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August 10, 1998 Digest #401
~ Rod Aries
From: Rod Aries <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Re: Counters
Sorry folks, hit counters just don't cut it if you really want to create an Internet business...
Log analysis is a method for determining 10-30 variables about each of your visitors, allowing you to understand your ACTUAL visitor, not your ANTICIPATED visitor. You will be surprised at how different these two visitors really are, and how this can lead to even more visitors to your site.
While the number of hits, unique visitors, unique page views, hits, repeat visitors et. al. is important and interesting, I have found that by looking at specific log traffic information (i.e. how and why people got to my Internet sites via the search engines etc.) to be as valuable, if not far more valuable than the body count of the number of hits.
Under log analysis, the number of visitors is a post-effort analysis and a by-product of how your page is designed. Using "how and why people got to your Internet site" as feedback allows you to structure your site according to how users are searching for your site, and also provides insight into what people are really looking for by the way they structure their keyword searches.
For the past 10 months, I have reviewed my logs manually. I became fascinated with how people found my site. As my first Internet site grew I also began to search for software that could do what I had been doing manually, by examining each line of my log.
So what is the most valuable report you can have? It is what keywords your visitor looked up to find you! In example, I can take the following user generated search, see the terms used (i.e., discount phone rates) and see where it ranks in the search engine (Infoseek):
Of all the techniques discussed on search engine optimization, meta-jacking, keyword frequency, content relevancy, keyword penetration...this simple technique of replicating user search terms has resulted in the greatest knowledge as to what works and what doesn't. I have added 5,000+ unique page views a month by just seeing how people come to my site, and who ranked ahead of me.
Here is an example of how to read your logs and alter your page to meet your audience's expectation, not yours. Say you offer life insurance for individuals, but not for a company.
You have a phrase in the body of your page that states, "Life insurance is the 'key' to providing protection to your family." You check your logs and find someone entered "life insurance key man" because they were looking for business life insurance. You don't have "key man" as a word, but they found you any way because of 'key' and 'insurance.' Before too long you start to see, quite a few 'key man' searches. And you see on this page that the visitor comes, doesn't see what he wants, then goes.
The question becomes, do you offer "key man" insurance (if you can) if you continue to receive visitors with searches containing this combination?
It is not what you are offering, it is what they want. Find out how they are arriving at your site, make it easier for them to find you, and your visits will go up.
At your service,
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