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Watch Your Web Statistics

One of the most critical, and most often overlooked, jobs of a webmaster is to monitor and react to the statistics of his web site. I cannot overemphasize how important this function is to the survival of any web site. It does not matter whether you have a personal home page or a high-traffic commericial site, you had better be watching your statistics.

web statistics
Web Statistics

Why? Well, presumably you want someone to visit your site, otherwise why did you create it in the first place? Thus it's important to examine your statistics to see if people are visiting, what they are visiting, and how long they are staying.

Let's begin with the most basic statistic, which most web sites have in one form or another. This is a simple "hit counter". The hit counter simply tells you how many times your page has been viewed. In it's most primitive, and usual form, each refresh, each view, everything counts as one hit. More advanced hit counters don't update on mere refreshes.

The hit counter is primitive but useful nonetheless in that you can find out if anyone is visiting your pages at all. Of course, you have to remember that your own visits count also, and subtract those numbers accordingly.

Better statistics packages such as Hitbox have many, many more features. One of the most useful is the average count of pages viewed by each surfer. This is valuable because it tells you if people are leaving or sticking around, which gives you insight as to whether your content is any good. If this number is high you can also infer that your site navigation is good.

Another good statistic is the amount of time spent viewing each page. This is another good way to tell if the content is any good. Pages within your website which have short values here probably need to be improved.

Very good statistics packages such as Hitbox (or direct access to the server logs) can provide the extremely useful Referrer statistic. This value tells you where your visitors are coming from, which is useful to tell you if your link exchanges and other promotion efforts are working.

Speaking of server logs, if you can get a host (such as Bizland.Com) which gives you access to these you are in great shape! One statistic you should always keep your eyes on is 404 errors. These are bad links within your own website. If you have any of these you should look through your site for the invalid references and get them fixed.

As you can see, web statistics are an incredibly valuable way to watch over your website to see if it is producing the desired results.