Understanding Awstats

Article taken from CodeDCode.com© 2006

Learning to read log files and stats are one of the more important aspects of running a web site. With tools such as the statistics and log files, a user can customize their site to suite the user and tailor it to their needs. Statistics allow use to view many different aspects within a site. Statistics and log files contain a wealth of knowledge and information about a site, including very useful information about the information contained within it. We’ll go over how to read an Awstats page and learn how to utilize the mass amount of information that is given.

Understanding the LayoutThe first step is to understand how Awstats is laid out. The system uses a traditional page design. The main menu is located to the left of all the content, or body. Then in the middle or right of the page is the content. Every thing has its own place and is displayed on one single page. This makes finding any information easier and much faster.

In the very middle and top of the page is the “Reported Period” selection menu. This can be used to view older statistic files. Also above that the date sown is the last date and time the log files were updated. Some users may have the option to “Update Now” which will recalculate the current log files and display up-to-date information. Following the same path to the right, the language selection section can be found. This will allow any user to change the default language to their own or another.

SummaryThe first selection we have will be the summary section. In this section everything contained within the page is summed up into a few simple to read sections. This section will give a user the basic run down for the month as far as stats go. More useful information can be found further down.

Unique VisitorsThe unique visitors section of the summary page will show the amount of “Unique” or different visitors to a page. This is normally the amount asked for by other webmasters. This is a true number of visitors to a site for the current month.

Number of VisitsThe number of visits is the amount of users that come to the site including return visitors. This is the amount of unique visitors combined with return visits. So if a user visits a page more then once in a 12 hour period, each of those visits will be counted and displayed here.

PagesThe pages section displays the amount of pages that have been viewed for the month. This basically shows the amount of pages within a site that have been viewed by users throughout the month.

HitsHits are the amount of visits a site receives plus the amount of connections per user. Each user that displays a web page may make multiple connections to the server to download images, text and any other information that may be needed for the page to display. This is all logged and is displayed as the amount of total hits a site receives.

BandwidthThe bandwidth displays the current bandwidth usage for the month. It also displays the average usage per user. This is the average amount of bandwidth a user may use each visit. This will give a good idea of what the bandwidth usage is like for the month and give a basis for calculating the monthly bandwidth usage.

Monthly HistoryThe monthly history displays pasts months the same way the Summary displays the current month. This will give a short run down of the; unique visitors, number of visits, page views, hits, and bandwidth. Each section is the same as above, with more months to view.

Days of MonthThe days of the month displays each day of the month and the usage statistics for that day. This information will give a user stats for; number of visits, pages, hits, and bandwidth. This information reads the same way all of the above does.

The bottom of this section will give an average and a total. The average is the site averages in; number of visits, pages, hits and bandwidth each day. The total is the same but the total so far for that month. This information can be found under the Summary section also.

Days of WeekThe days of the week displays average stats for each day of the week. This will give a user information on each day and which days out perform others. This is good information for users that release information on a weekly basis. By releasing information or updates on the most popular day of each week, more viewers will see the new information.

HoursThe hour section displays the totals for each hour of the day for that month. This will give useful information to a user about which hour of the day users’ login more often.

HostsThe hosts section displays the top 25 hosts that have visited the site. These are normally users, but in some cases can be search engines and other spidering programs. This section will also display the last time a user visited the site. This will only give the host IP address.

Authenticated UsersAuthenticated users are those that have access to password protected sections of a site. Any section using an .htaccess file to password protect it will be displayed in this section. This lets a webmaster know if someone has access to the site that shouldn’t have. There is also a “Last Visit” section on this, which will display the last time that user accessed the site.

Robots/Spiders VisitorsRobots or Spiders are used by search engines to index a site and the pages within it. This section will display a list of robots/spiders that have hit a site along with the hits and bandwidth for each. It also lists the last time the robot/spider hit the site. This information is very useful for SEO (Search Engine Optimists). This also lets a user know which major search engines haven’t hit their site, so they can submit to them.

Visits DurationThe visits duration will display the average amount of time users stay on the site. This is useful to find out if users are actually staying on the site and using the information provided, or just looking over the site and then leaving. This section will display the number of visits for each time duration, along with the percentage of traffic it makes up. Each time duration is measured in minutes; there is also an hour+.

