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3. Understanding Traffic Stats and Ripping Them Apart

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Understand Your Traffic

Not all websites are heavily reliant on high volumes of traffic, as odd as this may sound. There are several successful online business models which don't need many human visitors to make a large profit. However, that said, for most sites bought and sold in the marketplace traffic is a key consideration for buyers. And inside information on that traffic is a very valuable resource as it reveals a lot about the merits or otherwise of the business proposition.

But when it comes to traffic stats and web analytics, all is not what it seems.

Apart from confusing terminology, there's also the issue of incorrect tracking by stats programs (big problem) to add to the occasional dubious webmaster activity of doctoring the figures.

Yes, different stats packages record stats in a myriad of ways and none of them may agree with the server logs.

And there are cunning methods sellers can use to "inflate" their traffic figures. Apart from repeated visits from their own PC there are automated systems that can keep hitting the site and driving up the record of visitors. Further, for a small outlay on surreptitiously advertising they can end up showing a high level of traffic just prior to sale. Occasionally, a peak in visitors is genuine - caused perhaps by a mention in the popular press - but unless the buyer recognises the temporary nature of the extra traffic he could end up making wrong pricing or buying decisions.

We'll take you through the terms used and misused in traffic stats, show you where sellers get their stats and how they present them and explain where misinterpretation of figures is most likely and where fraud is most likely. We'll answer questions such as whether javascript programs like Google Analytics are the safer option on traffic stats. More importantly, we've got some ingenious ways of sniffing out suspicious log activity. This is, after all, about due diligence. Start here.


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