Ten years ago you could include a hit counter on your website and announce proudly that your site was doing “very well” as soon as the number reached 100,000. The current process is not nearly as simple or straightforward. The internet works in complicated ways that have evolved to solve a number of small problems. Have a look at from RadiusBridge.com for more info on this. Consequently, concrete statistics are often difficult to obtain. If you believe the number of online visitors is a reliable indicator to gauge the popularity of your site or the potential sales of your product, you should consider the following:
- Hit – Every time a user requests a file on your site (a page, not a picture or link to another site) it counts as a hit.
- File – When a file or page is actually sent to the user, it counts as a file.
Files normally outnumber hits, but neither is very useful in measuring traffic. Any IP can request all of the files on your page several times in one hour without any actual involvement from the user.
- Impressions – This is a concept that has existed in advertising for many decades. For example, a 2-page magazine advertisement counts as one “showing of a creative concept”. This equates to one impression every time a reader sees it. If your web page contains five small banners, you could have 10,000 page views, but 50,000 impressions.
- Page Views – Almost everyone believe this is the most important traffic statistic. This term simply refers to the number of times any particular page has been viewed. This metric can be useful. However, values can often be over-inflated and should always be considered in conjunction with unique visits.
- Visits & Unique Visits – A visit is simply logged every time a remote IP requests one of your pages for the first time in a timeout period. A unique visit is usually defined as “one visit per IP per day”, regardless of timeouts.
The above are all very important metrics, but understanding them properly is key. The best way to decide how your site’s traffic is performing is by creating a formula. If you know what you are doing, you can develop your own formula. However, there are plenty of effective formulas currently available. A basic idea of how to evaluate your traffic involves reviewing monthly averages, unique visits and page views. This will give you an idea regarding how many individuals visit your site, how many pages they view, and how long they remain.
A basic formula from MarketingExperiments.com would be:
C = 4M + 3V + 2(I-F) – 2A
This formula shows that conversions are a product of motivation (M), value (V) and then the friction (F) elements minus the incentives (I). This will help you determine how many customers are likely to purchase your product. However, you need all the values first! You can purchase online analytic tools or download them for an upfront or monthly fee. All of them can return useful data to a webmaster.
If you are not an expert webmaster, or you do not understand many of the technical intricacies of web traffic, you should download Google Analytics. This is one of Google’s new free products, and all you require is a GMail account and a web site. The program provides easy to read analytic data in a web-based form for your website. This can make it easy to determine which metrics would be most useful for analyzing your online traffic.