If you’re a blogger, then you will have set up some sort of web traffic analysis system for your blog. There are a slew of ways to do this, and each person has their own preferences. Today I’m going to share what I use and why it works for me. Let’s start with the basics first:
“Web Analytics” refers to the process by which you determine your website’s traffic count, popular pages, and referring sources. Without some sort of tool in place to measure this, you will have no idea how many people are coming to your site or where they found you. This is what helps you gauge your site’s popularity and gives you a tool for providing information to advertisers who are interested in working with you.
There is a lot of debate on this topic, so it really boils down to a personal preference. There are countless services out there, from free services like Google Analytics to pro tools like Omniture.com. Each tool uses its own metrics to determine web traffic, so there will be a variance (Sometimes significantly!) in the numbers you see from program to program. For my own sites, I use both Google Analytics and SiteMeter. I hear a lot of disdain for SiteMeter, but I personally like it for two important reasons. First, it’s the only free web analytics program that I have personally used that shows a report with links to each website that has referred a visitor here. (If you use a different free web traffic report that offers this function, please leave me the link in the comments as I’d be really curious to check it out!) This means that I can find out exactly where visitors are coming from, and has lead me to many mentions of my site that I would have otherwise missed. For example, reading my referring URL report recently lead me to a blog that had done a Spanish translation of my Howie D interview, and also gave me the heads-up that one of my reviews was linked to on Groupon. I find out useful information like this all the time and would really feel in the dark without it. The other benefit to this is that my SiteMeter report is public, so I can send the link to anyone who is interested in working with my website and they can see my traffic report for themselves. This gives them more detailed information than they would have otherwise and saves me having to send over screenshots in an email.
I’d love to hear feedback from other bloggers about the web analytics programs that you use. Do you utilize a business utility like Omniture, or do you use a free web tool like SiteMeter?