My Blog Journal


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I Spy

photo manipulated piece "Gazing upon Pemberley"

Gazing Upon Pemberley - prints available on Etsy.

I can’t praise my web tracker highly enough!
I’ve been using Statcounter for the past couple years, tracking all my visitors to www.taraflyphotos.com … and it has provided me with an overabundance of insight: I don’t necessarily take full advantage of this information, and I accept full responsibility for the limited growth of my business. 

It takes a great deal of work to optimize and market a website, and I find wearing multiple hats (artist, PR relations, publicist, web designer, accountant, etc.) a bit daunting and time-intensive for this Infamous Procrastinator who would much rather be painting, watching period dramas on A+E, and baking honey biscuits. 

 

For those of you with personal websites and blogs that allow HTML-editing access… this is the tracker you should seriously take into consideration.

Test it out! 

Many people are using GoogleAnalytics, which I am forced to use for my Etsy Shop and my Artfire Shop (since individual shop owners are not given access to their pages’ HTML script)…
I haven’t fully examined everything GA has to offer, such as Setting Goals for shop views, however I much prefer the set-up and detailed stats of my personal tracker overall. 

 

StatCounter is an invisible web tracker and hit counter, that provides detailed information about your web viewers. You can set up a free account and create a Project. It provides you with the html code to install on every webpage you want to track.  (I’m tracking all eight pages of my website)
 
They offer free summary stats for the lifetime of your website, with detailed stats for your last 500 visitors (250,000 page loads).  For a sliding fee, you can increase your “log-size”, allowing you to receive detailed stats for a greater number of visitors (up to 25,000 visitors/15,000,000 page loads for $29.00 per month). 

 

I personally find the free stats sufficient for my tiny slice of the web.  I’m currently getting an average of 72 viewers monthly, with page views ranging from 115-174 hits.  With detailed stats of my last 500 visitors, I can research visits in-depth back to mid-July.  In the beginning, I was glued to my stats report, but now I check in about once a month – whenever I remember, or if I want to research a particular spike in sales or activity. 

 

Here is a small slice of my hits for September – I’ve removed the individual ISP addresses in Photoshop:

Visitor stats to TaraFlyPhotos.com for September 2009

Click any of these images to view larger...

The detailed stats report provides a window to gaze upon each visitor: One of my favorite features is the service provider info.

Typically the Host is a telephone or cable company for private users (i.e. Comcast, Verizon, BellSouth) but occasionally I’ll find business servers thrown into the mix.  Companies and facilities providing their own internet services (for employees or patrons) include libraries, schools, government offices, and large private companies.
I’ve been able to identify visiting friends using this information.

An example would be a former classmate who visited my website from a referring Facebook link, while he ate lunch in his office. 
According to StatCounter, the Host was a private advertising company from the D.C. area, the name of which rang a familiar bell to me … so I checked my friends’ Facebook profiles, and discovered the classmate who worked at that very firm. lol   

 

Here is an example of a detailed status report showing a visit from Lily, the owner of TwoStrayCats on Etsy and a good friend of mine. I’ve removed her ISP from this screenshot.

detailed stat visit

Lily's detailed visitor stats - click to view

  You could say that I’m spying on people who visit my site, and you’d be right.  But isn’t that what ALL businesses do online? 
Knowing who your customers are, what they’re searching for, and how they find you, is essential to marketing effectively. 

 

The majority of my visitors who find me via search engines, were using Web Images for their results. JPGs of my artwork matched the keywords in their search, and the visual image drew them inside with a click. 

StatCounter provides the actual search page link, so I can follow it back and view their results… I find it flattering that my artwork caught their eye, on a page packed with related images.
  
Another aspect I like to examine is the Navigation Path. 
Their initial search inquiry led them to a specific page of my website…
but where did they go from there? 
Did they view my artist profile? My art gallery?
Perhaps their interest was piqued enough to check out my online selling venues, like my Etsy Shop

 

Here is the Navigation Path for Lily’s multiple visits to my website.  At one point, she was checking out a small banner (advertising her Etsy shop: TwoStrayCats) that I placed on my Biography page.
Notice the referring link came from an Etsy convo (i.e. private message).

