Tag: AWStats

Mint

Webmasters undeniably rely on web site statistics to give them a clue as to how their respective sites are doing. Statistics become important in evaluating site changes and even adding new content. For the do-it-yourself webmaster, clear and easy to use stat packages become a necessity, so obviously you want to pick the right web stats program for your site. Your choices range from web services like Google Analytics, to programs that analyse your webserver logs, such as AWStats, or you can choose a script that concentrates on what your web site activity is at the moment. Mint concentrates on just the essential statistics you need, in this way it is a good stats program for webmasters who are not interested in long term analysis. Bloggers in particular will find Mint to be a good alternative to AWStats or Google Analytics, since it can be integrated with most major web blogging scripts like WordPress. If however you are in the need of more in depth reports or eCommerce tracking, then Mint is not for you.

Unwrapped Mint

There are two ways to setup Mint. You can simply add a single line of javascript code to the head tag of your html, or in the case of WordPress, to the header.php template file. The advanced method requires that you have PHP installed as an Apache module and is harder to implement if you are not an experienced webmaster. Since Mint requires javascript, it is unable to track any visits if javascript is disabled. This is usually not a problem for most people, since javascript is now a pretty common requirement. At the time of this writing, Mint also requires Apache, PHP, and MySQL in order to run properly. Most Linux and UNIX based web servers will satisfy these requirements, but Windows servers will not work. Even with all these stipulations, I still found Mint to be an interesting and worthwhile investment.

For $30 per domain, Mint can provide real time stats and unlike other stat packages, it totally ignores bots and spammer scripts. This gives you a more accurate picture of actual hits on your site. Compared to other stats packages, I would say Mint is actually more conservative about hits. On the other side, the standard Mint stats are not very spectacular, fortunately, Mint is expandable. Its plugin architecture allows for new search panes to be added to the standard Mint stats view. These plugins are referred to as peppers. I highly recommend XXX Strong Mint, Sparks!, and Fresh View. You can find more peppers on the Peppermint Tea page.

WordPress & Mint

If you run WordPress and use ShortStat, you might be wondering if Mint is worth the price of admission. The advantage of Mint is that you can track static html pages as well as your WordPress blog. Other than that, the other big difference is that ShortStat registers way too many hits from search engines and bots as regular hits. Mint is more accurate or you might say conservative in its hit tracking. In my opinion, if you receive moderate traffic above fifty actual hits from actual visitors you probably could benefit from Mint. Technically, thirty dollars is not a lot of money these days, so Mint is a pretty good value considering how much commercial web site tracking software costs.

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Understanding Web Stats

You ever watch tv and catch one of those commercials where people are sitting around a board room and the topic of discussion is some business decision and the head guy asks for the stats? Those commercials are suppose to be funny because statistics are boring, but more importantly most people do not understand what they mean! When you run your own web site, you have the same problem, but since your site is the main concern, you might not see the humor in it. All web servers keep logs and so you have all the information you could ever want about your site, but interpretting any meaning from these logs is something which you need help with. I know I certainly find web stats a lot more interesting when a program like AWStats goes ahead and shows me some nice graphs instead of just lines and lines of boring text.

Better Stats with AWStats

In cPanel, you usually have AWStats which is a basic stats package that will show you the main things you want to know, like who visited your site, what pages on your site are the most popular, and so on. There is also a basic Error Log, this is pretty useful to at least look at to see if perhaps you have a missing image file that your site keeps referring to, or if one of your scripts is asking for something repeatedly and is not finding it. If the Error Log is clean, then yes, that is a good thing. If you have some errors then you might try to look into what is wrong or simply realize that this was a one time error and not worry about it. Most times you will be using AWStats to see how your site is doing daily. However, cPanel also lets you download your raw web server logs for your site. These are incredibly more useful if you purchase a third party program. For now let’s get back to AWStats and see just what to look for:

The Summary section at the top shows you: Unique visitors, Number of visits, Pages, Hits, and Bandwidth totals. The most important stat here is the Unique Visitors. This is how many different browsers are accessing the site. This is more of a true indication of how popular your site is than Number Of Visits or Hits.

Scrolling down the AWStats report, you can see how many hits and visits you have per month, per week, per day, per hour. This is helpful in determing your peak usage, when your site is actually the most visited.

Further down you will find Hosts and Robots/Spiders sections. This will tell you who is visiting your site the most. If you are your site’s number one host, perhaps your site is not as popular as you may think. The Robots/Spiders section is useful in seeing how much bandwidth these non-human vistors are taking up.

The Pages-URL section lists the most popular pages on the site and this should prove useful if you have ads on certain pages or if you want to know if a particular section of your site is popular or not.

The Connect-To-Site-From, Search Keyphrases, and Search Keywords sections are crucial if you are working on getting search engines to link your site. These sections are really about how some users are finding their way to your site. You can use this information to understand further how your internet audience is thinking when they try to locate sites similar to yours.

The last section, HTTP Error Codes, is more informative about what is not working on your site. Knowing which pages vistors are not finding is crucial, because you want to keep visitors on your site and the best way to do that is to make sure they do not wind up going to a dead-end, like a page that no longer exists on your site.

More Stats

Once you start to get interested in your stats, you might find AWStats limiting or perhaps you just developed an obsession with looking at stats in general, so you might want to purchase third party software and download your own web server logs. There are also other options like setting up a different program similar to AWStats or paying a stat service to keep tabs on your site. The following links should prove helpful for further reading.

The Dollars And Sense of Web Analytics is a good summary of web stats in general and what a typical business site owner might want to know about stats.

We also have covered web stats in our WebKeyDesign Forum. Feel free to post questions there and view the following posts:

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