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Analyzing Web Traffic

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Measuring Web traffic, Part 1



Why Web metrics are important

Methods of data collection within a Web environment

Web metrics delivery methods -- in-house product and service providers

I've got all this data . . . now what?!


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Measuring Web traffic, Part 2

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Getting to know your audience is the key to online success -- make the numbers work for you

Andrei Malacinski (, IBM Application Integration Middleware Lab

Scott Dominick (, IBM Application Integration Middleware Lab

Tom Hartrick (, IBM Application Integration Middleware Lab

March 2001

The best way to know whether your Web site is achieving its goals is to gather extensive traffic data -- not just how many hits you're getting, but which pages are popular, who's visiting your site, when do they visit, and a host of other data that can give you a clearer idea of what's going on. In this article, Scott, Tom, and Andrei introduce you to the benefits of measuring Web traffic, exploring the importance of Web metrics, and describing various approaches of collecting Web data. They also show you how to choose whether to tackle this effort in-house or turn to an application service provider. Finally, they tell you how to make use of this data once it's been collected.


"How many hits is my Web site getting?" "How many visitors are going to my site?" "What pages are people looking at?" "Where are my Web customers coming from?" "Are my links broken?" Do you find yourself asking these questions? Are you finding that it is becoming more and more important to measure the traffic on your Web site? Do you find yourself asking "How do I go about measuring the usage traffic on my site?" and "What information can I get?"

This article answers these questions and more. There are several Web measurement approaches that have been adopted by the industry, such as network monitors, single-pixel solutions, and HTTP server log analysis. We begin this article with a discussion of why Web metrics are important and then provide an introduction to the various types of Web measurement approaches with site traffic metrics obtainable with these approaches. When choosing a Web measurement approach, decisions have to be made about the technology to employ, its cost, its setup, and coordinating it with existing enterprise data. This article looks at these and other decisions related to collecting Web measurements.

We provide an introduction to measuring Web traffic that includes a brief description of various Web measurement approaches. This article and its follow-on, "HTTP server log analysis approach," are designed for Web site developers, those in IT who deploy Web sites, company executives interested in site performance, and anyone who wants to know more about Web site tracking capabilities and techniques currently available in the industry. The subject matter is technical, but it does not require any prerequisite skills or experience to be comprehended.

Why Web metrics are important

The power of the Web is astounding. As an extension of other sources, or perhaps as the only source, the informational, operational, and marketing aspects of Web media are potent. Having a Web presence is not sufficient, though. e-businesses must exploit the latest technology and evolve more quickly than their conventional competitors and customers or risk getting left behind. Recognizing that Web site behavior has a direct effect on business success and customer loyalty, companies are now required to better understand their users so that their sites are responsive, easy to navigate, and present what the users are interested in purchasing. However, many e-businesses have little or no idea what customers and potential customers are doing on their Web sites. Web sites that are slow to respond and contain hard-to-find items will drive away customers. To justify Web site changes, though, using the right quantitative and qualitative information is essential in optimizing a site, which means there is a growing need for new tools that analyze Web site effectiveness -- that form of analysis is known as Web analytics.

Consider this scenario: If a Web site is promoting a sale through advertisement that is valid for only one day, the Web site owner might want to know if the campaign was successful. One indicator would be whether the campaign generated additional site traffic. The following Web metrics chart can help illustrate whether or not the campaign was successful in generating increased Web traffic on the day of the promotion.

Web analytics is the monitoring and reporting of Web site usage so that there is a better understanding of the interactions between Web visitor actions and what the Web site offers, as well as leveraging that insight to optimize the site for increased customer loyalty and business benefits. Web analytics can assist with the following tasks:

planning Web infrastructure capacity to handle future growth;

understanding qualities of new and repeat visitors;

targeting offers and campaigns to categories of visitors;

determining appropriate investment in online advertising campaigns versus other channels;

identifying which e-business partners to work with based on generated referral traffic and realized



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