Thursday, November 23, 2006

Web Site Metrics and Measuring Traffic

An important component of SEO is getting a handle on web site metrics and measuring traffic. This is not as easy as it sounds, because a great many competing terms are used, and data is not always reliable.

From an SEO perspective, you need to establish a plan for measuring traffic so that you can find out objectively which SEO measures have succeeded.

How much traffic do you aspire to? Another important question, because SEO approaches will differ depending on whether you want to generate tons of general broad traffic, or if you are targeting a narrow (but significant) niche.

A good (and reasonably objective) source of information and metrics about general and high-trafficked sites is Alexa.

Alexa


On the Alexa site, you can click the Traffic rankings tab to see an ordered list of the top 500 Sites updated daily. The Movers and Shakers list is also interesting. It is a snapshot of the "right here and now" on the Web, and is useful for aligning your SEO efforts with Web-wide trends in real time.

It is worth spending time learning about popularity on the Web if you want to build successful sites. Alexa provides the tools you can use to see for yourself what is trafficked, and what is gaining or losing among top-ranked sites.

You can also use Alexa to see traffic statistics for sites that are not in the top 500. For almost any site that has been around a while, Alexa will give you an idea of traffic statistics, and whether it is gaining or losing traffic.

Alexa lets you enter descriptive information about your web site, which others can see if they check your site traffic using Alexa. You can also make sure that Alexa provides a snapshot of your home page along with its statistics. Since this service is free, it is certainly worth entering a site description and monitoring your Alexagarnered statistics.

Alexa works by collating results from users throughout the Web who have installed the special Alexa Toolbar. (If you'd like, you can install the Alexa Toolbar and help with popularity statistics.) There's some question about the statistical validity of Alexa for less-trafficked sites because of this method of gathering dataAlexa's results are probably skewed towards users who are already web savvy and heavy users.

Most likely, Alexa's results are not very meaningful for sites that are ranked below 100,000 in popularity (very roughly, with fewer than 10,000 visitors per week).

Measuring Traffic


The metrics of web site traffic is a huge topic just by itself, and goes way beyond Alexa. There are a number of books just about web metricsif you are interested in this topic, you might want to check out Jim Sterne's Web Metrics: Proven Methods for Measuring Web Site Success (http://www.wiley.com/WileyCDA/WileyTitle/productCd-0471450502.html), which is comprehensive and excellent, if a little dated. You can also take a look at the "Tracking and Logging" thread on WebMasterWorld, http://www.webmasterworld.com.

There is also, of course, quite a bit of software designed simply to help webmasters gather and understand the metrics of their sites. Also, your web server's logs contain a great deal of traffic information that can help provide you with useful metrics.

Measuring traffic is a very important topic: to optimize your site you need to have baseline information, as well as feedback, so you can understand whether changes improve site trafficand to also see which elements in your site draw traffic.

3 comments:

proson said...

I know some tools which you can measure traffic like google-analytics. It is quite a useful free tool and easy to install.! But I don't really understand the "bounce rate", I know what it means, a user click on a page than the others to find some information. And I don't know how to deal with it if a web site has a high bounce rate say 75%. How to decrease it?
I don't know may be you can give me some idea!


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Martin said...

The journey of Alexa- The Web Information Company has never been a smooth one. Alexa that has been in the scenario almost from the start of the Web had seen immense growth and popularity and then a pretty morbid phase. However, it went back to the drawing board and sketched out new ways to pull back the company to steadiness. Several new innovations and changes have been made to Alexa since the time of its inception partly to stay in sync with the changing times and demands and partly to combat its competitors. As for example, till some time back the popularity of various websites was measured by the data collected from the users of the Alexa toolbar. However, the company went for a change in April 2008. Today other factors, apart from the Alexa toolbar, are also taken into account to determine the popularity and traffic of a given website. However, the point to ponder is that the “other sources” that are determinant of a websites Alexa rankings are not clearly cut out. They are vague and misty. Nevertheless, Alexa is still one of the most credible and powerful players of the web.

AlynuZZa said...

Hi! You should also consider www.estimix.com They provide a nice summary of the website performance. I trust that you’ll find this very useful cause it seems to use the Alexa traffic information quite well and provides much better traffic information.

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