If you have a website, you’ll want to know how well it’s doing and how many visitors are coming. There are many different options for this. The vast majority of these options require you to place some tracking code on each page of your site. This is not as difficult as it sounds – the code can simply be inserted into the header, which is common to each and every page.
Getting a quick glance at the overall traffic to your website
If you don’t want to get too bogged down in detail and want to check at a glance how your website is doing traffic-wise, then checking its Alexa rank is a great option. You don’t need to pay or sign up for anything to do this. The Alexa ranking is a score given as to the estimated popularity of your site relative to other sites. The lower the score, the better. Besides the rank, Alexa can also tell you which are some of the popular keywords bringing traffic to your site, what are some similar sites on the internet, how many sites are linking into yours, and so forth.
Alexa is a fantastic metric for giving you a quick picture of the overall “health” of your website, but it’s limiting in a lot of ways. The fact of it being a popularity score means that it can’t tell you how many visitors you actually have, just how popular it is compared to other sites. For example, your Alexa score might jump up (or down) but in fact, your number of visitors might be staying exactly the same – it could come down to something as simple as competitor sites receiving less (or more) traffic than you during that same timeframe, even though your traffic stayed the same.
Measuring your web site’s traffic in detail
Google Analytics is the most popular way to measure website traffic. The reports are easy to understand, and you can see at a glance how many visitors, the city where they are browsing, your site’s most popular pages, and so on. Below a certain threshold of sites and visitors, Google Analytics is free, making it a great starting point.
As popular as it is, Google Analytics has one drawback: Google now knows a lot more than you might want them to about your site. Therefore you might want to look into some Google Analytics alternatives.
Seeing which other sites are linking into yours
The quickest and easiest way to find which other sites link to yours is via the free backlink checker at ahrefs. At a glance you can see not only which sites link to you, but also whether they are via comments and other user-generated content (which is less valuable) or a dofollow link in a regular article (which is more valuable).
Taking a look at your backlinks like this will not give you a direct feel for the number of website visitors you have, but in general, you’re more likely to get traffic if there are more places on the internet for users to find your site.
Domain authority and page authority
Domain authority (DA) and page authority (PA) are metrics that are scored out of 100. These scores do not directly correspond to how a search engine will rank different sites, but it is a very rough approximation of that. Therefore, checking your DA and PA will give you a feel for how well your site is doing compared to other sites, although it will not directly give you any data on how much traffic you have.
Finding traffic that went to pages on your site that do not exist
You can get a surprising amount of insight from looking at the most frequently requested content on your site, regardless of whether that page actually exists. Some of these will be error pages, such as 404’s, where maybe the user is coming from a broken link to a page that used to exist in the past. In that situation, you could maybe think about redirecting those requests to a newer version of that page (if you have one), because otherwise your users will land on your 404 pages “page not found”. This is a great way to convert dead-end traffic into traffic that engages highly with your site.
The easiest way to find this sort of content is by using a server log parser. No tracking code is required; the program runs on your web host and analyses the requests that have come in. My favorite server log parser is Awstats, but there are other alternatives. Many web hosts have several options already built in and running for you, so there’s a good chance that this information is already available to you, you just need to look.
Besides looking for error pages, you can also use traffic to non-existent pages to get a sense of whether your server is getting a lot of malicious requests. You can do this by looking at the URLs that are being requested. If you have requested URLs that look like login pages (but are not from you, or are too many to be explained by your own logins), then you know right away that users have made an attempt to get into your site.
Here we listed some helpful tools for you to determine how well your website is doing in terms of its metrics. All of these together will give you insight into its strengths and weaknesses, which will give you ideas for what you need to do on your site moving forward.
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