How Do I Choose the Best Website Traffic Estimator?

Alex Newth

Whether you want to scope out the competition by checking another website’s traffic, or you want to see how much traffic your website is bringing in, a website traffic estimator can be beneficial. A good website traffic estimator should estimate traffic by visitors, not by hits, which offer poor results, because they track the number of files downloaded. Demographic information also is important, because this allows you to target a website for the primary audience. Websites receive traffic from search engines and referring websites, and knowing where traffic comes from also may help bring in more visitors. Estimators also should display the number of pages viewed by each visitor and how much time that visitor stayed on the website.

Website traffic estimators can track activity by visitors or by hits.
Website traffic estimators can track activity by visitors or by hits.

You likely will want a website traffic estimator to record traffic by visitors rather than by hits. If the estimator is recording traffic via hits, then traffic is going to be inflated, because this tracks the number of files downloaded instead of the number of visitors. For example, if one visitor comes to a website and 12 files download — this includes image, text and animation files — the number of hits will be 12. Some visitors also will set their Internet browser to disable image files, so while there are 12 files on the website, some visitors will not download all the files, making hits an inaccurate measurement.

Web analytics are important to anyone who cares about who visits their site and how they got there.
Web analytics are important to anyone who cares about who visits their site and how they got there.

Demographic information may help you target the website for your primary audience. Basic demographic data that a website traffic estimator should display are salary and gender. By knowing these figures, you can change your content to best suit your audience, possibly making it happier.

Website traffic comes from two primary sources: search engines and referring websites. If the traffic is coming from a search engine, then the website traffic estimator should display what keywords were searched, so you know what terms are most popular. By knowing popular search terms, you can optimize your website to capitalize on those keywords. Referring websites are websites that link to your website. You may be able to get more traffic from the referring website if you visit that website and comment or talk to the website owner and persuade him or her to link to your website more often.

Another useful function that a website traffic estimator should come with is the ability to track how many pages a person visited and how long he or she remained on the website. If the estimator tracks how many pages the average person visited, then you will know your bounce rate, or how many visitors just looked at one page. You will want a low bounce rate, because this typically shows that your website is effective, because visitors want to see more of it. The estimator also should track how much time the average visitor spends on your website because, if most visitors stay on the website for just a few seconds, there may be a problem with the website.

Google provides free tools for tracking online analytics.
Google provides free tools for tracking online analytics.

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Discussion Comments

Feryll

@Drentel - I agree with what you are saying about cutting out the middle man. A friend and I started a service a few years ago. We built websites, managed them, and did Internet marketing and website analysis for customers. Combined, my partner and I had a good deal of knowledge in these areas.

Initially, we did well, and most of our customers were pleased with what we were doing for them. However, with all of the new applications and new tools, and the companies offering free website construction, we could not keep pace. Our customers could simply buy the new tools and applications and cut out the middle man. Since we were the middle man, our business went downhill in a hurry.

Our former customers do what we did for them and all they lose is the time it takes for them to do the work. Since the people we were working with had small budgets, time was less important than money.

Drentel

I don't understand much about how the Internet and websites work technically. I know how to use the computer and surf websites and find what I need, but I can't tell you how the Internet really works. I do know that if am going to compete with my business competitors then I need to be on the Internet where potential customers can find the services my businesses provide.

Since I have such little knowledge of the workings of the Internet, I have to hire sources to develop my Internet content and see how it stacks up against the rest of the competition. These companies and individuals are supposed to help me increase my website traffic, and they tell me how I compare to my competition in this area. However, I have my doubts about the usefulness of some of the numbers they give me.

Also, the cost of having someone maintain and track the traffic on a website is not cheap. I think with a little practice and a good website traffic estimator, I could do much of what I am now paying other people to do and save a ton of money in the process.

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