What is web traffic?

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Web traffic, (with the exception of the traffic generated by bots) often referred to as “traffic”, is the number of people that visit a website, the totality of pages they click to consult, and the length of time they view a page on the website.

The amount of traffic and the details of each visit are invaluable to a web-based business. So the server computer’s operators use it to record every request for a web page to enable them know the pages which interest surfers most.

Formerly, because there were no other business metrics to explain the .com rage, website traffic was thought to be the sole metric for determining success on the web. Now, however, much attention is redirected once again to profitability so website traffic has become a part of the equation. (Website traffic x conversion = results)

Types of web traffic

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We can speak of two broad types of web traffic. There is targeted web traffic, which is the one you get when you promote your website or business to attract a specific group of people to your website. But when you promote your website or business to get any type or group of people to visit your website, what you have is untargeted or general web traffic.

Tracking web traffic

As a website owner or online business owner, one of the most important things to do is to track where your visitors are coming from, which pages they are viewing the most on your website and how long they stay.

By tracking your results or your website traffic data you can know what’s working for you and what’s not.

Monitoring web traffic

Various tools are used to monitor web traffic. Web analytic companies can also provide you with tools to monitor website traffic hits in addition to a variety of other useful information and statistics.
Monitoring the incoming and outgoing traffic gives you an idea of the popularity of certain parts or pages of your site and if there are some trends, such as a page viewed mostly by people from a certain geographical zone.

The information often collated when monitoring web traffic are the number of visitors, the average number of page views per visitor, the average visit duration, the average page duration, the domain classes, the busy times, the most requested or the most popular pages, the most requested entry pages, the most requested exit pages, the top paths, and referrers.

The gathered data serves as a guide to structure your site, bring out security problems or indicate a potential lack of bandwidth.

Similarly, it shows you ads that you can suspend or reword because they generate negligible traffic. Monitoring website traffic hits is one of the best ways for owners to ensure that they are attracting their desired consumer base.

Measuring web traffic

You can measure web traffic through the traffic statistics found in the automatically generated list of all the pages served called the web server log file.

When a web server processes a file request, the computer makes an entry in a dedicated file on the server’s hard drive called server log. This data consists of the Internet Protocol (IP) address of the user requesting the file, when (the time and date) they made the request, the file’s name, and probably also error codes, such as requesting a non-existent page. Over time, the thousands of entries accumulated by the log becomes a gold mine of information which the site’s operators can sift through using web traffic analysis programs. The analysis of the log shows the most successful pages on the website, the days and times users are busiest on the site, and which parts of the world they come from.

By inserting a small piece of HTML code in every page of the web site you can also have external tracking applications to record web traffic. A packet sniffing can also enable you to have random samples of traffic data which can help you interpret web traffic as a whole across total Internet usage.
(Read more about packet sniffing)

Measuring website traffic gives you an idea of the success or the popularity of your entire website and also about its individual pages or the sections within the site. The less traffic your site gets the less successful or popular it is and the more traffic it receives the more successful or popular it is.

When you visit a website, you typically browse through a few pages before going to other sites. A visitor generates a minimum of a page view. This is either the landing page or (often) the homepage. More page views are generated when a visitor requests any other page(s) within the website.

A visit to a website is called a session. The page you browse is considered a file. The buttons and images on it are also files. So each web page consists of several separate files. The server sends each file to your browser, which assembles them into one piece called a page complete with text and graphics. Each file sent constitutes a “hit”. So a single page view with several buttons and images generates many hits. Therefore the more traffic a website receives, the more sessions and hits its server processes.

Monitoring website traffic hits is one of the best ways for owners to ensure that they are attracting their desired consumer base.

Analyzing web traffic

Analyzing web traffic is called web analytics. It is the study of the behaviour of visitors to a website.

There are many reasons for you to analyze website traffic.

One, analyzing web traffic enables you to monitor the effectiveness of your site. Let’s suppose that you are registering many hits to your site. On the surface, your website is doing well. However on taking a close look at the traffic, you may notice that the visitors are only staying for a brief moment, and worse, are not even taking a look at your other contents. This gives you the opportunity to find ways to make the visitors stay longer.

Two, analyzing web traffic helps you to determine the effectiveness of your business strategies. For instance, the landing pages bringing in the most purchases from visitors, the traffic a sale produces, and obtaining reliable information on the interests of your customers.

Understanding website traffic is crucial to unlocking the potential of a website. Knowing how visitors use your site allied with search engine strategies can make you develop a targeted approach to increase traffic and improve your site in innovative ways.

By analysing the statistics of visitors it is possible to see which parts of your site needs improvements. It is also possible to increase the popularity of a site and the number of people that visit it.

Limiting access to web traffic

You can protect parts of your website through the use of a password, thus allowing access only to authorized people.

You can also block access to your web pages to traffic from certain geographic locations. I have often clicked interesting business ads on the internet only to be informed on the landing page that access is denied to my location, country or region.

