Web Traffic Statistics Reports - FAQ
When you access a Web page, you are actually sending a "GET" request to a Web server to download that page (including graphics) to your computer. When the server sends the page to your computer, it keeps an access log file of these GET requests, including information such as:
Typically, on a nightly basis, a statistical report application is run against the raw access logs. The statistical report gathers the information and presents it in an organized and readable report format.
The statistical report actually tracks how many "page views" (as described above) you get on your Web site. The Web server typically does not know how many users come to your web site. Here's why: After the Web server sends you a Web page of information, the server computer typically breaks the connection with you. Then when you request a second Web page from that computer, you establish another quick connection, in which it again sends you a web page and breaks the connection. Unless there is special software on the Web server (e.g., cgi script or cookies), the log files cannot know for sure that it is the same person.
3) If a users starts on my home page, clicks to a sub-page, then returns to my home page, is that counted as one or two page-views to my home page?
This is a very important distinction. When a page is requested from the server, it may contain, for example, four images. When this occurs, the access log will record five "hits" - one for the HTML Web page and four for the four images. However, when you wish to track your statistics, you will typically not be interested in the number of images that are requested. In this case, you will wish to know the page views. Make sure that you're Web hosting organization is able to supply you with "page views" and not just "hits"
Yes, this information is typically found in a "referrer" section of the report. This is very valuable information, as it tells you which Web sites are sending traffic to your Web site. If you are paying another Web site to promote your Web site, then this information is invaluable, because it provides the basis for letting you decide whether your advertising dollars are being well spent.
6) Can the reports tell me the demographics (e.g., sex or age) of people who come to my Web site?
No. The Web statistics reports summarize information found in the Web
servers access logs. Access logs do not collect this kind of information.
Typically this kind of information is collected by a user completing an
online form and voluntarily supplying this kind of information.