May 2001 Newsletter

Website Statistics - Part 2

This newsletter is part 2. Part 1 covered how to set up the stats.

**** Quick Picks

Analyzing Customer Data - knowing where you are going:
Click Z

The Need for Website Traffic Analysis:
[Article No Longer Available]

Search Listings Outperform Banners and Tiles (Tiles are the small buttons on a page):
[Article No Longer Available]
Independent study shows search listings are the way to maximize online advertising. 4specs advertises on and gets about 700 visitors a month from using 50 key words from CAD to waterproofing. Our cost is about $75 per month. You might consider advertising there. (3/03 - Since writing this newsletter, Overture changed the rules and no longer permitted 4specs to advertise on words like brick.)

**** The 4specs Perspective

Last month's newsletter suggested that you use a spreadsheet to track website statistics or a several year period. Your graph will show trends and remind you of the increasing importance of your website. We believe the most important statistic for 4specs is the number of referrals made to manufacturers and trade associations. Referrals represent user activity; visitors can represent passive viewing of pages. This is a graph showing click-throughs each month for the past 6 years, updated in October, 2004:


This graph shows that a referral slow down in the summer is normal for 4specs and not indicative of a problem. You may want to track visitors on your website - although that is not a great measure as there are problems in counting visitors. See this article on how the web works for additional information on visitor counts and why they do not always report what you think they report due to proxies and caches:
[link no longer works]

Last month we presented three ways to track website activity:
     Third Party Reporting
     Server Log Analysis

I am not going to continue on counters as third party reporting is more comprehensive and is no more difficult to set up or maintain than counters. There are many providers, I chose WebTrendsLive as the system for this newsletter. While WebTrends provides many reports, I think the reports listed below are the best ones to track.

Daily Unique Visitor Report: Here is an example of the daily visitor report for 4specs in April, 2001. It shows the higher traffic during the week compared to the weekends:

Monthly Visitors

Referring Domains Report: This report tells which website the user came from. The referrals from 4specs are due to the definition of visit. If the user stops for more than 30 minutes, they are counted as another visitor, and the source is from within 4specs. Referring domains is a better measurement than referring URL's as you may miss the importance of a website referring people from many different pages, such as google.


Search Terms Report: These are the terms used by the visitors coming from the search engines. This table confirms that about 25% of the users came from search engines and 25% from outside links, and the remainder typed in or had bookmarked 4specs:

Search Terms

These will give you actual reports for your review. You can work with your IT department or web consultant to set up WebTrendsLive or another system for your website or use the server log reports.

Server Log Reports:
This requires access to your server logs. I have reports going back to December 1996 for 4specs and Specs-Online. It is very interesting to compare the activity then and now. I use Analog to run these reports, and Analog is free.

One advantage of Server Log Reports (as compared to Google Analytics reports) is to show failures - broken mages and missing pages. Third party reporting cannot show these. We have numerous failures as we block robots from running through the website triggering manufacturers' hot links. We ban bad robots and their requests show up as failures.

Redirections are where we change the URL to a new URL in the server. We do this for changed pages. We also use redirection when we send a user to a manufacturers website and the referral shows up as a redirection.

I hope these reports are helping in evaluating your website. I would like to hear your comments and questions. Next month - more on eCommerce.


Colin Gilboy
Publisher - 4specs
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