Jim's Message Board
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Re: Website statistics
From Max on 29 September '98
adding to Website statistics posted by Stephan Snoek

>Can anyone please share information on his/her experience with website statistics programs.
(You know those programs that mesure the amount of traffic on your site.) I would like to
know wich programs are out there, wich are good and wich I should avoid.

If you have access to your ISPs access logs (ask them about getting copies) you can run any number of
free or cheap shareware programs that can break your traffic out into page visited, ISP the visitor
is browsing from, page the visitor was last reading (sometimes), etc.

Otherwise, you have to load your pages up with little images that link to another site. Every time the
link is activated, the other site logs whose page the link was on ... while this is interesting, it isn't
quite as reliable as your own servers logs.

At best, these programs (and even the log files) are only approximate because of something called "caching".
There are caches of pages stored all over the internet. For example, AOL uses caching. they can make ONE request
over the internet, and save a copy of that page. The next person to look at the page will get a copy from the
cache and NOT from the real website.
This tends to skew the traffic counts downward, and the more populat a page is, the more likely it is to be
cached and the less accurate the counts will be.

After months and months of running these things, I found the most useful report is the one for the
"404" errors because it lets me track bad links. Second most useful is the graphics requests, to spot
parasites.


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