Understanding Web Statistics

Exposures, impressions, click-throughs and refferals, and how to measure them. April 18, 2003

What are exposures or impressions?
A banner ad receives an exposure or impression each time a user visits the web page where the banner resides. The opportunity to view the advertisement and read the message is there whenever the user visits that page. This opportunity is similar to that offered the viewer when he’s exposed to traditional advertising whether he’s looking at a billboard while driving the highway or turning the pages of a magazine. Brand recognition and product awareness are the result. When a woodworker thinks about a particular product we want him to remember your company.

What are click-throughs and referrals? How do I track them?
Visitors arrive at your web site in one of three ways:
** A web user clicks on a link found at a web site and travels to your site.
** A web user enters your web address in his browser and travels to your site.
** A web user visits your site as a result of a search.

Each visit to your site from another web site is a click-through. Every click-through is registered in your web site’s server log, and indicates which web site was responsible for directing a web user to your web site. This log entry is known as a “referral”.

Visitors who click on a link to your web site arrive with a click-through marker that indicates where they came from. These markers can be tracked and tallied, and the tallied information can be used to compare how many click-throughs were generated by a given website.

For example:
If you visit the XYZ website, locate a link to ABC Machine Company, and click on that link, you arrive at the ABC Machine website carrying a click-through marker that indicates you came from the XYZ website.

Likewise, if you visit the WOODWEB website, locate a link to the ABC Machine company, and click on the link, you arrive at the ABC Machine website carrying a click-through marker that indicates that you came from the WOODWEB website.

Measuring and understanding the data

A statistics analysis program will report where your web site visitors have come from by analyzing your server logs and counting referrals. Your Internet service provider will usually install this program at your request. This program will offer interesting and valuable insights about traffic coming to and traveling through your website.

Many of these programs offer a simple report of the “Top 30 referring URLs” that may not provide accurate information on who directs the most visitors to your web site. “Top 30” style reporting tools assume that only one link from any particular Internet web site leads to your company’s site. WOODWEB contains **thousands** of links (referring URL's) to your company’s site and when click-throughs from these links are combined they will likely indicate that WOODWEB is your most significant source of traffic.

A recent analysis of a WOODWEB customer’s stats log revealed over 500 unique referring URLs to that company’s site during an 18 month period originating from woodweb.com. Many of these links were clicked hundreds of times, and some links were clicked only once or twice. Combined, these referring URLs accounted for thousands of click-throughs to the company site and most of them would never have been revealed had the company relied on the report that only showed the “Top 30” referring URLs.

To get a complete understanding of which Internet sites direct the most traffic to your company’s site your statistics analysis must show **all** click-throughs originating from a particular domain.

If you have any questions about web traffic or the many ways WOODWEB brings you the best exposure possible, feel free to give me a call at 570-278-5316. I’ll be happy to help in any way I can.

Michael Poster