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Let's start peeking inside your "black box" by studying your traffic...

Traffic, of course, is your lifeblood. You need the means to do some "blood tests" to determine your site's health.

Unfortunately, all the traffic analysis packages out there are written by techies... For techies. They give you so much data... just because they can! But all you need to know is... what you need to know! You need information, not reams of useless data.

The key to traffic analysis is to simplify. Forget the 150 different ways that traffic-analyzing software slices and dices hits, visits, pages, page views, and visitors. You simply don't need to know how many left-handed Norwegians visit your site between 3-4 AM on Sundays.

So let's prune away all the useless data, and just keep the "need to know" information...

First, the big picture...

All traffic-reporting software packages cover the basics... average number of visits, visitors, and pages viewed per day, as well as the totals on a per-month basis. Here's what those terms mean...

Visits -- the number of visits to your site

• Visitors -- the number of different people who visit your site (ex., a visitor could account for 10 visits)

• Page Views -- the number of pages viewed by all the visitors during all the visits. A single visitor might view only one page... or twenty.

You have a question?

"What about hits? Everyone talks about hits!"

Great question! Short answer... forget hits. A hit is simply a line in your site's log file. If a page has 3 graphics on it, that's 4 hits (1 for the html page itself, plus 3 for the graphics). But if that same page has 100 graphics on it, that's 101 hits!

See why the number of hits is a useless stat?

"Yes, but why does everyone quote hits, then?"

Two reasons... either they don't understand the term, or they understand it and use hits because it sounds bigger! In any event, "hits" is a useless thing to measure.

By comparing your monthly "big picture" data, you should be able to see steady growth in your site's overall traffic. If not, the "patient" needs a good dose of traffic-building medicine (luckily, that medicine is nearby... just above, actually!). Ongoing traffic-building is a good idea even if traffic is building nicely -- you can never have too much!

Now that you have the big picture, it's time to delve inside and pull out some important information...

• Daily statistics -- visits, visitors and page views must be reported on a day-by-day basis, in both absolute terms and as a percentage of the total

(ex., percent of total visitors). If you do a special traffic promotion on a certain day (ex., run an ad in an e-zine), this is an easy way to gauge the response.

• Most popular pages -- your page view stats must be delivered on a per-page basis, with the page generating the most page views reported first. By understanding which pages are most popular, you understand better the needs of your visitors. Correlate this with your link-tracking data (more on this below) to make sure that your most popular pages "get the click" to your income-generating programs. Also, use this data to get a better feel for what your market wants... and, just as important, what it does not want.

• Most popular entry pages -- same as the previous section, except that this specifically tells you which pages are the most popular "entry" pages. A page counts as an entry page when it starts a visit. Correlate this with how people find you (referrers and keywords, discussed just below), and you have a wealth of insight into how your site is being discovered, and what people want. Use these conclusions to give you ideas for other related, profitable areas for content development.

• Most frequent exit pages -- these are the pages from which people leave your site. Some people look upon high numbers for a given page as "bad." But you have to correlate this with other data... If a "high entry" page is also a "high exit" page, that's not really a surprise. If a "high exit" page is also generating tons of links out to your income-generating programs for you, that's not so bad either, is it?

• Referrer URLs -- this tells you where your traffic is coming from... Search Engines, other Web sites from link exchanges, etc., etc. Extremely useful info!

Keyword search -- which keywords are people entering into engines to find you? That's what this super-valuable data tells you!

Taken together, referrer page and keyword search data tell you where and how your visitors find you, which gives you a base to build even more traffic-building ideas!

As you can see, traffic analysis is actually a pretty simple task... when you know what you're looking for, and how to turn data into information.

Site Build It! provides you with exactly these traffic stats. No need to install or configure any software. Or to figure out what's important. It provides everything a good content site needs to know... with one simple click from you. Presented cleanly, in an easy-to-understand manner.

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