How can I track visitors to my Web page?
I don't have a blog, I don't have a fancy Web site and I don't have a profile on MySpace or Facebook, but I do get people coming to my simple little four-page Web site and I'd like to learn more about them. My sister says I want to run some "analytics" program, but I'm clueless. I can edit HTML, but what do I add?
You are right to be thinking of this stuff. Without some sort of decent analytics it's just about impossible to know who is coming to your site and what they do once they get there. Add one of a number of different free packages, however, and you can extract a surprising amount of information by just poking around when you have the time.
So there are a lot of different analytic programs on the market, but what I like is Google Analytics. It's free, it's powerful and it's fast enough loading that there's no performance penalty for your visitors (a big issue in my book). You can sign up for free, but you probably already have a Google account so it's even easier. Find out, go to Google Analytics and sign in / sign up.
Here's what it looks like when you "create new profile":
Once that's done, you'll be given a couple of lines of HTML to add to your pages:
Literally, that's all you have to do. Copy what's in that box on your own Google Analytics page and then paste it between the </body> and </html> tags at the very bottom of your Web pages that you want tracked (basically all of them).
Now wait until there's some traffic and you can go back to Google Analytics and see reports like these (these are for my film blog Dave On Film.com, btw):
and, more interestingly, detailed stats about what pages are popular:
As you can see, lots worth checking out and a great way to learn quite a bit more about your site traffic. Hope that helps you out!
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