This is the archived version of edition 2 of the Good Web Hosting Info (GWHI) Newsletter, published Jan 14/2004.

Todays content :

  1. Visitor statistics
    1. 3 server applications
    2. 2 desktop applications
    3. 2 3rd party trackers
  2. 2 - Overselling web hosts

Visitor statistics

To know how well your website is doing you need to have access to detailed statistics about your visitors. Does your web host provide you with good, detailed statistics?

With good visitor statistics you will learn how your visitors find your website and what they do once they get there. With this knowledge it will be easier to see strengths and weaknesses in your website and marketing efforts.

A list of things to look for in a statistics package :

  • Number of visitors/page views
  • Views per page
  • Entry/exit pages
  • Visitor paths
  • Referring urls
  • Spider visits
  • Search engine phrases
  • Error pages

1.1 - 3 server applications

Analog, Webalizer and Awstats are applications that are installed on the web server, and generates statistics from your servers log file. At least one of them is installed on most web servers, and all of them are completely free. You can also install them on your own computer if you like, and download log files from your web server for analysis.

Analog is a well-tested program that is installed on most web servers and provides basic statistics about number of hits and pageviews, user agents and search words. Visit http://www.analog.cx to learn more.

Webalizer is also very common and provides statistics similar to Analog but with a more colourful appearance. Unfortunately, Webalizer development seems to have stopped, and there are certainly improvements that can be made. Visit http://www.mrunix.net/webalizer/ for more.

Awstats is an application still undergoing active development, and the statistics it produces are superior to Analog and Webalizer. It has a better user interface and charts and tables that are easier to understand. Other benefits are that it reports search engine spider activity and both search words and the exact phrases people are using to find your website. Visit http://awstats.sourceforge.net for details.

The conclusion is that Awstats is the best of these three. It produces better, more detailed statistics in a user friendly interface. Unfortunately it is not a standard feature in most web hosting plans, partly because it is quite new and partly because it uses more server resources that Analog and Webalizer.

If you need a web host with Awstats, you can do like me and host with Akashik. Good Web Hosting Info has been hosted with them since june 2003 and I haven't I haven't noticed any downtime so far. The support is also fast and helpful. http://www.goodwebhosting.info/links.php?host=akashik

1.2 - 2 desktop applications

There are also desktop applications for analyzing your website's visitors. They are commercial, but they produce better statistics than the server applications mentioned above.

123LogAnalyzer is a log analyzer is the name says, so you need to download your log files to your computer. It is also possible to set up 123LogAnalyzer to download them automatically. Once they log files are downloaded, start up 123LogAnalyzer and select which log files you want to analyze. You can analyze several log files at once which I think is a really nice feature because I can download monthly, compressed log files from my websites control panel and then analyze them all at once.

123LogAnalyzer also opens the compressed files on the fly, so it's real easy to use. The many detailed reports can be configured via the graphical user interface. You also add filters for more specialized reports. GUI versions are available for Windows and Mac, command line versions for Linux/Unix.

The price is $129 (depending on licensing option). Take the 25-day free trial to see if you think it's worth it. http://www.goodwebhosting.info/links.php?site=123loganalyzer

VisitorVille offers the most graphical statistics you have never seen before. Add a tracking code to your pages, and you can see your visitors arriving in buses (referrers) and moving from house to house (page to page). The visitors are dressed up according to their personality and you can check out their passports for full details.

This is not only a useful tool for observing visitor flow, you also get all the reports you want, like sales conversions, search phrases for individual search engines and the performance of each page. VisitorVille is only available for Windows.

A monthly subscription costs $9.95 and up depending on how busy your website is. There is no free trial, but there is a 30 day money back guarantee. Use the coupon code GWHI when you install VisitorVille and you get a nice 10% discount. http://www.goodwebhosting.info/links.php?site=visitorville

1.3 - 2 3rd party trackers

An easy solution is to add a 3rd party tracker to your website. Just paste the tracking code into your web pages, and you can log in anytime to watch your statistics.

SiteMeter is available in a free and a paid version. The paid version has more detailed statistics, invisible tracker and no ads in your account area. The free version includes basic statistics about your lates visitors, traffic summary, visitors/page view history and some statistics on browsers, time zones etc. The paid version ($6.95/month) adds more information on referrers and export options.
http://www.sitemeter.com

The invisible IndexTools tracker offers very detailed visitor statistics. You can view navigation paths for each visitor, search phrases for each search engine and track campaigns for PPC engine. Everthing is presented in a nice user interface. Compared to Sitemeter, it offers more reports and details, but comes at a higher price. The free version is limited to 15 days and a subscription starts at $19.95/month. http://www.goodwebhosting.info/links.php?site=indextools

2 Overselling web hosts

It seems to me that more and more web hosting providers are offering cheap plans with enourmous amounts of disk space and data transfer. And the plans are growing. F.ex. Lunarpages recently increased their disk quotas from 500mb/800mb disk space to 800mb/1200mb in their $7.95/$22.95/month* plans , which is not extreme in the overselling game. Other hosts have disk quotas in gigabytes in plans with prices around $10 to $20 in addition to data transfer quotas over 50 gigabytes/month. http://www.goodwebhosting.info/links.php?host=lunarpages

*These prices are with yearly contracts.

Here is why overselling web hosts have success

  1. It sells.
  2. People get a good deal.
  3. More stability in the existing customer base because they sign up for a year at a time (at a discount -> even better deal).
  4. Most people does not use the resources they have bought.
  5. Important features might be missing from the cheapest accounts (databases, multiple domains...), so people need a more expensive account than the size of their website(s) predicts.

And a few good reasons to find something more moderate :

  1. You don't need x hundred mb disk space.
  2. You dont need many gb data transfer.
  3. You can set up a database driven website and use most of your disk space and data transfer without getting your account suspended or having to upgrade to a better plan.
  4. Higher profit margins means money for more and better support personnel.
  5. Better economy for the web host means more stability.

Most websites will do fine on 25 mb disk space and 1 gb data transfer. Good Web Hosting Info is hosted on the Akashik Mini Plan (100mb disk space/5gb data transfer) and I am far away from the limits. http://www.goodwebhosting.info/links.php?host=akashik

That's it for this issue.
Hope you enjoyed the newletter!

This is the archived version of edition 2 of the Good Web Hosting Info (GWHI) Newsletter, published Jan 14/2004.