You've made your first pass at promoting your web site. You listed in all the important search engines, established link partnerships with like-minded sites, perhaps started an opt-in newsletter, even did some offline advertising. Count on doing that forever. But you also need to know how effective your activities have been. The first thing you realize is that counter you put on your home page doesn't tell you a thing. Let's see, you had 780 hits today. Great, now who were they? Don't know? OK, where did they come from? Who sent them? You mean I can find that out?
You also discover through a complimentary email message that someone in Bulgaria really liked your site planning tutorial; but, your hit counter didn't increment. How could that be? Well, did you put a counter on every single page of your site, or just on the home page? Rest assured, when the search engines spidered your pages, they didn't list all the keywords they found as belonging to your entry page. People actually do enter your site right smack dab in the middle. Ugh, you say, I hadn't counted on that.
Get rid of your counter. It serves no productive purpose. If the numbers are low, people think your site isn't popular. If the numbers are high, people think you lie. Most of all, they don't tell you a thing you need to know about your site's traffic. That is where trackers come in. If you are using one of the free web hosting services, you can also get free tracker software. There are several good ones available, just do a search for free web site tracking. Internet Brothers uses Sitemeter. Have you noticed the little multi-colored box at the bottom of all our pages? That is the Sitemeter link. Go ahead, click it now to look at all the statistics they provide for us free of charge. We'll be here when you get back.
Web site promotion involves statistical analysis of its effectiveness. You must determine what has helped, and what hasn't.
What did you think? Impressive isn't it? You get a quick summary page telling you how many hits and page views you've had today, this week, and this month. You get visitor detail like when they came and what domain they were from. Want to know how many pages they looked at on your site while they were there? Check out the page view stats. You can see information about the browser they used, the operating system on their computer, what country they are from, and how big their monitor is. But best of all, you can determine how they found your site. Focus on the referrer statistics. That will tell you where they clicked from; whether it be a search engine — with the query terms they entered — or a link from one of your buddies. When you get good at this, you'll discover it's a lot of fun. More importantly, you can leverage this information in your business.
There is, however, one missing piece of the puzzle. How do you know where they entered your site? You could setup a separate account for every single page of your site, but that would be tedious, and wouldn't really be fair to the free tracking service. For this information, you truly need your own domain, like internetbrothers.com. Generally, all web hosts provide tracking software when you open an account with your own domain. Since the tracking is then done on the server, rather than in the browser client like with Sitemeter, you can also now determine the entry page. Great information to know. You can tell potential advertisers "this is my hottest page", and adjust rates accordingly. You can find out what interests your guests about the site and put even more development effort into that area.
So what have we learned? Web site promotion involves statistical analysis of its effectiveness. You must determine what has helped, and what hasn't. Insure you are recording activity to every page of your site, not just the home page, whether it be with a free service or through your web host. Now, ditch that counter and get tracking!