Analyzing website traffic manually can be quite time consuming. It would be much easier if we are able to automate the process. In general, traffic analysis software will gather, analyze and report data. There are different ways data can be gathered and this includes collected raw data from log files. The software should be able to easily parse log files into more understandable form. The server may also collect data using server plugin, which comes with the software itself. After installing the plugin, data can be obtained in real time, before it’s written in the log files. After enough data is collected, then the software will analyze it and it often performs complex heuristic procedure to categorize the information, such as page views and visits. After the analysis stage is completed, the result will be placed in the database, to facilitate the reporting phase. The information in the database will be read, tabulated and arranged into forms that can be understood easily by people. Web administrators can seek specific information from the reporting database, such as hits for each webpage, how long people stay in a webpage and other information.
There are different kinds of software that we can use for website traffic analysis. Companies may need to develop their own website traffic analysis software due to various specific requirements that are only implemented in the company. In-house software could be written using various types of language. Developing your own software can be quite time consuming and costly, but this can be essential, if there are specific business requirements that can’t be handled by commercial website traffic analysis software. Although the software is developed in house, it is important that it still conforms to various industry standards. For smaller businesses with more common operation, it is a good idea to use free and open source software. This is a good solution if your budget is limited. Open source software has one benefit that its source code is fully accessible and modifiable. It means that open source software can be easily modified and expanded further to provide more capabilities, as well as features.
For a finished product, you may consider choosing commercial software that comes with various features. It’s the next logical step if small businesses find that free software is no longer enough to match their requirements. Commercial software product should come with improved user interface and feature, which include visual reports, calendars and graphs. Visual reports can be particularly useful, because we can get path and funnel reports. Basic commercial solutions should be quite affordable and useful enough for many businesses. It is important that the software can access the log files automatically to speed up the process. Some software may require you to manually insert the location of the log files, which will reduce the overall ease of use. The software may also obtain information from cookies stores in users’ machine. They are able to provide more accurate information about visits to your website.