Many web hosts provide basic traffic statistics as part of your web hosting fee. These sites create logs on your site that hold the raw traffic data. They then employ packages such as Webalizer or Modlogan among others to present the data in user friendly graphic and tabular format.

These packages provide a fairly standard set of statistics:

* Daily and weekly hits, files, pages and visits
* Hourly traffic stats
* Top URLs in site (by hits)
* Top entry pages
* Top exit pages
* Top referring sites
* Top keyword search strings
* Top browsers used
* Top operating system of visitors
* Top countries of visitors

All this data is great, but it does not answer the questions, “How does a visitor move through my website?” How long does he/she take on my website? This is very important so you can understand if your site navigation plan is working.

Lets say that you have a particular sales page on your site that you want to move your visitor toward. How do you know if your planned pre-sell plan is working so the visitor will click on the link to the sales page? What you need is visitor path tracking.

Do you know how long a visitor is spending on you site? The standard stats will give you number of page views of each page, but how long is the visitor staying on each page? If the visitor is doing a “drive by viewing”, it does not do you much good. You want the visitor to stay and read your content.

You need a tool that can provide you with information that has more dimensions than the standard web hosting packages.

There are sites on the Net that can provide this information free. Use the search engines to find a few of them. A couple of example sites are addfreestats.com or statcounter.com.

The typical traffic analysis site (abbreviated TAS for the rest of this article) will track the activity on your site and give you extensive reports on how your site is being viewed. The stats that you get from it will be much more detailed than most of the basic stats from your web host.

To use the TAS, you establish an account on the TAS with a user name and password. Once you are signed on, you set up a project to monitor your website. You can set up multiple projects to monitor multiple sites.

The TAS generates a few lines of java script for you. You then copy and paste the script into each webpage on your site that you want to monitor. You can select an option on the TAS set up so there is nothing on your page to indicate that the script is there.

Each time the page loads, the script sends info to the TAS that goes into a database. When you want to see the info, you log on the TAS and check out how people are viewing your site.

Most of the traffic analysis sites have the ability or track the visitors path that will allow you to see exactly the sequence of pages that the visitor viewed and how he/she browsed you site. You can walk through your site with your visitor and make certain that you are managing them on your site.

This is a great tool. If you are building a website, I highly recommend that you install the small script on every page that you want to track.

I have posted an educational video to show how a typical traffic analysis site works.

http://www.boomer-ezine.com/Videos/V1I40Video/Click-to-Play.html

I encourage you to research the various sites that provide this service and include one in your plans for building your website