ServersGetting the Most From Your Log Files Page 4

Getting the Most From Your Log Files Page 4

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Insights from your Error Logs

Every Web site has a different set of goals, but there’s one thing we all have in common: We want more traffic! Although a sure-fire way to build Web site traffic quickly remains as elusive as a sure-fire way to predict stock prices, there are some tried-and-true methods that can help you build your Web site traffic slowly but surely. The ambitious site owner will use various promotional tactics on an ongoing basis, but this article is not about any one traffic-building technique.

Web site errors mean lost traffic. Fixing dead links and malfunctioning scripts may not sound like marketing work, but every visitor who fails to find what they’re looking for, or leaves in disgust because your whizzy features don’t work right, is a penny out of your pocket. A log analysis program can give you a breakdown of the different type of errors that occur.

To err is human, and humans built the Web, so even the most tightly-run Web site will log a few errors. If the percentage of requests resulting in errors seems unusually high, however, there may be problems that need to be fixed.

If you’re getting a lot of 404s (page not found errors), then you may have some bad links on your site. You can find and fix them with a program like LinkBot, or with the Link Analysis cartridge which is included with the more expensive versions of WebTrends. Lots of script errors? Perhaps you have scripts somewhere that are malfunctioning. If so, track them down and fix them to convert those errors into impressions. A lot of script errors may also indicate that many of your visitors have older browsers that can’t handle the newfangled stuff. Either figure out how to hide the scripts from the older browsers, or get rid of ’em.

Most Active Countries

If your Web site is aimed solely at US visitors, then you don’t want traffic from other countries – it just ties up your server with visits from people who won’t be buying anything. If your Web site has international appeal, however, then the more the merrier.

For US sites, the US will represent the lion’s share of your traffic, with the UK, Canada, and Australia following. The next ones will usually be Germany and Sweden, followed by the other affluent Anglophiles of Western Europe.

The relative amounts of traffic from each country can tell you several things. If the percentage of your traffic that is from outside the US is tiny, then you may be able to realize a substantial overall boost by increasing your international traffic. Submit your site to international search engines and directories – all the major search engines have regional versions that you can submit to, and there are also various specialized search engines for particular regions, such as Euroseek.

If a particular country or region places high in the list of most active countries (out of the usual order listed above), then your content would seem to appeal to visitors from that region. You might try to capitalize on that by adding more regional content, or even translating some of your pages into another language. For example, the Latin American countries usually place far below the major English-speaking and Western European countries. If Mexico and Venezuela are placing just as high as Sweden and Holland, then it would appear that your site has South-of-the-border appeal. You might try to build on that by blitzing the Spanish-language search engines, or even adding a special South American page. On the other hand, as discussed above, you might take that as evidence that you have the Latin world covered, and concentrate on the Germanic world instead.

Mining that Data
Get the Most From Your Log Files
Where are they coming from?

, an Web site.

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