February 26, 2012

Server Logs confusion

Recently a client was talking to me about his hosting company's stats on his website. Here was our correspondence.
ed- hi,
fat cow sent me my visitor stats for february- so far this month, 1,805 visits, 25,590 hits..thats the most for any month since august 2011.
my response -
Frankly I don't believe those numbers, and do not  use fat cow for quant stuff.
According to Google Analytics ( you can go to them via logging into google.com/analytics
and view the dashboard) and see better and truer numbers. You will see the dashboard report when it is emailed...
You can get over 200 different reports this way.In the case of hosting companies numbers - i think they are using server logs
and can confuse people easily that way because they don't track individuals who come to the site, they track the number of requests
that go to a browser.For example every time a browser goes to a fat cow domain the server logs are written, even if they are search engines themselves
so there is a huge number of erroneous "visits" or "hits" made this way. Server logs do not distinguish between real visits and search engines
crawling the domains...

In the case of a web page that has several graphics it also can make a lot of requests to the browser to go out and get those images
for example, so even though one page loads, it will show several "hits" which really is not what you want.
Lots of times i will see a hit counter on a site and know for certain those people do not know what they are doing, because unless they are
acquiring data real time for real people and not the erroneous numbers described above, it is a falsehood.

You want real numbers as shown below...(graphic omitted here for privacy- ed)
If you want to see better numbers than get cracking and write more posts in those forums, or create new pages and write more stuff there, or
invite others to write new posts and pages or invite moderators or something that acquires writers. Also backlinks are important, that is links from
other sites that will drive traffic to your site, but until they have something to read there probably not yet...
The search engines will index the pages using the titles of the pages and the headings of the posts, along with the content you write, and will drive traffic
to your site...
Like i said before though, you won't be getting traffic until that really happens, and not to concern yourself with traffic until there is substance for
people to read.
Content is King.

Edward worked at Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory in the hills of Berkeley Ca in the 70's, where the current internet backbone was being developed. He consulted scientists and programmed in fortran, cobol, pascal, C, and Oracle and Informix 4gl's. He worked corporate in the city as a freelancer for 12 years. Higher Source Web Sites started developing web sites in 2001, while in the real estate business. He started blogging and developing sites for his colleagues and his company, then other Real Estate companies. His background in business programming, database administration, & software development made staying within the soft technologies more appealing than other choices. He lives in Santa Rosa Ca with his wife Pam and runs a beagle rescue with Pam, teaches chess, and loves music and cinema.

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