January 2006 Newsletter

Tracking Site Statistics

**** The 4specs Perspective

I was reminded several times in December that some of our advertisers (and many non-advertisers) still do not receive monthly statistical reports on their site activities. Every month I talk with non-advertisers who are completley unaware that site statistical reports are even available. I have a selfish interest in you tracking your statistics - it increases our advertising and renewal rates.

Your interest in statistics should be three fold:

1. Optimization - Identify problems with the current site's design as to search engine optimization

2. Cost Effectiveness - Understand the effectiveness of your advertising by tracking cost per referral

3. Monitoring and Maintenance - Track what happens after you make any site changes. If you change your site, and activity goes down, you need to know it and take action. Without prior reports you will never know if the changes were effective or not. This was discussed in a past newsletter.
http://www.4specs.com/s2a/news/200105_website_stats.html

Setting up tracking is a relatively simple, inexpensive two-step process. First, you need to gain access to your server logs. Most web providers will allow you to access or download these at no cost. Second, you need to choose from among the many statistical analysis programs - some of which are free. My recommendations are listed below. For more detailed recommendations, see: http://www.4specs.com/s2a/news/0503_analysis.html

I recommend you maintain a monthly scorecard (spreadsheet) with a line for each month. Have the following columns:

1. Month

2. Several quantity statistics - bandwidth, page loads, number of visitors. These numbers do not have any real meaning as they are only approximations, but tracking these over time will reveal changes in site activity

3. Google Referrals, Yahoo and Search.MSN - these will help track the effectiveness of your search engine optimization and site design.

You will also want to monitor your " Search Query Terms" or Key Word Phrases to be sure they are what you expect. Here are the Search Query Terms for 4specs. Few people would have guessed that attic stairs is consistently our number one search phrase [in 2005]:

If you do not normally have this information early each month, ask your web consultant or IT department to set this up and to give you a copy. There are many programs that can be used. I use Analog as our primary analysis program. [Link no longer works]

There are many analysis programs available. Some you might want to consider:

  1. ClickTracks - now part of Lyris
  2. WebTrends
Google recently purchased Urchin, which has been rated as one of the best analytical packages, and made the service. You might look at this as an alternate. It does require some javascript code to be put on every page.
https://marketingplatform.google.com/about/analytics/

While Urchin is a great program, I prefer a log analysis program as it shows broken links and search engine spider visits. Javascript driven programs are unable to track the spider visits. It is important to monitor the number of times googlebot visits and how many pages are downloaded.

**** 4specs Recommended Reading

ClickZ article entitled: Five Things Every CMO Must Know About Web Analytics, Part 1
ClickZ

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Colin Gilboy
Publisher - 4specs
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