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Web Log Analysis

Web Log Analysis
By Sharon Housley

Everyone who understands Internet Marketing will tell you to analyze your web logs... but what does that really mean? What particular things should you pay attention to when analyzing your web logs?

Errors - Page Not Found

How many visitors to your site experience an incorrect or invalid URL? Perhaps you have links on your website to a page that no longer exists. Reviewing the number of "page not found" listings in your web logs will help discern if you have any pages that are not accessible to your visitors. If that is the case, you can then either replace the missing page, or implement a system to automatically redirect the visitor to an appropriate alternate page.

Top Referrers

Where is your traffic coming from? Reviewing the sources of web traffic allows you to assess what advertising campaigns have resulted in increased web traffic.

Top Exit Pages

Where are you losing your traffic? Are there specific pages on the website that bleed traffic? This means that, for whatever reason, website visitors choose to leave your website after viewing a specific page. Evaluating which pages lead visitors to leave your site might mean that the content you are providing is not what the visitor expected. Perhaps small changes can be made to specific webpages to capture traffic and retain the website visitor's interest.

Top Incoming Pages

What pages are bringing visitors into your website? Perhaps you have a webpage buried deep within your site that unexpectedly generates a significant amount of traffic. Perhaps you have an obscure page in your site that contains odd or unusual phrases that perform surprisingly well in the search engines. Can the results be reproduced by using a related phrase on a similar webpage?

Top Search Words & Phrases

What keywords and phrases are customers using to find your website? The keywords that do not appear prevalent in the web logs can be just as important. Are there specific phrases you are attempting to optimize for, but are not generating the desired traffic? Perhaps renewed effort needs to be applied to website optimization.

Unique Visitors

How many unique visitors does your website receive? Is the trend increasing or decreasing? The number of unique visitors (note: not the number of hits) can be a good indicator of a website's popularity, and any trends that might relate to that popularity.

Average Time Spent And Page Views

How much time is spent on the website? How much time is spent on a specific webpage? Webmasters will often attract traffic by using catchy titles, but then the actual page content fails to deliver, and the website visitor ends up simply clicking away. Take a close look at the length of time your website visitors spend across a website and on specific pages. Consider what tweaks can be made to better harness and retain that web traffic.

Browsers

Evaluating the various web browsers being used by your website visitors can tell you two things - what browsers you should be testing your website in, AND, what Operating System your customers have. Are you getting a lot of Mac traffic but only offer a windows product? Maybe you can partner with a competing Mac product and capture some of that market.

Country of Origin

The country of origin might be helpful if you are considering localization. It can also be helpful if you see a lot of PPC (Pay Per Click) traffic coming from a country that does not generate a lot sales. This means you are paying for traffic which is NOT resulting in sales.

Log analysis is an ongoing process. Pay particular attention to trends and traffic patterns. Understanding web logs will give you an insight into what is working and what is not working. The numbers seldom lie -- statistics gleaned from web logs can give a true picture of how a website is performing. By critically analyzing the numbers, webmasters can effectively optimize their website to better capture and hold on to web traffic.

While the information contained in web logs is very helpful in discern what designs are working, and what path users take in your website, keep in mind that the MOST important information to evaluate is the traffic that results in sales. Work with your order processing company to determine what keywords and advertisements lead to sales. The goal of any advertising campaign is not to just bring web traffic, but to bring web traffic that ultimately decides to buy your product or service.

About the Author:
Sharon Housley manages marketing for FeedForAll http://www.feedforall.com software for creating, editing, publishing RSS feeds and podcasts. In addition Sharon manages marketing for RecordForAll http://www.recordforall.com audio recording and editing software.

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This article may be used freely in opt-in publications and websites, provided that the resource box is included and the links are active. A courtesy copy of the issue or a link to any online posting would be greatly appreciated send an email to sharon@notepage.net .

Additional articles available for publication available at http://www.small-business-software.net/free-website-content.htm

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