Website Statistics

Understanding your website stats is very important in managing your website and understanding how a website is doing / performing.

We are so often approached or land up on website that boast their website hits. These stats can leave potential advertisers or visitors in awe of the website, when in actual fact, hits are completely irrelevant to the popularity of the website.

Generally, one hears about the following:

  • Hits
  • Page Views / Page Impressions
  • Unique Visitors

We have broken down the terms below to give you a better understanding on website statistics and which ones you REALLY should worry about or be concerned about when deciding if a particular website is doing well.

Hits

Every time someone visits a website, a “hit” is done to the website’s web server. As the page loads, every element on the page is counted as a hit.

For example, if we typed in a particular URL / website address and allow the page to load, every image loaded on the page would count as 1 hit, plus there would be the 1 hit for the actual page. So, 1 page that has 15 images on it would have 16 hits every time the page loaded – can you see how hits can be deceiving?

Websites that have many images displayed will ultimately have a higher hit statistic than a website that is just plain text.

Page Views / Page Impressions

Page view or page impression statistics are increased every time a visitor opens or views a particular web page on a website.
So, let’s use the same example we used above. We enter a URL / website address and the page loads. You now know that the hits are accumulating as the page loads, but the page view / page impression for the particular page would be 1. If you refreshed the page after it had loaded, the hits would keep mounting and the page view / page impression would increase by another 1.
Page views can be useful if you want to see the popularity of a page.

Unique Visitors

Already, the name of the statistic should make you feel better.

When I visit a website and you visit a website, no matter how many images load or how many pages I visit or you visit, we would both add 1 to the unique visitor count of the website.

So, if I visit a website with 1000 pages and I manage to view 100 of those pages, the unique visitor count would be 1. If you came along and visited the website and view 150 pages, the unique visitor count of the website would become 2.

Summary

HITS ARE NOT A RELIABLE WEBSITE TRACKING FACILITY!

Always get the UNIQUE VISITOR information before making a decision about advertising on a particular website or when deciding whether your own website needs more work – this could save you money and time in the long run.

Website Portals

Website portals available throughout the world can be incredibly useful to any visitor looking for information, advice, tips and even special packages in some instances.

What is a Website Portal?

A Website Portal is a website that generally includes vast information relating to a particular subject matter. When you land up on a particular portal, you will often read terms such as “one stop shop”, “online guide”, “online directory”.

The beauty of portals is certainly the fact that you can find most of the information that you require on one website – this ultimately can saves you time and certainly is very convenient.

Why use Website Portals?

As mentioned above, Website Portals that are well maintained and are popular tend to have good and useful information available.

Here are some good reasons to make use of website portals:

  • Up to date information on the subject matter is usually available.
  • Articles or pages on the website are available that provide you with more detailed information on the particular subject matter you are browsing the internet for.
  • Product / Service specials and packages are often displayed on website portals which can prove useful when looking at comparative costing.

How do I know which Website Portal to advertise my business on or use for my particular business?

You will need to do your homework if you want to advertise your business on website portals. Here’s how to get the information on whether it’s a good idea to market your business on a particular website portal:

  • Ask other companies advertising on the portal for their input and feedback.
  • Do searches on major search engines, such as Google, Yahoo and MSN – you don’t want to advertise on a website that doesn’t rank well on the search engines.
  • Get the statistics on the website if possible. IMPORTANT: Make sure to get UNIQUE VISITORS and IGNORE Hits and Page Views as they are completely irrelevant.
  • Browse the website and use your judgment to determine whether the website looks good. Avoid advertising on websites that are filled with adverts that deter you from the main website. Banners can distract visitors from a website since visitors generally get redirected to another website when the banner is clicked. If a website portal is filled with banners, be careful when signing up as you are paying the portal to ensure YOU RECEIVE BUSINESS and not lose business.
  • For portals that take on PAID ADVERTISERS opposed to a commission based model: Check if there are limitations in the number of business listed in a particular area of the site – If there’s an unlimited amount, depending on the subject matter, this can also decrease your chances of being found. For example, Mammoth Solutions run s a directory for South Africa Weddings. We have a limited listing policy of 10 service partners per category and region which has resulted in our service partners receiving more business than if they were among hundreds of other service partners in the same category and province. Weddings are very specific, but the concept remains. 10 is a low number, but be careful of advertising on a portal where you are dealing with hundreds of other listings that are ultimately in competition with you.
  • For portals that are COMMISSION based: make sure you understand the terms and conditions with these types of sites. There is very little harm in advertising with these types of portals from a “payment upfront” point of view. But, you MUST UNDERSTAND the commission structure to ensure that a sale / purchase / booking through the portal website is still financially beneficial for you after commission has been deducted.

