When Written: April 2006
After building a web site and making it live the next very important stage is the monitoring of the number of visitors to the site. It is important to set this up before you start promoting the web site, otherwise how are you going to tell whether that expensive advertising campaign or the cheap email shot, has done any good?
We are not talking about those dreadful hit counters that you see on some sites; what is needed is a much more detailed view of what is being looked at , for how long and by whom. These fall into two main groups; the first type import the web server log files into a database and allow the user then to analyze the information in various ways. This is popular with marketing departments who like drill down the data and to examine it in various ways. The second type of web log analysis tools examine the log files directly and produce a report directly, usually in web form.
This process is usually scheduled to run at certain times and it is this second type that I tend to use for our clients. In the past I have always used WebTrends (www.webtrends.com) which although it has its critics, has worked well over the years producing pages like https://www.ecatsbridge.com/stats .However the pricing structure for WebTrends has changed somewhat and now does not favour large traffic, low income web sites as the licence is now based on the number of page impressions rather than on the number of sites.
So I have been looking around and whilst not quite what I am looking for, if you need to analyse a set of log files from a web server in a way that a non techi marketing person can understand then it is worth taking a look at Click Tracks free Appetizer product http://www.clicktracks.com/products/appetizer/?source=pcpro . This product, once it has imported your log files into its database, allows you to browse the data doing difference analyses of the information; it has a particularly cute way of showing the popularity of each link on a preview of any web page, very cool. Obviously they hope that you will be so taken with the product that you will upgrade to their more extensive products, but even as it stands some useful information can be gleaned from the log files.
Article by: Mark Newton
Published in: Mark Newton