Web Stats - What Does It Mean?

Jan 03rd, 2012

Now that you have a website up, you want to know how popular your website really is! You can enable stats in the Account Manager for all of your website hosting accounts, then visit your custom stats page to see what is going on when people head to your website.

We use Webalizer stats tracker to output the details of your website activity, and the stats page is generally updated every morning for the previous day. When you visit your stats page, you will see an overview of each months statistics. If you click an individual month, you will get more detailed information about that specific month.

Within the monthly view, there are many stats recorded and displayed, some of which may be confusing. Here, we will break down the individual stats displayed so you can better understand what they mean.

The first stat is HITS which is any request made to the server that is logged. These requests can be for anything, including html pages, graphics images, audio files, CGI scripts, etc. Each valid line in the server log is counted as a hit. This number represents the total number of requests that were made to the server during the specified report period.

The second stat listed is the FILES stat. Some requests made to the server require that the server then send something back to the requesting client, such as an html page or graphic image. When this happens, it is considered a 'file' and the files total is incremented. The relationship between 'hits' and 'files' can be thought of as 'incoming requests' and 'outgoing responses'.

The next stat listed is the PAGES stat. Generally, any html or php document, or anything that generates an html document, would be considered a page. This does not include the other items that go into a document, such as graphic images, audio clips, etc. This number represents the number of 'pages' requested only, and does not include the other features that are in the page. This stat is sometimes referred to as 'Pageviews' in other stats reporters.

Each request made to the server comes from a unique SITE, which can be referenced by a name or IP address. The 'sites' number shows how many unique IP addresses made requests to the server during the reporting time period. This does not mean the number of unique individual users (real people) that visited, which is impossible to determine using just logs.

Whenever a request is made to the server from a gien IP address, or website, the amount of time since a previous request by the address is calculated. If the time difference is greater than a pre-configured 'visit timeout' value, or has never made a request before, it is considered a 'new visit' and the VISITS stat total is incremented both for the site, and the IP address.

The KBytes, or kilobytes, value shows the amount of data, in KB, that was sent out by the server during the specified reporting period. This value is generated directly from the log file and is a fairly accurate representation of the amount of outgoing traffic the server had.

The Top Entry and Exit tables give a rough estimate of what URL's are used to enter your site, and what the last pages viewed are. Because of some limitations, this number should be considered a rough estimate, and will give a good indication of the overall trend in where users come into, and exit, your website.

The REFERRERS stat is much harder to analyze than a typical URL. What is contained in the referrer field of your log files varies depending on many factors, such as what site did the referral, what type of system it comes from, and how the actual referral was generated. This is a reflection of how a user got to your website, which may have been from a bookmark in their browser, they may simply type your websites URL into their browser, they could have clicked on a link on some remote web page, or they may have found your website from one of the many search engines and site indexes found on the web.

The SEARCH STRING stat is a good indication of what users were searching for when they found your website. The Webalizer will do a minimal analysis on referrer strings that it finds, looking for well known search string patterns.

Being able to read and understand the stats reported about your website will help you to know what is working, and what needs help.