VERY IMPORTANT:

Make sure that understand the TERMS AND CONDITIONS relating to the joining up with a website. Make sure there are no additional costs and be clear on cost structures, costs involved, all your options and annual / monthly fees (if any).

Summary

There are hundreds of South Africa portals to list on, but it ultimately comes down to your business. As mentioned above, do your homework and make sure you understand clearly what is involved on your part.

TIP:

If people can contact you via the portal via a contact form, make sure to use an email address that is reliable e.g. don’t use YAHOO or HOTMAIL accounts as they don’t look particularly professional and they aren’t always reliable.

Website Forums

We often get asked to quote on implementing a website forum on clients’ websites and each time we discuss the Pros and Cons of implementing a forum on their website.

What is a Forum?

A forum is like a message board or discussion board where visitors can post questions or comments on a particular subject matter. Other uses may be to post news, “hot topics” and / or tips and advice relating to a service or product being mentioned or marketed on a particular website.
Whatever the subject matter, forums simply allow users to interact with each other i.e. other visitors as well as the webmaster who manages and maintains the website being visited.

When would I use a forum?

Forums are often used on websites that are selling a particular product that may require support of some sort. Other websites with forums are website portals who have a large visitor base and have a subject matter that is suitable for a forum.
If you run a website that is relevant to the above mentioned scenarios, then a forum is possibly something you could consider for your website.

Pros of having a forum:

  • If you have a large number of visitors who make use of the forum by posting questions, info, etc, the volume of information can give your site credibility with other visitors. Think of it this way – would you post a question or information on a forum where there was 10 posts done by the same person or by 2 people? Or would you more likely revisit a website and post comments on a forum that has a 1000 users and hundreds of posts by different users?
  • Forums can assist in increasing your traffic. If you find a website useful, particularly the forum useful, you will more than likely visit the forum again- repeat or returning visitors are an important aspect for a website – it means, you are doing something right 🙂
  • Forums can assist you in developing a client base. People have to register to take part in a forum. When users register on a forum, their information including their email address is stored. If they specify they can be contacted by you in the future, this adds to your client base and ultimately your potential marketing channels.
  • Forums can assist in search engine optimisation (SEO), but this is heavily dependant on the forum software implemented on a website and the skills of your website company.

Cons of having a forum:

  • Regular moderation needs to be done. If your forum is popular, you will need to monitor each of the posts going through. Spammers love forums as it’s a great place to post “spammy” content. Moderators have to keep an eye on each post to ensure that only valid information is displayed on the website and no offensive info gets through onto the live site. Moderation will need to take place on a daily basis. If your are a one man show, this can become a costly and time-consuming process.
  • Large amounts of time and effort is required to get the forum “out there” and “going”.
  • If you offer a service or product, and for some reason you have some unhappy clients – a forum is a fantastic place to make visitors / customer’s complaints public. Moderating your forum will avoid this from happening.

How much will it cost to implement a forum?

Well, luckily there are a number of forum packages available on the internet. Some of them are free, but some do require licensing fees to be paid.

Forums are relatively quick to implement when it’s a pre-built package. If you would like your forum to look like your website, some forum customisation will be required, so additional costs will be charged by your web agency if you plan to go the customised route.

What forum software / packages are available?

There are many and the best is to do a search on the internet and play with the demos. Find links below to articles on forum software available:

Website Caching

Website Caching, pronounced “Website Cashing”, can cause a great deal of frustration in people’s lives.

Ever noticed how when you visit a website for the first time, it loads slower than when you visit it again? This is where caching comes in. Caching takes place in the background and can both be a useful thing and an annoying thing to have around.

