In order to measure website traffic you need have a web analytics software installed. What is web analytics? According to wikipedia:
There are a number of free and paid options out there and I’ll list a few below but Mashable as a fairly comprehensive list. I do not recommend using any software which provides a visible visitor counter on your site. These statistics do not increase traffic to your site and make your website look outdated.
Depending on your needs, you can either track your traffic in real-time or a delayed statistics. You can use more than one option in conjunction as each provides different levels of data.
A couple which I found interesting based on Mashable’s post are:
1. VisitStats – provides real time website tracking, web monitoring software to alert you if your website goes down, touch mapping, and a tool for identifying your visitors by website, email, etc. Looks as though there is a free and paid version
2. Clicky – another offering real time analytics and has an iphone version
3. Woopra – real time analytics which I have used. User-friendly and has a wordpress plugin to allow you to easily integrate it with your wordpress site. I’ve had a couple of issues with it not displaying my current visitors stats within my website but I can view these stats when logged into my woopra account. I am not big on tracking my real time data so have not taken the time to find out why I’m having a problem.
4. Google Analytics – Google analytics is a very popular choice for the simply reason it’s FREE and provides good data. All you need is a google account in order to start using it. The easiest way to get google analytics on your site is to sign up for your google account, go through the steps of setting up google analytics and send the generated code to your web developer. If you have good technical skills you can certainly insert the code yourself, but if you are running a site with standard html pages, the code will have to be added to each page to monitor your site correctly.
You can get a general idea of how your site is performing by looking at the data in any analytics program but to really understand the data it’s important to educate yourself. I will be purchasing Web Analytics 2.0: The Art of Online Accountability and Science of Customer Centricity based on the recommendation of a colleague.
Without analytics it is impossible to know how effective not only your website is but your marketing efforts to drive traffic to your site. There is certainly much more to understand when tracking performance but utilizing and understanding web analytics is a first step.