Usually at the end of each month, I check the statistics for my sites for the previous month. My host has several tools for doing this, but my favorite is AWStats because it is always neat and clean.
I do this for several reasons. The relatively simple use of seeing how many visitors I had the previous month, and the nowadays-almost-useless "hits" statistic. I say almost useless because as I'm aware, search spiders and other automatic traffic can trip that as well, making those slightly inaccurate. I usually pay more attention to a different statistic for that, "Unique Visitors". For a comparison, I had 771 unique visitors and 6249 hits last month, compared to 1272 unique visitors and 6976 hits in October. More individual visitors in October, 64% higher than November , but the actual hits is only a 11% difference in October compared to November.
What I keep an eye on more, though, is traffic, and more specifically, traffic anomalies. I first discovered both the comment spam and referral spam that plagued the AnacondaSoftware DevBlog not on the blog itself but in statistics, with sudden exploding in strange referrals from spam link farms. I also found the sudden rampant hotlinking of my forum avatars using up large amounts of bandwidth this way, which led me to implementing hotlink protection to that portion of AnacondaSoftware. Even with this blog too, the logs are filled with links referred by all sorts of weird sites, but with the forethought from experience with Pivot on the AnacondaSoftware DevBlog I knew what steps to take to prevent it from becoming an actual spam haven at setup, so it is somewhat hardened. It also lets me see what pages are accessed the most, so I can see what is being targeted, and if a hole did exist that was being exploited by a lot of things I'd see where the traffic was going to look into it. For references sake, the most hit pages were of course the main scripts of the system: the entry page script, the comment submission script (which appears to have gotten hit 1276 times, spam blocked almost every single time), and the index page, in that order. The highest accessed archive pages was near the beginning of the blog, Week 22, followed by a month later in Week 26.
I can also see what Operating Systems and browsers access the site, and the percentage breakdowns of those. But what I like watching the most is search keyphrases passed by the search engines as part of the referral data. Most often, on this site as I've noticed, it's predominantly linked by results related to the most recent entries. On AnacondaSoftware its more random, as all sorts of links can be referred based on the vast selection of terms on the forum, but here it seems to be more relevant to what I've recently talked about. The most frequent search results from last month are, in order, .hack (limited to this site specifically), and StrafeRight.
But the oddest one from last month is a little strange, and I'm not sure whether the context of the search was meant to be a compliment, a insult, or what. That result was "the anaconda lol".
Date posted: 12 December, 2007 Tags: anacondasoftware internet website_design
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