Know your visitors – without spending a dime

As a domainer one of the most important pieces of information you’ll need to keep track of is the visitors coming to your sites. This is particularly important for flipped sites that you are working to improve their search engine placement and monthly traffic.

On top of simply understanding how many people are visiting your site, it’s important to understand how they got there. This is the #1 way to really pin-point your return on investment for any advertising that you are doing for your site. Supposed you’re paying $50/month to run a banner ad on a popular website (in reality will probably be a lot more than $50). Months go by and you think that your advertisement is paying off. Visitors are coming to your site, buying your product, mission successful! Look a little closer. It’s important to look not just at your total number of monthly visitors but also where those visitors are coming from. If you notice that 90% of your traffic comes from a Google searches then you know you can kiss that ad goodbye and save your $50. If on the other hand you can see that most of your traffic does come from your advertisement, then you know it’s working.

Too often businesses will spend a fortune on marketing, see sales increase, but fail to understand what really caused the lift. Your websites are your business, become an expert in your visitor, understand who it is that visits you site, how long they stay for, how often they come back. By better understanding your visitors you can continue to improve your site and get more and more of your visitors coming-back for more.

When looking at visitors to your site – make sure you pay careful attention to unique visitors. This will give you a good idea of how many different people are really looking at your website.

So how do you track all of these useful statistics? Well GoDaddy and some of the other hostings services offer traffic-tracking, for a monthly fee. This can get very very expensive as your number of domains increases. GoDaddy charges $1.99/name to do visitor tracking – with 100 sites this would cost you an additional $200/month just to track your visitors!

Not to worry. There is an incredible free (yes you heard that right) visitor tracking service called StatCounter.com. Sign-up is quick and easy and you can track a number of useful statistics about your site by simply inserting a small snipped of code at the bottom of your page. StatCounter will also show you things like how your visitors got to your site, how often they come back, as well as which pages are the most popular.

Tracking your traffic will you understand your visitors better, which in the end will increase the value of your investment. By using StatCounter you can save what could be hundreds of dollars in monthly fees while still getting all the information you need.

{ 2 comments… add one }

  • Martin Edic February 15, 2008, 1:55 pm

    Uh, Google Analytics does about a hundreds times more metrics and its free- eyetracking, browser sniffing, source sites, exit pages, time on site, bounce rates, geographic distribution of visitors- that’s just the tip of the iceberg. And you add it to any site in minutes.
    I used to work for a company bought this product (Urchin) before Google started giving it away for free. We paid thousands per month for it (we had millions of page views). Fantastic tool.

    Reply
  • Anonymous February 17, 2008, 8:22 am

    I have to say that I’ve used both and am still a big fan of StatCounter. You can get a huge array of metrics on your domains. StatCounter has browser sniffing, source sites, exit pages, time on site, bounce rate, and geographic distribution like you mention.
    On top of this they have things like Keyword analysis and search engine comparisons. StatCounter also tracks return visitors which is an important metric to keep tracking.
    I think Google makes a great tool too, but StatCounter gives all the data you need plus a whole lot more.
    In the end I am looking for:
    1) Unique Visitors to my sites
    2) Time spent on page
    3) Popular Keywords
    4) Source Site
    5) Popular Pages
    6) Geographic Distribution
    7) Returning Visits
    StatCounter and Google alike offer all of these. I don’t have the time to keep track of 50 statistics for each of my sites. Instead these seven are what really matter to me and can let me know everything I need to about my visitors.
    Thanks for the post Martin. As I’ve said I think Google makes a great tool as well and am glad it’s working so well for you.
    Anyone else feel free to weight-in on your favorite tool for visitor tracking.

    Reply

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