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Web Stats Definitions and Information

How Do I Request Web Stats?

 

In order to request web stats for your site, simply send an e-mail to webhosting@nethere.com and we will enable stats for you. 

 

How Do I Check Web Stats?

 

To check your web stats for your site, type http://www.yourdomainname.com/stats into the address bar of your web browser. 

 

 

What is The Webalizer?

 

The Webalizer is a web server log file analysis program that produces usage statistics in HTML format for viewing with a browser.  The results are presented in both columnar and graphical format, which facilitates interpretation.  Yearly, monthly, daily and hourly usage statistics are presented, along with the ability to display usage by site, URL, referrer, user agent (browser), search string, entry/exit page, username and country (some information is only available if supported and present in the log files being processed). 

 

Output Produced

 

The Webalizer produces several reports (html) and graphics for each month processed.  The files produced are:

 

The yearly (index) report shows statistics for a 12 month period, and links to each month. 

 

The monthly report has detailed statistics for that month with additional links to any URL's and referrers found.

 

The various totals shown are explained below.

 

Hits

 

  Any request made to the server which is logged, is considered a 'hit'.

The requests can be for anything, html pages, graphic images, audio files, CGI scripts, etc...  Each valid line in the server log is counted as a hit.  This number represents the total number of requests that were made to the server during the specified report period.

 

Files

 

  Some requests made to the server, require that the server then send something back to the requesting client, such as an html page or graphic image.  When this happens, it is considered a 'file' and the files total is incremented.  The relationship between 'hits' and 'files' can be thought of as 'incoming requests' and 'outgoing responses'.

 

Pages

 

  Generally, any HTML document, or anything that generates an HTML document, would be considered a page.  This does not include the other items that go into a document, such as graphic images, audio clips, etc. This number represents the number of 'pages' requested only, and does not include the other items that are in the page.  What actually constitutes a 'page' can vary from server to server.  The default action is to treat anything with the extension '.htm', '.html', .php, .asp, .aspx, .shtml or '.cgi' as a page.  Some other programs refer to this as 'Pageviews'.

 

Sites

 

  Each request made to the server comes from a unique 'site', which can be referenced by a name or ultimately, an IP address.  The 'sites' number shows how many unique IP addresses made requests to the server during the reporting time period.  This DOES NOT mean the number of unique individual users (real people) that visited, which is impossible to determine using just logs and the HTTP protocol.  However, this number might be about as close as you will get.

 

Visits

 

  Whenever a request is made to the server from a given IP address (site), the amount of time since a previous request by the address is calculated (if any).  If the time difference is greater than a pre-configured 'visit timeout' value (or has never made a request before), it is considered a 'new visit', and this total is incremented (both for the site, and the IP address).  The default timeout value is 30 minutes (can be changed), so if a user visits your site at 1:00 in the afternoon, and then returns at 3:00, two visits would be registered.

Note: in the 'Top Sites' table, the visits total should be discounted on 'Grouped' records, and thought of as the "Minimum number of visits" that came from that grouping instead.  Note: Visits only occur on PageType requests, that is, for any request whose URL is one of the 'page' types defined with the PageType option.  Due to the limitation of the HTTP protocol, log rotations and other factors, this number should not be taken as absolutely accurate, rather, it should be considered a pretty close "guess".

 

KBytes

 

  The KBytes (kilobytes) value shows the amount of data, in KB, that was sent out by the server during the specified reporting period.  This value is generated directly from the log file, so it is up to the web server to produce accurate numbers in the logs.  In general, this should be a fairly accurate representation of the amount of outgoing traffic the server had, regardless of the web servers reporting quirks.

 

Note: A kilobyte is 1024 bytes, not 1000.

 

Top Entry and Exit Pages

 

  The Top Entry and Exit tables give a rough estimate of what URL's are used to enter your site, and what the last pages viewed are.  Because of limitations in the HTTP protocol, log rotations, etc., this number should be considered a good "rough guess" of the actual numbers.  However this will give a good indication of the overall trend in where users come into, and exit, your site.

