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Web Marketing all-in-one for Dummies® by Marty Dickinson, John Arnold, Michael Becker, Elizabeth Marsten, Ian Lurie

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Chapter 2. Tracking Traffic Volumes

In This Chapter

  • Avoiding hits

  • The five basic metrics

  • How to interpret basic data

All the fancier metrics for tracking traffic and user behavior that you can read about later in this book are built on the five basic ones I cover in this chapter. You need to understand these five metrics — and how to interpret them — if you're going to do more advanced analysis and learn to use that data to improve your site.

Tip

I use Google Analytics for most of the examples in this book. The reports and such are much the same from one reporting package to another, though. Follow along with these examples, and you'll be able to apply what you glean here to any reporting toolset.

Seeing Why Hits Are a Lousy Metric

First off, though, you need to avoid one metric when tracking traffic and user behavior: hits.

You probably hear a lot of folks talk about hits. "I got a million hits last month!!!" is a claim I hear a lot.

That's great, but hits are almost meaningless when it comes to measuring audience or marketing performance. Simply defined, a hit is any one file downloaded from your Web site, any one time. Every image, script, and stylesheet linked to a page counts as one file — and, thus, one hit. Seeing as how one page can contain 1 file or 1,000 files, hits don't tell you much from a marketing viewpoint.

Look at Figure 2-1, which shows a single Web page. That page, though, holds dozens of images. Do the math, and you can see that a single view of that page generates about ...

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