What is one of the most important aspects of hosting your own website? Tracking your website traffic of course. How else would you determine which of your web pages are more popular than others and what sources refer the most visitors? Not only do trackers tell you how many hits you get on your site, they also give you information such as IP address and location. This can be useful when advertising.
There are several types of trackers depending on the type of website you have and how experienced you are. The most difficult and outdated form of tracking is through Apache access_log. It is not user friendly at all. This is only accessible to those hosting a website through an Apache server. Tracking is accessed through the access_log file and is a text format of each request made from the server for your site. In order to access the file you have to contact your web host provider so they can guide you to the location of the file. Once you access this file you will find the file in ELF format or Executable and Linkable Format. You will be able to track the IP address of the visitor, date and time the person visited your site, what information the visitor requested, the HTTP status code and user agent.
Now on to the more current trackers. Google Analytics is a wonderful tool for combining advertising with tracking. You still get your basic statistics but your also using AdWords for advertising. AdWords gives you the ability to narrow your advertising to a certain region or location. Then when people visit your website from your own ad on Google, you can get the same information as the other trackers and find out if your advertising is working. Are you targeting the audience you hoped for? Is your ad attracting visitors? There is a lot you can do with GA.
Want to know how many people are subscribing to your RSS feed? FeedBurner is your best bet. However, this is not the only fabulous function of FeedBurner. It also tracks the number of hits on your website and includes tools to set up a subscribed email list. Webmasters used to pay for these services but are now available for free!
So take your pick and start tracking. Steer clear of hit counters. They do not give you any information other than how many people are visiting your site. Stick with one of the few suggestions above. You will see just how successful your site is, or isn’t, in no time!