Tracking site usage and performance - HTML

Once your marketing is underway, determine its effectiveness. The first step in this process is to determine where your traffic originates. Then measure what individuals do once they get to your site. This helps you find out if one marketing approach is more effective than others. Every Web server creates log files, which are raw data files containing information about visitors to your site. This data consists of the user’s IP address, what browser the user employs, and the time of day the user came to your site.

Reading the access log file
A Web server usually has an access log file containing information formatted in the common logfile format that is used by most Web servers. You can purchase special software designed to parse these files and generate user-friendly graphs for your analysis. Most decent Web site hosting plans include such software with their plans. One common user access software analysis tool is WebTrends. Check with your host provider to see if they offer such software. You can also review access logs yourself. For example, each line in an access log file represents one request, as in the following example:

someonesmachine_sf_someISP_hub - - [30/Aug/2004:20:01:22 - 0700]“GET /services/index.html HTTP/1.0” 200 1223

In the preceding line from an access log, someonesmachine_sf_someISP_hub is the name of the computer that made a request for /services/index.html on the night of August 30, 2004. The 200 indicates that the request was answered successfully, and the 1223 indicates how many bytes your machine sent in response to the request.

Using a referrer log file
A referrer log keeps track of where Web users came from. This helps you find out where links to your Web site exist on other sites. For example, the following is a result from a Yahoo search resulting in a query for “fish”. You may also have a link from another site. Perhaps someone likes your pages that describe the many kinds of fish one can find in the ocean. Their link to your site may result in someone clicking the link and visiting

Using an extended log file
A personal extended log file contains a combination of access log and referrer log information. Not all Web servers generate these, but most do. Keep in mind that log files can get quite large. Delete them from your server or copy them over to your personal computer from time to time if your Web hosting provider doesn’t do that automatically for you.

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