AWStats is a detailed web statistics program that comes combined with many hosting accounts, and has been around for years. While it does not track specific ad performance and revenue, like Google Analytics, it does provide much information on your traffic and keywords. Without doubt, understanding these numbers can help you to identify trends and opportunities, which in turn leads to added profit. The numbers will also tell you whether you have problems with the technical aspects of your website such as broken links and downtime.
Advanced Web Statistics is divided into 18 sections for easy reading. Each domain on a server gets its own stats page and the segments include:
- a summary for the month-to-date
- monthly history
- days of month
- days of week
- visitors' countries
- hosts (IP addresses)
- robots and spiders who visited
- visitor durations
- file types
- pages visited including entry and exit
- operating systems used by visitors
- browsers used
- organic traffic from search engines
- traffic from other webpages
- search key phrases and keywords
- miscellaneous such as adding favorites as bookmarks
- HTTP status code which are 301 and 302 redirects, 404 not found, and others
Each of these sections show the top ten informational pieces, then if you want further details, you can click on the link to find all the others.
The keyword phrase section is particularly useful because you may be targeting one keyword while getting your traffic from another entirely different keyword phrase. Knowing this information can help you in two ways:
- by helping you focus on keywords of which you were not aware, and expand them, or at least maintain their presence if the traffic volume is high enough, and
- by telling you that you are not making progress with the keywords you targeted in which case you need to modify your promotional efforts.
Further, the section on search engines, when used in conjunction with the spider visits will help you to know which search engines are giving you the most attention. Let's assume you notice that you do not have one visitor that was sent by Google, but you have plenty from Yahoo and Ask Jeeves. The first thing you should do is check to see if the Google bot has come around. If not, then there is a good chance that Google does not even know about your site. This is an opportunity because you know you can increase your traffic by getting into Google's search results.
Another key item is the duration or time a visitor spends on your site. By using this section hand-in-hand with the entry and exit stats, you know whether or not visitors are finding what they need. If they leave seconds later from the page they entered, it might suggest you have nothing to offer them. You do have to be careful here with your analysis because conversely, people might be leaving the page to access the sales form or payment page.
Obviously, by knowing the browser and operating systems of your visitors, you can decide how to enhance your website. It is important that the site be compatible for the bulk of your traffic. So for example, if less than one percent of your users are on some obscure browser, it does not make sense to spend the money upgrading your site. On the other hand, if forty percent are using a browser for which you have not tested your webpages, you better get working on that right away.
Finally the monthly and daily numbers are quite important to you because you want to know if your site's traffic is increasing. Maybe you bought advertising and you want to know if it is at least producing visitors. There should be a direct correlation between the ads and the traffic. Assuming all other things are equal, the week you run an ad should be the week you see more traffic. Plus, monthly stats from past years will indicate trends or patterns of traffic that may be seasonal in nature.