May 13, 2008

Blogging Tip #1: Collecting Traffic Data

Remember hit counters? Back when the web was in its infancy, virtually every site had a numerical hit counter proudly displayed to track incoming hits. They did little else. Fast forward to the present, and webmasters and bloggers now talk of "traffic" or "metrics" instead of simple hits. Now we monitor things like what browser our readers are using, what countries they come from, what times of day our traffic peaks, and more. Whether you just started your blog or have been at it for awhile, it is never too late to adopt more sophisticated methods of collecting traffic data.

When I started this blog, I used StatCounter. It worked well but did not provide all the data I wanted. I soon moved to the basic (and free) version of Sitemeter. In fact, I still use Sitemeter because it is necessary for the TTLB Ecosystem (a topic for another post). Sitemeter provides a great deal of useful information, and is certainly worth a look, even though it is no longer my primary source of data.

What I use now and what I recommend you look into is Google Analytics. This free service provides an astounding amount of information, allowing bloggers to do far more than simply track hits. You can learn quite a bit about your visitors and how they interact with your blog using Google Analytics. I am confident that I have not even come close to utilizing the full potential of this service, but that it what is so nice about it - it gives you all the basics plus room to grow in how you use it.

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