Theres Gold in Your Websites Server Log

Many Webmasters have never bothered to view their website's server log. Ignoring your server log is like flying with a blind pilot. You may still be cruising along, but you have no idea where you are or where you're headed. If your website is on a free host, you probably don't have access to the server log. However, if you pay for your web host, or if you own the server, you almost always have some access to the server log.

In this article, you'll learn what kind of information a typical server log provides, how to analyze that information, and how to use that information to steer your website in a direction for growth and success.

The actual data in the server log is just that, data. Data is of little use without an application to compile, categorize, analyze, and turn it into useful information. The power of server log analysis software varies depending upon the web host, and it's not related to how much you pay for hosting service. I have seen some very low budget web hosts with powerful server log analysis software, and some expensive web hosts that provide only a limited utility.

The importance of the server log analysis software is second only to up-time reliabilty when it comes to web hosts. A web server log can tell you who is visiting your web site, where they're coming from, what operating system and web browser they're using, what pages of your website they are viewing, and much more. A smart webmaster performs a regular monthly analysis of the valuable information contained in the server log.

Hits

Some webmasters brag about the number of "hits" their website receives, but hits themselves are not important. For example, when a search engine spiders your website, it generates a hit for every page it visits. There are ways to generate millions of hits on a website without anyone ever actually viewing a single page.

The important statistics are "page view hits" and "unique visitors". Server log analysis software should tell you how many times each page was viewed. Anaylyzing the popularity of individual pages tells you where to place your most important advertisements, and what kind of new content you should add to your website.

The king of all statistics is the number of unique visitors your web site receives. When it comes to selling advertising or joining the most exclusive affiliate programs, a high number of unique visitors each month is the statistic that gets respect.

Good analysis software will tell you how many pages each visitor viewed and how long they stayed on your website. The goal is to develop content that gets your visitors to stay longer, a quality sometimes referred to as "stickiness".

A statistic related to hits is "bandwidth". This is a complicated statistic because you want more visitors and that causes bandwidth to go up. On the other hand, high bandwidth consumption makes your website repond slower (and most web hosts charge extra for bandwidth beyond a certain limit). What you want is to design your web pages so they use bandwidth efficiently, and you want to be on the lookout for people who are stealing your bandwidth (usually by linking to images on your web site).

Referrers

Good server log analysis software will provide you with the URLs of the webpages that people clicked on to get to your website. This is extremely valuable information. If you are receiving a high volume of traffic from another website, you can almost consider that website to be your business partner. It would be to your advantage to find ways to make your website more useful to the referring website. For example, learn what the topic of the referring website is and place more related content on your website.

One common method of aiding referrers is to place a reciprocal link on your website. However, don't bother placing the reciprocal link on a "links" page with hundreds of other links (a link farm). If you can't provide an honest reciprocal link, it's better to do nothing. An honest reciprocal link might be a page containing a review of the referrer's website, and that page should contain only a few other links.

Search Strings

Good server log analysis software will provide you with the keywords and search strings people entered at a search site to find your website. One way to get more traffic to your website is to provide more content related to the top keywords. If getting more traffic is your single goal, there are websites that will provide you with a list of the current most popular keywords entered into search engines. Then you can provide more content related to those keywords. This gets involved with the subject of "Search Engine Optimization" (SEO).

SEO is a science in itself, covered in other articles, but I will reveal a secret trick as an example of SEO tactics. Starting with a top keyword, generate every possible misspelling of that keyword and place those at the top of your webpage with the text color the same as the webpage background. (Note: I don't use that trick or any other SEO tricks myself because if you get caught the search engines will penalize your website.)

Platform and User Agent Good server log analysis software will tell you which operating systems and which browser brands and versions people are using to access your website. At the time of this writing, the most common operating system is Windows XP and the most common browser is Internet Explorer version 6. However, you will find a wide range of operating systems and browsers accessing you website. Unfortunately, they are not all compatible.

The fact is, you can't design your website to be 100 percent compatible with every operating system and web browser in use today. That would require either using only plain html (version 3) or using browser detection code and creating a dozen variations of each webpage. Use your server log's platform and user agent data to decide which browser your web pages should to be designed to be compatible with. Your statistics will probably show that 90 percent of your website's visitors are using the latest or the previous version of Internet Explorer.

Country Information

Good server log analysis software will tell you which countries your website visitors are located in. Analysis of the bucarotechelp.com server logs shows that visitors are located in every country, village, and hamlet on the planet. This leads to the question, should you create multiple variations of each webpage to accomodate visitors from other nations? It depends upon your business and your resources. The fact is that the language of business and commerce across the planet is English, and I receive frequent email, in English, from all over the planet.