 

 

Notes on Referrers

 

Referrers take many shapes and forms, which makes it much harder to analyze than a typical URL, which at least has some standardization.  What is contained in the referrer field of your log files varies depending on many factors, such as what site did the referral, what type of system it comes from and how the actual referral was generated.  Why is this?  Well, because a user can get to your site in many ways. They may have your site book marked in their browser, they may simply type your sites URL field in their browser, they could have clicked on a link on some remote web page or they may have found your site from one of the many search engines and site indexes found on the web.  The Webalizer attempts to deal with all this variation in an intelligent way by doing certain things to the referrer string, which makes it easier to analyze. 

 

Most referrer's will take the form of "http://somesite.com/somepage.html", which is what you will get if the user clicks on a link somewhere on the web in order to get to your site.  Some will be a variation of this, and look something like "file:/some/such/name", which is a reference from a HTML document on the users local machine.  Several variations of this can be used, depending on what type of system the user has, if he/she is on a local network, the type of network, etc.  To complicate things even more, dynamic HTML documents and HTML documents that are generated by CGI scripts or external programs produce lots of extra information which is tacked on to the end of the referrer string in an almost infinite number of ways.  If the user just typed your URL into their browser or clicked on a bookmark, there won't be any information in the referrer field and will take the form "-".

 

In order to handle all these variations, The Webalizer parses the referrer field in a certain way.  First, if the referrer string begins with "http", it assumes it is a normal referral and converts the "http://" and following hostname to lowercase in order to simplify hiding if desired.  For example, the referrer "HTTP://WWW.MyHost.Com/This/Is/A/HTML/Document.html" will become "http://www.myhost.com/This/Is/A/HTML/Document.html".  Notice that only the

"http://" and hostname are converted to lower case... The rest of the referrer field is left alone.  This follows standard convention, as the actual method (HTTP) and hostname are always case insensitive, while the document name portion is case sensitive.

 

Referrers that came from search engines, dynamic HTML documents, CGI scripts and other external programs usually tack on additional information that it used to create the page.  A common example of this can be found in referrals that come from search engines and site indexes common on the web.  Sometimes, these referrers URL's can be several hundred characters long and include all the information that the user typed in to search for your site.  The Webalizer deals with this type of referrer by stripping off all the query information, which starts with a question mark '?'.  The Referrer "http://search.yahoo.com/search?p=usa%26global%26link" will be converted to just "http://search.yahoo.com/search".

 

When a user comes to your site by using one of their bookmarks or by typing in your URL directly into their browser, the referrer field is blank, and looks like "-".  Most sites will get more of these referrals than any other type.  The Webalizer converts this type of referral into the string "- (Direct Request)".  This is done in order to make it easier to hide via a command line option or configuration file option.  This is because the character "-" is a valid character elsewhere in a referrer field, and if not turned into something unique, could not be hidden without possibly hiding other referrers that shouldn't be.

 

Search String Analysis

 

  The Webalizer will do a minimal analysis on referrer strings that it finds, looking for well-known search string patterns.  Most of the major search engines are supported, such as Yahoo!, Altavista, Lycos, etc...  Unfortunately, search engines are always changing their internal/CGI query formats, new search engines are coming on line every day, and the ability to detect _all_ search strings is nearly impossible.  However, it should be accurate enough to give good indication of what users were searching for when they stumbled across your site. 

 

Notes on Visits/Entry/Exit Figures

 

The majority of data analyzed and reported on by The Webalizer is as accurate and correct as possible based on the input log file. However, due to the limitation of the HTTP protocol, the use of firewalls, proxy servers, multi-user systems, the rotation of your log files, and a myriad of other conditions, some of these numbers cannot, without absolute accuracy, be calculated.  In particular, Visits, Entry Pages and Exit Pages are suspect to random errors due to the above and other conditions.  The reason for this is twofold, 1) Log files are finite in size and time interval, and 2) There is no way to distinguish multiple individual users apart given only an IP address.  Because log files are finite, they have a beginning and ending, which can be represented as a fixed time period.  There is no way of knowing what happened previous to this time period, nor is it possible to predict future events based on it.  Also, because it is impossible to distinguish individual users apart, multiple users that have the same IP address all appear to be a single user, and are treated as such.  This is most common where corporate users sit behind a proxy/firewall to the outside world, and all requests appear to come from the same location (the address of the proxy/firewall itself).  Dynamic IP assignment used with dial-up internet accounts also present a problem, since the same user will appear as to come from multiple places.



 

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