Using Awstats to Understand Your Website Traffic

BY ALEX TRAN

Awstats is an in-depth statistics program that is usually available free with your cpanel hosting. This guide will show you how to understand it’s various reports.

Step 1: Get to Know Awstats

To start, open your cpanel and click on the Awstats icon that looks like this:

Once you’ve opened it, you’ll come to your home page screen that provides you with a snapshot of your overall traffic stats for the current month and a comparison of previous months.

You can change your month view anytime through the drop down box near the top of the screen. You can even see the whole year at glance if you’d like. Choose your month and year and click “OK”:

Next you’ll see a summary for the month you are looking at. It shows your number of unique visitors, total visitors (“number of visitors”), page views, hits and bandwidth.

On the far left of the screen…

Let’s define the important terminology in the screen above.

  • Unique Visitors: Awstats determines to be a unique visitor to be a person or computer that made at least one hit on one page in the current report period. In this case, in 1 month. This is tracked by IP, so any visitors using the same IP will be counted only once.
  • Number of Visits: This is the number of visits made by all visitors, even if they return many times over. That is why this number is much higher than the Unique Visitors number.

Then further right on the screen, you’ll see:

Let’s define these important terms as well:

  • Pages: Number of pages viewed by all visitors. According to Awstats, “Pages are usually HTML, PHP or ASP files, not images or other files requested as a result of loading a “Page” (like js,css… files).”
  • Hits: Includes any files requested by visitors and includes pages, images and other files not included in “Pages”.
  • Bandwidth: Total number of bytes used for loading pages, files, etc.

As you continue further down, you’ll see an info graphic and table that gives you a yearly overview and comparison of your website statistics.

Notice above, that the graphical description allows you to compare your unique visitors, visit, pages, hits and bandwidth month by month and is color-coded to match the color of each column in the table. For example, “Unique visitor” is shown in orange in the info graphic and yellow depicts “Number of visits”.

As you scroll down the page, you can see a daily comparison for that month. Unique visitors are not included because unique visitors are tracked on a monthly basis. In the example below, it clearly shows the 27th of September as the busiest day.

The next piece of information you will find is a days of the week comparison that shows nunmber of pages, hits and bandwidth on given days. In thiscase, Mondays appear to be the busiest days for this website.

Keep scrolling past that for an hourly comparison of your site traffic. You can see which hours of the day tend to be the busiest. The site in our example appears to have fairly steady traffic throughout the day with peek hours between 2 and 4 pm (server time).

Further down, you’ll see the countries most of your visitors are from. It also has a graphical comparison of the pages, hits and bandwidth for each country. You can click the “Full List” link and see a complete countries report.

Next is a “Host” report which shows you the IPs accessing your site. You can click the links to see a “Full List” and other information. In addition to pages, hits and bandwidth, this report shows you the time of the last visit from that IP.

Scroll down further to see an “Authenticated Users” report. This allows you to see who has logged into your site (FTP, cpanel, etc). Generally speaking, these will only be one main user, unless you assign others access to your site via cpanel. This does not count user access through WordPress, forums or other scripts residing on your iste.

Next you can see “Robots/Spiders” visit report that will show you how often search engines are visiting and when the last visit took place. You can see that Google’s robot, “Googlebot” has made 408 hits to the site and last visited on September 30.

Further down is a “Visits Duration” report that shows how long visitors are staying on your site. As you can see below, 69.8% of visitors only stay 0-30 seconds and only 1.4% stay for over an over hour.

The next report shows what types of files your visitors are accessing. In this case, 73.7% of the files are jpg images and only 22.5% are HTML pages. This is not unusual if you have a site that has several images per page.

Scrolling down, you will see a “Pages/URL” report that shows the most popular pages of your site. You can click the “Full Site” link to see all the pages that are being viewed. If you click “Entry”, you’ll see the most popular pages that people enter your site from. And if you click “Exit”, you’ll see the most popular pages they exit your site from.

Looking at the example below, it looks like almost half the people who come to the home page, actually go on to view another page before leaving the site.

The next two reports show you information about your visitors’ computers. They show the operating systems and the web browsers they used to access your website. You can click for a full list and even see the versions of the operating systems and web browsers they use.

In the report below, it’s clear that a large percentage of the visitors access the site on Windows, using MS Explorer.

Here’s an example of the “Full list/Versions” report for Browsers:

In the above case, you can see that for Explorer users, most are using version 8.0. While you want your site to be as compatible to all browsers as much as possible, this information can help you determine where to focus your current optimization efforts.

The next report shows you how people are accessing your site. The first part of the report shows the number of pages came directly, from a bookmark or email. It also shows number of page views and the percentage of total page views.

Below that, you can see the number of page views from traffic using search engines. In the example below, 39.6% of the website’s visitors comes from search engines.

Further down, you can see page views from that came from links on other websites.

If you scroll further, you can see your keyword reports. The report on the left is likely more valuable to you and shows the keyword phrases that people enter to visit your site. The report on the right shows individual keywords that are popular, but don’t really give you any insight into what the visitor was looking for.

Step 2: Navigating Awstats

In order to navigate more quickly through Awstats, you can find all the reports on the left menu at anytime. There is no need to scroll through the main report each time you visit the site.

As an online business owners, some of the more common reports you will likely look at are your:

  • When -> Monthly and When -> Days of month history to compare your monthly and daily traffic
  • When -> Days of week and When -> Hours and hourly history to see your high traffic periods.
  • Navigation -> Viewed -> Full List, so you can see your more popular pages and possibly focus on monetizing those pages.
  • Referrers -> Origin -> Referring sites to see the results of your article distribution, guest blogging and other links to your site.
  • Referrers -> Search -> Search keyphrases to see what keyword phrases visitors are using to find your site.
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