Important Ways to Use Server Log Information

Website Design

Remember when the typical website had a gray background and a single image in the middle of the page? Today, that would be below the standard for a kids website on AOL. Does your server log "platform" and "user agent" statistics tell you that most of the visitors to your website are using Windows XP with Internet Explorer Version 6, while your website is designed for Windows 95 and Internet Explorer Version 4? Can you afford to be presenting a website that looks outdated?

I think it's a mistake to design a website that requires your visitors to have the latest bleeding-edge technology. On the other hand, if the rest of the web is using ASP (Active Server Pages) to generate custom webpages on-the-fly that use CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) to create webpages that resemble slick magazine pages and DHTML (Dynamic HTML) to provide interactivity, it might be time for you to investigate those technologies.

If your website is a business site or E-commerce site, the visual style and technical level of your website reflects the quality of your business or service. To determine the proper visual style and technology level of your website requires you to monitor three things.

1. Your competitors. You want to look as in-style as they do, but avoid following them down the road to bloated plugins (Macromedia Flash). 2. The portion of your audience using broad band Internet Access. Less than half of U.S. Make sure your webpages load within 20 seconds over a 56kbps modem connection. 2. Your server log platform and user agent statistics. Your web pages need to be designed to be compatible with the current most popular operating system and web browser version.

Webhost Performance

Web hosts provide two basic kinds of service, shared hosting and dedicated hosting. If your website is on a shared host, there may be hundreds of other websites sharing the same computer as your website. This limits the performance of your website. Many web host providers use "bandwidth throttling" to prevent one website from hogging all the available bandwidth.

As your website grows and attracts increasing traffic, it will need more of the host computers processor time and more bandwidth. Monitor your server log hits, and bandwidth statistics. At some point, your website may hit a performance wall and you may need to move to a higher grade of hosting, or a different web host company to continue growth.

When moving to a different web host company, don't trust the specifications they provide. Check several different web host directories that let visitors rate web hosts. If several different web host directories have many users that give a web host company a high rating, that's the company you want to trust with your website.

Website Topic

As you analyze certain website server statistics (for example, "page view hits", and "top search engine keywords") and make adjustments, you may find the content of your website drifting away from your original intent. At some point, you may have to decide, Am I going to chase traffic and change the topic of my website, or am I more interested in focusing on the topic of my choice?

If the original objective of your website was to make money above all else, then let your visitors steer your website's content. There's nothing wrong with that. Everybody's got to make a living. But, if the original objective of your website was to be a resource on a subject that you are passionate about, then you may need to reassess the content of your website.

I would reccommend having the best of both worlds. Stick to content related to the subject of your website, but delineate a wide enough scope of the topic so that when your server statistics point out an opportunity to increase traffic, you have rules to guide you.

In this article you learned some of the types of information you can mine from your web server log and some powerful ways to use that information to steer your website in a direction for growth and success. If you are one of those webmasters who has never bothered to view their website's server log, you now know that you have been overlooking some gold nuggets.

--

Permission is granted for the below article to forward, reprint, distribute, use for ezine, newsletter, website, offer as free bonus or part of a product for sale as long as no changes are made and the byline, copyright, and the resource box below is included.

Copyright(C) Bucaro TecHelp.

About The Author

Stephen Bucaro

To learn how to maintain your computer and use it more effectively to design a Web site and make money on the Web visit bucarotechelp.com. To subscribe to Bucaro TecHelp Newsletter visit http://bucarotechelp.com/search/000800.asp

In The News:

This RSS feed URL is deprecated, please update. New URLs can be found in the footers at https://news.google.com/news

CNBC

Microsoft allies with Facebook on PyTorch, ONNX AI software
CNBC
Microsoft still updates its own open-source software for artificial intelligence. But it's focusing more on improving.
Microsoft allies with Facebook on AI softwareYahoo Finance

all 4 news articles »

Sputnik International

China matches Nato in information arms race with deal for 'Ferrari of ...
South China Morning Post
China has obtained the big screen software used by Nato and the United States for war room mapping, putting its forces on an equal organisational footing with ...
China Buys Geospatial Software to Put it on Par With NATO, US ...Sputnik International

all 2 news articles »

Electrek

Tesla releases Model 3 software update with new climate controls, anti-theft feature, and more
Electrek
Tesla is pushing a new software update to the Model 3 this week that includes new climate controls, a new anti-theft feature, and more. The automaker started releasing a new version of its v9 software (2018.44). Among the new features, Tesla is ...


