You should really be tracking the amount of traffic your website receives. At the end of the day, website rankings don’t mean anything if you’re not getting people to see the products and services you offer on your site. You could have first place rankings with SEO, but are people buying from you? It’s important to know how many people are coming to your site; it influences your bottom line.
Simply put, there are two types of traffic analysis tools out there: the ones that read server logs and those that tag your web pages and track traffic by using a program on another server. In the first example, the tool analyzes log files that were created by the web server - the server tweaks the file information each time it receives a new request. The second example is more common, and it’s what we use at Noggin. It consists of a little piece of code that needs to be placed on each of your web pages - each time a page from your site is requested, the program is catalogs the information.
Most web hosts already have traffic-analysis tools installed on your site, and you can ask them how to view the log if you can’t find the data. Otherwise, we suggest using a tag-based traffic-analysis tool - Google Analytics - to interpret everything that occurs on your site. Most of these tag-based tools are free to use and easy to implement.
Tag-based analysis tools show you all sorts of fascinating (and mostly indigestible) information. But, some of the most important things to pay attention to are:
- How many people are coming to your site, and from where?
- Which sites and sending the most visitors to your site. Facebook? Twitter?
- Which search engines are sending visitors to your site. Google? Bing?
- What keywords are people using to reach your site?
- What geographic areas are visiting your site? St. Louis? Kansas City?
Perhaps the most important of these finds are the keywords. Keywords are extremely important in website optimization, and you might find that people are reaching your site with keywords that you haven’t imagines. Or, maybe it’s an unusual combination of keywords. You shouldn’t replace this with a real keyword research or analysis because you only see the keywords used by people who found you, not vise-versa.