By Michael Scannell
See who's visiting
It always surprises me how few website owners use the analytics packages which come free with cPanel hosting. And yet there is a wealth of fascinating information here about visitors to your site—where they come from, which pages they land on, which pages they look at, how long they stop—even simply how many of them there are.
Maybe it's the dull words ‘statistics’ and ‘analytics’ that put people off. But aren't you curious to find out as much as you can about your visitors?
In the X theme for cPanel as set up by Web Costa Blanca, this is in the third row, between FrontPage® Extensions and Raw Access Logs. Click on it, and you get a menu page from which you can run 8 different programs (in the standard setup).
Michael is the Web Costa Blanca webmaster.
He has worked on many Web sites, both large and small, in Spain and the UK.
There is a short explanation under each name. Here I'll tell you a bit more about the ones I think you'll find most interesting and most useful.
Since many of the other more interesting reports refer to ‘failed requests’, you may find it useful to glance at this, the dullest of all the programs. It will show you the files that a browser expected to find on your site, but could not locate.
If there are missing images here that you recognise, or even missing pages, then you have probabaly updated your site recently and forgotten to change file names in some of your links. Much more likely, however, is that you will see a list of files you know nothing about: probably favicon.ico and pages which have numbers for names and the extension .shtml.
The icon is the little image you often see in the address bar when you visit a particular site—and in your list of bookmarked sites, or Favorites. (Microsoft translates this into French and Spanish for the French and the Spanish, but forces the American spelling on the English.) If you want one, you have to make one—or ask whoever designed your site to make one for you. You don't need it, and nothing goes wrong on your site if it isn't there.
The pages which have numbers for names and the extension .shtml are custom error pages, which display something personal to your site in a browser when something goes wrong, like the visitor mistyped the name of one of your pages. You can read more about them on our Services page. Again, you have to create these yourself, or ask someone to create a set of them for you. (Web Costa Blanca charges a fee for this service, but I waive it for clients who have subscribed to our Webmaster Services. They only have to ask.)
These are the 3 programs you will find most interesting to look at. These are the programs that tell you how many visitors you have had, where in the world they come from, which are your popular pages, and all the rest of it. They all have colourful graphs and charts to make the information easier to take in. They all allow you to see what changes happen day by day, and month by month.
There is a huge overlap between these programs. Look at all three, then pick the one which has the most information of the kind you are interested in, or which you think presents it in the most interesting way. (As a Web site developer, I look at all three, but tend to stay a bit longer in Awstats.)
This is a pure text list. Sounds dull—but if you want to follow the movements of individual visitors, after or before taking in the colourful summaries in the big programs, there's nothing to beat it.