FIGURES (Part 1)|
Smith dwells on the imperfect science of web traffic analysis and hits you with
fuzzy math in another geeky 2-parter...
As a blogger,
you are essentially a webmaster. You design, operate and maintain a web site.
As the webmaster, you naturally would want to know who arrived at your site, where
they originated from and what they were looking at. All these are possible, because
most browsers snitch on their clueless owners, big time.
If I want to, the above information alone allows me to track your entire stay
on this site without even opening the cookie
jar. Such data or information is usually collected by the server where
the blog or site is hosted, by a tracking service or by the ISP which handles
the traffic; all courtesy of a foxy browser programmed to spill the beans.
Unless you have access to the server logs, the easiest way is to plant a so-called
'single pixel' informer on your pages such as Sitemeter.
The measurement is done on the fly and the data captured is quite comprehensive.
(for free versions) as seen on the bottom right of this page. Except for the logo,
most of the action behind the scenes is invisible to the visitor.
you keep the logo and script near the top or bottom of your page may be a matter
of aesthetical or practical considerations. If you place it on the top it is more
accurate since it loads first. However, if for some reason the meter fails to
call home, it can also stall or delay the loading of the rest of your page. Placing
it a the bottom would eliminate this hindrance but it presents another problem
altogether. Some visitors who are impatient may stop the page loading or click
on another link before the meter loads, thereby undercounting your traffic.
logs, on the other hand, are much more accurate if you can get your hands on them.
They are also mean, hungry and ugly. They take up plenty of space, are quite tasteless
eaten raw, and require a third party analysis plug-in or program. The data is
usually processed in batches and not in real-time like Sitemeter. Both methods
however harvest quite similar end-results after processing, sorting and charting.
The next challenge is understanding and interpolating the results.
this demo, I started with a clean slate and logged my server's activities between
6:43pm 31st Jan to 7:47am 2nd Feb 2005. This 2-day experiment rendered
a 15MB log file that contains some 72,000 lines (one line per hit). The
data was collected 'live' via a SSH session, parsed and processed off-line by
software. Gaps during Jaring Wireless's persistent signal breaks and the FT holiday
reduced reported traffic considerably, thankfully.
was a big thing during the dotcom boom days when eyeballs meant everything to
ignorant investors and sneaky upstarts. A hit is a browser request for any one
the page. One page view as you can see can generate any amount of hits depending
on what's inside the page. Hits by themselves are thereby quite misleading, meaningless
and rightfully untrusted.
Requests tells you a lot. It means your visitors are returning visitors, which
is good. They have been to your site before and your page is not loaded as a similar
copy is still in their browser's cache. It also means you have not updated your
site, which is bad.
Requests are images and pages that did show up when requested. A likely reason
is that your images are too large and thereby slow to load. Or that your visitors
are mostly using dial up-or pseudo broadband access.
Views. Successful requests for a specific URL or page. A visit to this page
is counted as one page view even though 7 hits may be recorded.
People hanging around the site, usually within 30 minutes sessions. Visitors and
page views statistics reveal more than hits.
IPs: Imperfect way of separating new visitors from old.
Pay close attention if your web host sets a cap and charges you when you exceed
its limit. If you are a forummer especially, please note that by hot-linking to
someone's image without permission, you are not only stealing the image
but bandwidth as well.
The resource or url that sent the visitor to your doorstep. Contrary to what you
were always told, "No Referrers" are good. The more, the merrier you
get. It usually means that most of your visitors came in by typing the url directly
or by bookmarks. Repeat customers are always good. However, in Sitemeter, if your
stats show no referrals at all, it may mean you inserted the wrong code! Hang
up: PART 2: Making Sense of Sitemeter Statistics
2005 TV SMITH
Link to this article: http://www.tvsmith.net.my/duasen/020205_stats1.html