Wouldn’t it be great if you knew where your site visitors came from & what they were looking for? Well you do – any hosting provider worth their salt will have logs listing all traffic to your site … if they don’t or won’t pass on the details to you … You’re hosting at the wrong place!
The logs initially don’t make a very interesting read. For example:
[15/Jun/2010:09:57:42 -0500]GET /stories/op/storiesView/sid/37/tid/13/ HTTP/1.1″ 302 260 “http://www.google.ca/search?q=gifts+for+husbands+on+wedding+day&hl=en&meta=” “Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 5.5; Windows NT 4.0)”
As I said, not very interesting, BUT notice the bold text … This shows this visitor has accessed the site via the Google search engine looking for information on ‘Wedding Day gifts for Husbands‘. Now if analysis of your log files shows that lots of people are searching for Wedding Day Gifts for Husbands, you know what you need to do – Publish MORE articles on possible gifts, link to stores offering gifts (And maybe score a commission!), become THE internet resource for that particular topic.
Scouring server logs isn’t particularly sexy … isn’t there a better way?
It depends on just how much information you are after and if you are willing to pay. But there are excellent FREE resources available. Google Analytics is great once you’ve set it up and learned to decipher the information – it’s probably a lot more complicated than the average website owner needs, but the price is right! Try searching for ‘free website analytics’ and you’ll get thousands of options – just don’t get tricked by any that claim to be free & then hit you up for a monthly subscription when you get used to them.
With all of the graphs, charts, maps & data don’t forget why you’re analysing in the first place – to pinpoint what your visitors are looking for.