Files TypesThis section shows the different types of files that are access on the server. It will show the hits the file type received along with it’s percentage of the traffic. This will also show the amount of bandwidth this type of file consumes and the percentage it uses of the total bandwidth used for that month. This is a good section to find out what files are using the most bandwidth.

Page-URLEach time a user visits a page within a site, the system will log where they have went on the server. So if a users’ hit the index file the most, it will be displayed as number one on this section. This also displays more useful information like “Viewed” and “Average Size”. Viewed is the amount of times users have accessed this file total, average size is the average size of the file. Remember that dynamically created pages will not be displayed here, only the handler file.

The Entry and Exit section is can also be very useful. For those of us that practice SEO (Search Engine Optimization) this section is gold. The “Entry” section shows how many users enter the site on that given page compared to the total “Viewed” number. This number is how many users have loaded that page first. The “Exit” section is the same thing, but it shows how many users exited the site from that given page.

Operating SystemsThe operating systems section is just how it sounds. It will display different operating systems and the amount of users that use them. This section also shows the amount of hits and the percentage of traffic that given operating system makes up. This is helpful in determining how many users can view the site the way it was meant to be viewed. Each browser for each operating system will display the site differently. So if the site was optimized for Internet Explorer (Windows) then someone using Konqueror (Linux) will view it differently.

BrowsersJust as the operating systems section, this displays the browsers users use to view a site with. This will also show the amount of users that have hit the site and the percentage of traffic they make up. This is also good in determining which users are viewing the site the way it was meant to be viewed. This will also show which users can’t view the site at all, if a given browser will not load a page correctly.

GrabberThe grabber section of the “Browsers” section will give a simple yes or no. This means that the browser or program is copying or grabbing the files for later use. Allot of offline browsers will do this in order to view a page correctly while being offline. The most common grabber that will be displayed here will be WebCopier. WebCopier is an offline browser that will download an entire site for offline viewing.

Connect to Site FromThe “connect to site from” section is one of the most important sections of the stats log. This section will give a wealth of knowledge if read correctly. Keep in mind this section gives “Pages” which is explained above as how many page views a site receives. It also has “Hits” which is also explained above as how many visits + return visits a site receives. The percentage of traffic each section makes up for is also displayed.

Direct Address/BookmarkThe Direct address/book section is just how it sounds. It will display the amount of users that have visited a site from their own bookmarks or have typed the address in directly through their browsers. These are your return visitors, your community and what makes up for the majority of the traffic to a users site.

Links from News GroupLinks from News Group are links from news groups. This will display the amount of links from any news groups directly to the site or its sub pages.

Links from Internet Search EngineThis is one of the most important sections of a users log file. If a user practices SEO (Search Engine Optimization) then this will be very helpful in determining which search engines are linking to their site and the amount of traffic that is being generated from that given search engine. The two rows of numbers beside each engine are the page views and hits that have been received from that search engine. A link to a full list is also available if all are not listed.

Links from an External PageThis section is setup the same as the links from Internet search engines. It will list links from other sites instead of search engines. This could be a sites affiliates’, anyone linking to a users site, or anything other then search engines. This also gives the page views and hits along the side of each link. This section will also display the total page views and hits along with there percentages.

Search Keyphrases and KeywordsThis is the most important section of the log files, if SEO is practiced. This search keyphrases will display key phrases that users have used to access the site. These are not single keywords; the keywords section will display those. Again each section will display the amount of searches that each key word of phrase quarried along with the percentage of traffic it accounts for.

MiscellaneousThis section displays miscellaneous information about a site. The most important of this section, is the amount of users that have bookmarked the site. Most webmasters use this as a kind of popularity ranker. The more bookmarks verses users for that month, means they are doing something right. The first number is always the amount that accrued and the second is the amount of visits.

HTTP Error CodesThe HTTP error code section displays different errors that have accrued for visitors to the site. This section also displays the amount of hits each error received along with it’s percentage of traffic it accounts for. Also shown here is the amount of bandwidth each error account for.

ConclusionLog files are simple to read once a basic knowledge of them is acquired. Learning to utilize log files and statistic analyzers are an important part of running any site. They will give very useful information about a number of different aspects of a site, as can been seen from the above. They are a vital role in any websites growth and development.

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