Web Analytics 101

Aug 22 07

Web Analytics 101

Paul Weinstein

In a previous post about creating a zoomshare site I discussed a bit about promotion. The thing about promotion, about anything really, is that one needs some short of ruler to measure against to know if, in this case the promotion of a zoomshare site, one is successful.

Maybe my audience isn’t on Digg? Maybe it can be found via StumbleUpon? How does one know if one has found their audience if one doesn’t know who is visiting? In the comments of my original post Deb asked about a zoomshare hit counter. My answer?

Deb a hit counter widget is in the works, but at the moment I can’t offer a specific release date for it. I do want to point out that a ‘hit counter’ will only give one so much information. I talk about ‘visits’ and ‘visitors’ with a specific intent. In the world of web analytics, a ‘visitor’ is a combination of hits, time and network location. In other words there is a formal system, with defined terms – hits, page views, visitors et al – in use here. I’ll be post more about web analytics later, but for now I can only point out that in lieu of a hit counter if your really interested in knowing who’s visiting your site, when and where, you might want to consider upgrading your Zoomshare site to gain access to our ‘stats’ tool (Sorry, I know that sounds like a sales pitch).

Ok, so what is web analytics? As I alluded to in my answer to Deb this formal study has some defined terminology and metrics in order to bring about an understanding of web traffic. While the definition for these terms are pretty static, in my option, different tools can provide a variety of answers depending on interpretation. For example, is it a new visit from the same computer 30 minutes after the last request or 60?

In any case here’s a quick run down on the most commonly used terms:

  • Hit: A request for a file, a file maybe a HTML file, JPEG file or some other item. In other words a hit is usually a logged request from an item that resides on the server’s filesystem.
  • Page View: A collection of hits, a browser’s request for a file, that result in a web page being rendered in total. Thus several hits on a site can translate into one page view.
  • Visit or Session: One or more page views from the same computer over a set time period.

So what does this all mean? Well I suppose it depends on one’s degree of interest, but if you ask me, and at least one person did, it’s about understanding what on your website, zoomshare hosted or no, works and doesn’t work. I suppose, as with googling one’s name, its also an interesting ego check.