You can also limit access to your web server by the number of connections as well as by the bandwidth expended by each connection. This is accomplished on Apache HTTP servers by the limitipconn module and others.

Getting web traffic from search engines

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Search engines drive most of the web traffic.

Millions of people use search engines for their search purposes, for online purchases, and for their daily surfing activities. When an internet user types in keywords for a piece of information, the major search engines use their unique algorithms to rank the websites in the search results. Clicking on a listing in the search results directs the user to the corresponding website. Then data is transferred from the website’s server, counting the visitor towards the overall flow of traffic to that website.

Search engine optimization (SEO) is another way websites get traffic from search engines.

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If a web page is not listed in the first pages of any search engine results, the probabilities of it being found are slim indeed. This is because rare are internet users who go past the first page.

Several internal and external factors help improve a site’s listing within the search engines. One of the latter is optimizing a website to help improve its rankings in the search engines. As a site ranks higher within the search engines for a particular keyword, the more people see its link to click on it and consequently the more traffic it gets from the search engines. Therefore getting proper placement on search engines is crucial.

Increasing web traffic

To get any web traffic at all to your site you must learn how to put your website within click of your potential visitors. But to increase web traffic calls for time, skills, practice, and application.

One of the best ways to increase web traffic to a site is through providing quality content. Content is King, you remember? But know that for any one topic you have on your site, there are countless versions on other web pages too. In order to beat the competition and get yours noticed, you need to get traffic to it. One of the best ways to do that is through SEO.

SEO makes use of keywords, building backlinks, on-page SEO, and off-page SEO to improve a website’s rank in search engine results. SEO methods are not 100% accurate, they require a lot of research and also a knowledge of how search engines work. But if done well, they will lift your site way above those not using the same techniques to build their web traffic.

You can also increase web traffic to your site by adding it to search engines. Resorting to advertising, including bulk e-mail, pop-up ads, and in-page advertisements are other ways to increase website traffic. You can achieve the same results by purchasing through web traffic providers or non-internet based advertising, and also by encouraging individual visitors to “linger” on your site and view many pages. (An example of this practice can be found by visiting Outbrain)

Some companies offer advertising schemes that, in return for increased web traffic (visitors), pay for screen space on the site.

Additional ways to increase website traffic is to share your website address often on the Internet and at the end of your email messages.

Web traffic capacity

Each website requires a certain server computer capacity and the right internet connection to handle traffic. So, while a modest site can be hosted on a single server computer and an economical network connection, a busy one will require more, probably dozens of computers and a network that can keep up with the requests.

The website’s operators monitor the traffic the servers process and use the data to respond to the need to add more capacity. Should the operators fail to monitor web traffic capacity, surges in traffic will overload the computers and slow down the site’s responsiveness, causing frustration to visitors and lead
to lost business.

Web traffic overload

Increasing web traffic to a site is a good thing but just as too much of anything is bad, too much web traffic directed to your site can slow down the server, hang or even completely shut it down. This is because as much more file requests are made on the server, it becomes unable to cope with them.

This is the case when an intentional attack or a sudden burst of publicity accidentally floods a website with traffic and cause a web traffic overload. Such a surge in visitors in the second case (sometimes called a flash crowd or the Slashdot effect) may be caused by a sensational news item in the media, a quickly propagating email, or a link from a popular site. (Learn more about Slashdot effect and Flash crowd.)

Large scale web sites with numerous servers however do not experience this problem.

Denial of service attacks

A malicious attack can also send a website more requests than it can cope with and thus force it to close. Viruses have also been used to cause large scale denial-of-service attacks (DoS attacks).

Estimating website traffic

Estimating website traffic helps to measure the success of a website, as the popularity of a site is measured by the amount of traffic it gets.

Website traffic can be estimated with a website traffic estimator which will enable you check another website’s traffic and thus gauge the competition or to see how much traffic your own website is getting. A good website traffic estimator should estimate traffic by visitors rather than hits as this tracks the number of files downloaded and thus produce poor results.

If the traffic is coming from a search engine, then the website traffic estimator should display the keywords searched for you to know the most popular terms.

Don’t forget to place the selected keywords into the page name, headings, and the meta tags, which is the code that only search engines recognize.

Website traffic software

If you use free web traffic software or services, you may be asked to view advertisements when checking results. As for the paid ones, they vary greatly in price.

For more advanced methods of monitoring website traffic, you would often have to install software onto your web host, though most hosts provide some type of traffic suite.

Google website traffic

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Advertisers have text ads to display. Publishers create websites whose traffic they would like to monetize. Acting as intermediary, Google offers its platform for both.

Google AdSense™ automatically selects advertisements that offer the highest income and it is up to the webmaster to make his site successful so as to draw higher priced ads and more traffic. This is important as the more traffic the website draws, the higher the number of clicks on the ads.

Should you want to add something, seek a clarification or make any other comment, please use the comment box below or contact me on my Wealthy Affiliate Profile, and I will be glad to dialogue with you.

Akoli
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