Many of us, developers or be an end user having a professional, corporate or personal website, do not really measure the success of hosting our websites online. I asked couple of my friends and few acquaintances who work for corporates about their mechanism and tools they use, if any, for measuring the success of their online presence. Many of them were clueless about existence and need of such a mechanism. For those of you, who are new to this side of the world and are interested to know about it, I am sure you will find these tips very useful in long run.
Purpose first! Why have an online presence? Well, everyone has certain purpose of having a website or go online because everyone else is going online. In general, there could be many reasons for having a website.
What people do on their website is not hard to imagine. Some sell products, offer free services, offer professional services, web hosting, application development and several other things.
What is measure of success? In simple terms, have you achieved your goals of having a website? Achieving your goals starts with visitors coming to your website. A website with no visitors is like a dead fish in the ocean.
One common expectation, I am sure you all will agree with, is that as many as visitors possible, should visit your website, keep coming back and even become loyal visitors. Without any visitors, your website is as good as a non-existent website. Let me ask you a simple question – Do you know how many visitors have visited your website in last one week or last one hour? If you do not have an answer, quite possible that you are not aware about several ways to find this information. Not only the number of visitors but also other vital information such as country they reside in, the browser they use, their browser’s version, how did they come to your site and a lot of other information that could be useful to you.
First things first! You should know that many of the hosting companies with whom we host our websites, offer visitor statistics from the control panel that we can use to manage the website. Ask them about it and I am sure they will point you to the right page and link in the control panel. If you are using CPanel to manage your hosted domain, look for Web/Ftp stats, click on it and then select AWStats. That’s it, select the month on top of the page or simply look at the current stats. Isn’t that cool? With this, you can know number of hits, pages which are viewed most, any errors and much more.
If your service provider’s control panel does not offer any such feature or if you do not have a control panel at all, alternative is to use a third party tool to track and see this information. One such tool is from Google and is called Google Analytics. The service is free and account setup is instant. After signing up, setup a new profile and enter your website site information, verify your site and then paste the tracking code in the pages of your website. If you are using a content management system, then pasting the tracking code in main page (example: index.php) will be enough.
Screenshot from Google Analytics – A screenshot of this website’s stats!
- Since you know which of your pages are not performing well, you can consider adding more content to them
- You can check the pages which are returning error messages to fix them
- Place Ads on pages which are performing well
- If your site caters to local crowd, you can check to see if your visitors are local
- You can check the websites which are referring to you including search engines
- Place ads on websites which are sending more traffic to your site
- Very accurately check how people are navigating your site and from which pages they go out of your site
- See the keywords through which search engines sent visitors to your site
I hope, you find this article useful. I welcome your comments and suggestion to help me improve and write more!