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How To Analyze Website Traffic


Website Traffic Basics:

      • How visitors find your site
      • How they use your site
      • How this information can help improve your website
      • Some free & paid traffic monitor tool recommendations


Analyzing website traffic helps you learn who your website visitors are and how they find and use your website. This helps you understand what parts of your site are working, what you can do to increase traffic to your website, and also where visitors might be having problems.

Each link from search engine results contain embedded information that tells how visitors found you and what kind of software they are using. Every time a web browser connects to a website it sends information about where it is connecting from, what kind of operating system and which web browser it is using.

This information is captured by website traffic monitors which sort and organize the data for display in a variety of ways, such as traffic graphs and maps showing the locations of website visitors.


Website Traffic Graph
Website Visitor Map


Data Displayed by Website Traffic Monitors:

How visitors find you:

Keywords - The phrases that visitors types into the search engines to find your website

Search engines - Which search engines are bringing visitors to your website

Entry pages - Which website pages bring visitors to your website.

Who your visitors are:

Operating System, Browser Brand & Browser Version - Knowing which software your visitors are using will tell you which browsers to test your website on.

Tcp/ip address - Shows where your visitors are located.

Basic traffic stats:

Page views - the number of individual pages viewed by all visitors combined. You can also view "page paths", the sequence of how those pages were viewed, or how visitors move through your site.

Unique visitors is actually the number of different locations your traffic comes from and is usually determined by looking at the TCP/IP addresses of the visitors, which shows their location on the internet. Unique visitors is usually the most reliable indicator statistic for the popularity of a website.

Repeat visitors show how many unique visitors return to your website on the same day after an interval of usually an hour or more.

Detailed traffic stats:

How visitors move through & use your website

Page paths - the pages visited in order, stating with the page the visitors entered the site, and also shows any file downloads or link clicks.

Downloads - any files downloaded from the site such as images or PDF files.

Time spent on each page - each page view is time stamped by the traffic monitor to calculate the time spent on each page. A page that is mostly viewed for a very short time might indicate a problem with that page.

How visitors Leave your website

Exit pages - what is the last page that your visitors view on your website before they select another website?

Exit links, also called "click-thrus" - do your visitors leave your site via a link on your site such as an ad, affiliate link, or a link to your online store?

Demographics of your visitors

    • Sex
    • Age
    • Ethnic background
    • Income
    • Education level
    • Family size

    Website Page Path Example

Website Page Path example
This example from the StatCounter traffic monitor tool shows a visitor from
Albuquerque, New Mexico who arrived at the site (top) from Google on the
Fractal Bubbles page, then visited several pages before downloading
several images (in red) and then left the site by clicking on an ad (in blue).


Knowing who your visitors are as well as how they find and use your site will help you build a website that meets the needs of your visitors, and can attract an ever increasing amount of website traffic.


Website Traffic Analysis Tools

There are many types of website traffic analysis tools. Here are the ones we use.

StatCounter - The easiest website traffic monitor to set up and use. StatCounter is especially good for beginners because the information is so well organized and easy to understand. They have a free version which records a limited amount of data, and then you can upgrade to the paid version to store more traffic data.

StatCounter Website Traffic Monitor


Google Analytics - A very powerful and feature rich traffic monitor. The amount of data it provides can be overwhelming, so we recommend a simpler traffic monitor for getting started.

Google Analytics

Quantcast is a free website that tracks visitors and detailed demographics information and is an excellent way to spy on the competition. Quantcast only has data for websites that get a fair amount of traffic.

Quantcast website traffic data

Click here to see the Quantcast website traffic data
for our website




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