For every person or company running a website, traffic monitoring is a helpful and often vital tool.
The term traffic monitoring describes the analysis of the behavior of website visitors, which often is essential for optimizing and improving a website. Data provided by monitoring systems can include referring URLs, most-viewed pages, browser versions, operating systems, screen resolutions, and much more. By monitoring website traffic, it is made possible to evaluate the usage of the website and locate strong and weak aspects. A concrete example: A website has been designed for a screen resolution of 1024 x 768 pixels and does not look too good with larger resolutions. However, most of the visitors indeed use larger resolutions, and due to the apparently unoptimized design, some of them relocate to a competitor’s site. Without monitoring traffic, the website owner might not be aware of this problem. With a tracking tool including screen resolutions, however, he is able to find out about it and consequently adapts his website, preventing the loss of visitors due to a bad-looking design.
Technically, there are several ways to prepare reports, with tools based on log file analysis or small scripts being the most popular solutions.
Most web servers automatically generate web logs, which among other details usually include the exact time, date, requested file, IP address, user agent (pointing to a browser), and referring site of the request. These logs, however, are often very long and not suited for getting an overview of the past traffic. To prepare well arranged reports, a variety of free and commercial software for log file analysis is available, these applications can generate reports ranging from simple piecharts to sophisticated overviews.
Regardless of the method, traffic monitoring provides helpful data for improving a website. As such, it is no surprise that the majority of all websites includes visitor tracking systems.