pages. This code can be directly included into the HTML pages or integrated in a PHP or ASP file. The markers, also known as trackers, can be configured manually or dynamically using JavaScript variables. Install guides are available on the web analytics providers website.

    For beginners, the webmaster will be able to implement the code for a reasonable price; AFS Analytics offers this service for about 35 dollars.

    There are also analytics plugin for WordPress websites making code implementation easier. In this case the installation will only take a few minutes.

    Definition of the terms used in audience measurement or web analytics

    Page viewed: A page viewed is the consultation of a page by a visitor.

    Visit: A visit is the consultation by an individual of one or more pages of the website. The visit ends after a set amount of time if the person becomes inactive. It can be several minutes to an hour.

    Unique visitor: A unique visitor is a person having visited the website at least once during the day. Someone who visits the site in a single day will be counted as a unique visitor.

    Monthly unique visitor: A monthly unique visitor is a person having visited the website at least once in the month. Someone who visits the site several times in the same month will be counted as a monthly unique visitor.

    Returning visitor: A returning visitor is an individual having visited the site at least once in a fixed period (usually a year or more.)

    New visitor: A new visitor is an individual having never visited the website before a fixed period (usually a year or more.)

    Entry page: The entry page is the first page seen by an individual when they visit the website.

    Exit page: The exit page is the last page seen by an individual when they visit the website.

    Referrer: The referrer is the site visited by the individual before landing on your site. Usually, the individual clicked on a link leading to your site. The referrer can be a search engine, a social network, or any other kind of website.

    Author : Scott Davis
    Scott Davis is an web analytics and S.E.O expert.
    Last revision: May 27th, 2016.

    By AFS Website Analytics.

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