SDxCentral

Verizon acquires Software Defined Perimeter assets from Vidder to enhance enterprise virtualized secure networking ...
Verizon Communications
NEW YORK – Verizon (NYSE, Nasdaq: VZ) today acquired the PrecisionAccess™ solution and other Software Defined Perimeter (SDP) related assets from privately held Vidder, Inc., a company offering trusted and unified access control. Terms of the ...
Verizon Buys Software-Defined Perimeter Assets From VidderSDxCentral
Verizon (VZ) acquires Software Defined Perimeter assets from VidderStreetInsider.com

all 13 news articles »

Khaleej Times

Who lives with you? Facebook seeks to patent software to figure out profiles of households
Fairfield Daily Republic
Facebook Inc. is applying to patent software that it could use to create profiles of users' households by making educated guesses about how many people live in the household, what their relationships to each other are, what interests they share and ...
Facebook seeks to patent software to analyse who lives with youKhaleej Times

all 15 news articles »

Silicon Prairie News

Fifteen Software Companies in Nebraska that you should be able to explain to your family on Thanksgiving
Silicon Prairie News
Here at SPN, we are thankful for the building that is taking place here in the Silicon Prairie. We want to highlight some of the companies that provide great examples of these entrepreneurial efforts, for your discussion with family and friends this ...


Transmission and Distribution World

Siemens Presents Next Generation of Overhead Line Inspection Software
Transmission and Distribution World
SIEAERO smart analytics software is using artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to store, manage and analyze all data in one integrated software system. To reduce the needed amount of flights and inspection efforts drastically, SIEAERO is ...


Forbes

We Need Software That Doesn't Panic When Sensors Malfunction
Forbes
Much is still unknown about the crash of Lion Air Flight 610 in Indonesia, but one potential explanation is that a malfunctioning physical sensor caused a software algorithm to incorrectly intervene in a way that the human pilots were neither aware of ...


Forbes

Move Slow and Make Things: Airtable's Howie Liu Built A $1B ...
Forbes
n the frenetic world of tech, where the ruling ethos is to move fast and break things, Howie Liu moves at a glacial pace. With Andrew Ofstad and Emmett Nicholas ...

and more »

TechCrunch

Citrix pays $200M to acquire Sapho, which connects legacy ...
TechCrunch
As large organizations grapple with adopting modern work practices without throwing out all of their legacy software, a company that works with them is making ...

and more »
Google News

Beware of The Pirated Software E-Mail Scams!

You have gotten those E_Mails buy software at deep discounts.... Read More

Know Linux

Linux essentials:It's free for download but you have to pay... Read More

Microsoft Great Plains Logistics & Warehouse Management ? Implementation & Customization Highlights

Logistics automation is often considered as barcoding extension to Sales... Read More

Make or Break Factors - When Considering Estimating Software

Make-or-Break Factors in Success and ProfitabilityFor quick printers, estimating can... Read More

Linux Dual Boot-How To Format

Just the thought of a duel-boot scares many people away,... Read More

What is Preventive Maintenance Software?

Preventive Maintenance (PM) is defined as scheduled work done on... Read More

Intro to UNIX Shells

A UNIX Shell is in simplest terms, a command line... Read More

Making The Decision To Automate Your Software Testing

Not every software testing project can or should be automated.... Read More

Choose your Java Wisely

Java has come along a long way. Many would agree... Read More

Two Reasons to Use Timesheet Software

This short paper will expand on two key reasons to... Read More

Microsoft Navision Customization and Reporting ? Tips For Programmer/IT Specialist

C/SIDE (Client/Server Integrated Development Environment) - The core of... Read More

Recent Studies Show that 9 out of 10 PCs Are Infected with Spyware

Spyware and malware are large problems for Internet users today... Read More

Inherent Dangers Of File Sharing Via The Internet.

Cyberspace has opened up a new frontier with exciting possibilities... Read More

Industry Experts Answer the One Million-dollar Question - Why Genie Backup Manager?

Many reasons made GBM a unanimous choice for experts, one... Read More

Data Quality Best Practices for Salesforce.com

Executive SummaryAn effective plan for entering, cleaning and updating the... Read More

Microsoft CRM Customization

Microsoft CRM customization techniques are very diversified and based on... Read More

eConnect: eCommerce Development for Microsoft Great Plains

Microsoft Business Solutions Great Plains has several options to enable... Read More

Anti-Virus Software

Anti-virus software is used to find, remove or fix files... Read More

The Opera Alternative

Security flaws have long plagued Internet Explorer (IE), the market-dominating... Read More

Microsoft Small Business Manager Customization Options - Overview

Microsoft Business Solutions Small Business Manager is Great Plains Dexterity... Read More

Exactly What Does FTP Stand for and What Can it do for Me?

FTP stands for "file transfer protocol". FTP is basically a... Read More

How a Bug Challenges to a Software Professional

It is really interesting that a bug can create problem... Read More

Best Practices In Choosing Network Monitoring Software

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Hawaii (HMSA) found itself... Read More

How to Get The Best Accounting Software For Your Small Business

Buying accounting software is a major investment. It's an important... Read More

Crystal Reports For Microsoft RMS ? Overview For Developer/Report Designer

If you are software developer or database administrator - we... Read More