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Starting an Online Business All-in-One For Dummies®, 3rd Edition by Joel Elad, Shannon Belew

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Jam Packed: Traffic Analysis Software

After you get your Web site up and running, you can expect your log file to generate massive amounts of data as it records every interaction between your visitors and your Web server. As the number of visitors grows, so does the number of lines in your log file. It eventually grows to the point that you can't manually analyze the information to get your statistics. At that point, traffic analysis software enters the picture (such as Google Analytics, which you can find at www.google.com/analytics).

Traffic analysis software breaks apart all the log files generated by your Web server to build a summary of your Web site traffic criteria. These software programs

  • Break apart each log file entry
  • Group together similar entries
  • Factor out known entries, such as search engine bot programs
  • Calculate totals and averages

You can choose from different versions and levels of traffic analysis software: basic, detailed, and enterprise or big business.

Basic analysis software

When you're using a basic analysis tool, you're looking for a program to create summaries of traffic information for a given period. Some tools, such as Urchin (www.google.com/urchin), run on a self-hosted servers. Others, for example, Webalizer (www.webalizer.com), or Mach5 FastStats Log Analyzer (www.mach5.com), present data in both columnar and graphical format for easy viewing.

Here are some statistics that every program should produce or estimate:

  • Total number of visitors and ...

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