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Web Site Statistics - The Holy Grail.

As a webmaster commited to developing your website you need to ensure that you are looking at your web stats, the most popular are Awstats and Webalizer and these tend to come free of charge with your hosting package and are accessed through your hosting control panel. If your hosting package doesn't provide these then the simple answer is change hosts as you are receiving a below par service.

There are more in depth packages out there but the information you can get from the above is more than enough to help you develop you sites so don't get drawn into buying anything until you have mastered the free programs you get.

The main information that you are looking for is:

1. Which page is getting the most hits.
2. The number of hits you are getting from the search engines.
3. The key phrases/words that are being used to find your site in the search engines.
4. Which sites are sending you the most traffic.
5. What your 404 error page rate is.

It is important to monitor search engine spider visits, the programs show the frequency of their visits, you need to keep an eye on this because if they start to visit less frequently then this can be an early sign that there is an 'issue' with your web site or web pages and you can be addressing this quickly. One of the worst things that can happen to a web site is that it is completely dropped off the search engine radar.

Analyzing which keywords are developing your website the most visitors from the search engines allows you to see what is working and what is not, what is the point in targetting a keyword that is driving you no traffic! Use this information to fine tune your targetted key words and take advantage by getting more content up that is specific to that key word. It also allows you to take that key word to the search engines themselves and see where you rank in the listings, you will be able to see what effect a change in position has on your traffic and provides you a basis to monitor your efforts on placement etc.

Your linking strategy should be based on placing links on pages that will develop your sites traffic and internet presence, different sites work differently for different types of web sites. So to be able to monitor your efforts is key, the above programs provide a list of all the referring websites so that you can see what is working and what isn't. If you submit an article, gain a new backlink from an authority site or place a banner on a site etc then you will be able to see what the impact has been very easily.If it works then use this method again, if it doesn't then look into why..does it need redesigning, was it the right placement, what other sites may work with the same process?

An often overlooked statistic is the 404 error frequency, this details how many times a page couldn't be found on your website. This provides you with a means to correct the problem but also shows you how valuable it is to have a customised 404 page that contains links back to your site, no point in losing a potential visitor is there.

Therefore, in summary, I will make the statement that:

To ignore your web site stats is to be out of touch with reality, use them to develop your site and see your site grow.

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