How do we read the AWStats analytics reports you create?
- The section labeled "Summary" provides an overview of the traffic statistics for the month: The yellow column, "Number of visits", shows the total number of times a human visitor arrived on the website. Search engine spiders are not included. However, return visits by the same person are considered separate visits, which dilutes the value of the number. A more meaningful number is shown in the orange column, "Unique visitors", which counts a frequent visitor only once. The closer that this number is to the total number of visits, the lower the rate of people returning to the website. The blue column shows the total number of pages viewed. Dividing that number by the number of visits, gives you a rough idea as to how active visitors are on the website. The other values in that Summary section are only of interest if they begin getting close to any bandwidth limitation imposed by the Web hosting service.
- The "Monthly history" section is most valuable in showing trends from one month to the next.
- The "Days of month" section shows the individual values for each day of the month, and is most valuable in showing the effect of any online marketing campaigns.
- The section labeled "Robots/Spiders visitors" displays the top 25 web bots that have visited the website. (A web bot is any computer program that loads pages from a website; such bots include search engine spiders and "screen scrapers".) Generally, the leading search engine spiders — at least the ones willing to identify themselves — are those of Yahoo, Google, MSN, and Ask.com. They typically have no difficulty indexing a website, which means they examine all of the non-protected pages on the website, and store in their databases the keywords found. Many search engine spiders — for various reasons (and not all of them noble) — do not identify themselves, and thus are labeled "Unknown". Search engine companies choose to have their spiders revisit websites at different frequencies.
- The "Visits duration" section shows how much time visitors are spending on the website before leaving. The first line, "0s-30s", shows the number of visitors who left the website within half a minute. A large percentage does not necessarily imply a problem, because search engine spiders are usually quite fast in reading a website's contents and then moving on. However, a sizable percentage in the second line means that a large portion of the human visitors are abandoning the website within two minutes of finding it. This is usually a result of a lack of compelling content on the website.
- The section labeled "Connect to website from" shows the sources of incoming traffic. The first number indicates the amount of traffic from people's bookmarks, which largely consists of staff members working on the website, and also outsiders who had discovered the website in the past and liked it enough to save the address in their browser. Neither category is valuable as a source of fresh traffic. The second number indicates the amount of people who found the website using a search engine. The more, the better. The third number indicates the amount of people who arrived from external websites that have linked to the website (known as "backlinks"). A successful online marketing campaign aims to greatly increase this number, both in absolute terms and percentage-wise.
- The sections labeled "Search Keyphrases" and "Search Keywords" show the words and phrases most commonly used by people in search engines to find the website. Ideally, those new visitors should be using keywords specific to your field, and not your organization's name.