Basically, caching is when your browser visits a website and makes a “copy” of the website on your computer. When you visit the site, instead of the website’s images, text, etc being pulled again, it opens the copy on your computer i.e. the “cached” version.

Technically, there are 2 types of caching – “web browser caching” and “server level caching”. The web browser caching can be controlled by the user of the browser, whereby the server level caching can be controlled by the web developers building the website.

Why does Website Caching happen?

Caching has a number of benefits including:

  • Reduces bandwidth – in South Africa, bandwidth can be expensive. Every time a client pulls information from your site, it uses bandwidth. Caching can help reduce the amount of bandwidth used.
  • Better Performance – visitors get less annoyed or frustrated waiting for a site to load as caching gives the impression that the website is loading more quickly / efficiently.
  • Better service performance / load – each time a website is pulled from it’s server, there’s a request being sent to the server and one being sent back to the server. This adds strain / load onto the server. Again, website caching reduces the number of requests that are sent back and forth, thus relieving server performance.

How do I stop caching?

Unfortunately when it comes to server caching, you have no control at all. But, to stop caching on your web browser, it depends on what browser you are using. This setting would typically be available under the Tools -> Options information.

The alternative is when viewing a page on a website that you think is cached, try holding your Ctrl Key down and press refresh a few times – this can often help to ensure that you “pull” the latest version of the page you are viewing. Another way of refreshing the cache is by hitting the CTRL and F5 keys simultaneously.

Skype in a Nutshell

Ever heard of Skype? If not, it’s definitely the time to start familiarizing yourself with this application / facility and it could potentially change your life for the better from saving you telephone costs to helping you stay in touch with family, friends and business partners.

What is Skype?

Skype, in a nutshell, is a piece of software that you install onto your computer and it simply allows you to do FREE calls via the Internet – often referred to now-a-days as VOIP (Voice over Internet Protocol).

It’s hard to believe that one can actually get free calls now-a-days, but it’s true. All you need is an internet connection and for best results, a headset and microphone that you can use to listen and talk through and if you have a suitable connection, a free video calls are also available.

Where do I get Skype?

Skype, like its phone calls, is free and available for download at Skype.com. The site will be able to assist you with any question you may have relating to how you call people, how to set up your Skype account to any support issues you may have.

What about MSN Messenger, ICQ and the other programs I already use to chat to my friends / family?

It’s a matter of preference really, but we tend to use both MSN and Skype as they both popular and both widely used.
Skype is definitely our preference for calls as calls are clearer or of better quality. The Skype application itself is easy and simple to use and quite importantly, calls are secure (encrypted) which is definitely a strong point for those using it in the business world.

You can also chat via Skype as you would via MSN Messenger, Google Talk, etc. Skype has some fun little emoticons as well for those who love using the odd expression in an online chat conversation.

What about people who are NOT on Skype? Can I call them too?

Absolutely, BUT…you will need to buy some Skype credits. Now, before you think there must be a catch, Skype still offers you cheaper call rate for both LOCAL and INTERNATIONAL calls.

What other features could you recommend about Skype?

There’s loads of features and the best would be to check out the Skype website for yourself to familiarize yourself with what is possible.

One very useful facility that we, at Mammoth Solutions, make use of is the facility of having international phone numbers.

For example, we have a UK telephone number and a telephone number in the USA. Our international clients are able to call us in SA at the cost of a local phone call. So, they dial a local number and our Skype phone rings. We are then able to have an overseas conversation at a fraction of the cost of a normal overseas call.

Another useful facility that Skype offers is the fact that it suports conference calling.

Can Skype be integrated into your website?

Yes – you can have a Skype “call me” icon on your website that allows visitors to your website to click the icon and call you on your Skype account. All we do is add a simple line of code that reads “skype:YOURUSERNAME?call” and voila – you can start receiving Skype calls from your website.

Final thoughts…

Skype is a valuable tool and has certainly served Mammoth well. We have numerous international website clients and local clients – and a large number of them call us on Skype. With large projects where we cannot meet our clients regularly, Skype has proven to be a cost-effective and valuable resource.