CogniText web development and online marketing

Specialists in Internet Web Sites Since 1995

Online Marketing for Book and Publishing Web Sites:
Step 4, Tracking Traffic

© 2001 Virginia Lawrence, Ph.D.

When we are marketing a site, our first goal is to increase the qualified traffic to the site. That is, we want to attract visitors who might be interested in our books. When the site is attracting the right visitors, and attracting those visitors in increasing numbers, then we are increasing the likelihood of selling our books to our target market.

So we want to keep our Web site traffic increasing from month to month. To determine whether the traffic is increasing, decreasing, or remaining stable, we must monitor the traffic on the Web site.

How Do We Measure Traffic?

Many Web hosting companies offer free traffic analysis software with each site. Some of this free traffic analysis software is very good, so you should start there. For example, the Web host we use for offers excellent software. We can use it to easily track the number of hits per day, number of hits in a two-week period, most popular pages, and the referring pages.

Obtaining Web Traffic Software Elsewhere

If the site's host does not offer software for reviewing the site logs, we must install such software, because it's important to track the results of our marketing efforts. We can download and install the free WebLog software from, or we can spend $699 to purchase WebTrends log Analyzer from

Web traffic software tends to be either free or very expensive. In fact WebTrends is among the least expensive of the Web traffic software programs. Other packages carry prices that go over $100,000 for more detailed traffic analysis.

Tracking Traffic

The simplest way to track the level of Web site traffic is to take the number of hits from the traffic analysis software and plot the number of hits per month using Excel or even a pen-and-pencil graph. The number of hits is a gross measure; it is not the same as number of visitors, but it gives you a quick overall number so that you can compare the traffic levels from month to month.


The number of hits is actually the number of files viewed on the site. Since each page is one file, and each picture on the page is another file, you can see that one visitor viewing one page with three graphics will be recorded as four hits by the traffic software.

Referring Pages?

Webmasters like to know how their visitors arrived at the site. Web traffic software gives us the list of Referring Pages where we can see how many visitors typed the address, how many came from Yahoo, how many came from Google, etc. We can evaluate this list of referrers to help determine our future marketing. That is, if many people are coming from, perhaps an ad at LookSmart would double our number of visitors.

In contrast, if we are receiving no visitors through, we should check to see whether our site is actually listed there and where our site ranks in the Excite listing.

If we record our Web site traffic on a regular basis, we can see whether our number of visitors is increasing. When we record our latest online marketing efforts, our traffic analysis allows us to measure the effectiveness of our marketing efforts.

~ Virginia Lawrence, Ph.D. is an Information Architect who publishes both in print and online. Contact her at

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