Lily's navigational path on TaraFlyPhotos.com

Lily's navigational path - click to view

I also take note when a visitor does not use a referring link; when they have typed the address directly into their browser, instead of clicking on a provided link. 
It could mean they know my address already, have it bookmarked, copied it from a business card, or simply cut-n-pasted it into their browser after finding it online somewhere. 

 

There are a few flaws with StatCounter that I’ve noticed; the most obvious one is the “length of visit” stats are sometimes a bit off.
When you figure a visit with multiple page-views had to last longer than 0 seconds.  Perhaps I simply haven’t learned to interpret it properly either. lol 

 

Also, don’t take the visitor’s “City” location literally.
People who live in small towns may not have a local internet provider, so their service will be hosted by a neighboring city. (Note Lily’s stats: she does not reside in Red Deer, Alberta, but rather, a small village nearby). 

 

Comparing GA and StatCounter: they feature many of the same tidbits of information – most popular pages, keyword analysis, visitor maps, referring URLs, etc.  Except that for those of you, like myself, who find GA’s layout a bit confusing, you will enjoy the direct approach here.

The summary page will show graphs, for people who like visual pie charts and bar graphs… but I prefer accessing my information as a straight-forward list: 

Exit Links list

Top exit links for visits to www.taraflyphotos.com

As I’ve said, the tools are all here to develop websites (and businesses) into the best they can be. The real challenge is to take these tools and refine the site, maximizing its potential to reach the right crowd, and shedding light upon the dark recesses where folks stumble and lose their way. 

And that, I’m afraid, means shutting off the Arts and Entertainment channel. :_( 

 

3 Comments

  •    Reply

    […] “buy my art here, here, and HERE”. Tossed to the wind, in a matter of speaking. I watch my web-stats like a hawk, using StatCounter.com, and the turn-over is incredible and disheartening. I’ve […]

  •    Reply

    That was a really indepth (at least for me!) analysis of Statcounter. I found you through April’s blog, by the way! All of these analytics are still Greek to me. And the one thing that I wonder about is this: so you have all this info at your fingertips, then what? Even if I went through all the trouble of reading all those stats (the thought makes me want to throw up) I still won’t know what to do with the info. That’s how backward I am. Are there people you can hire for this sort of thing?

    Thanks for sharing all that insight though. It’s the best I’ve come across!

    X

    Azra

    •    Reply

      LOL Azra! I totally wish I could hire someone to do it for ME too!
      I don’t have the money though, or I’d hire accountants and publicists too. :P

      What to do with this info? Well, it depends on what you discover.

      For me, personally, I found areas to improve my site:
      For instance, I had two specific outbound links (showing an example on a different site) that actually led people away and they weren’t returning. Perhaps they started browsing the other site and got lost, or grew bored, who knows. But I decided to keep the photographic examples on MY site… and not tempt them with links to leave. lol

      The stats tell you what people are searching for, when they stumble across your site… many of my visitors were looking for custom wedding (fairytale-style) portraits, and they found the wedding portraits I created during a search through Web Images. Recently I’ve been trying to break away from custom portraits and focus on my own artwork, but I’m reconsidering now, since it seems to be a popular trend for my viewers.
      Perhaps I’ll add more! LOL

      Basically, you look at the how’s and why’s… and see if it matches your vision and goals. If not, you have to decide: do you change to accomodate your current visitors, or do you reinvent your website (tags, content, images) to attract a different group of customers.
      Reinventing a site takes time, though, because Google is stubborn and refuses to let go; when it caches your pages, it basically stereotypes you …according to your original content.
      I deleted some images from my site, and weeks later Google was still referring folks to those images.

      Basically, it’s a pain in the neck. But having the info gives you a place to start. If you didn’t know anything about your viewers’ habits, it would be difficult to decide what’s working and what isn’t.
      Good luck! LOL I do mean that. :)

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