Web traffic can be a complex thing in the digital age. Here are some basic rules and tips to help you understand and manage your traffic:
Those Deceiving Cookies
Cookies (AKA small pieces of code that log a user’s visit) don’t always give you an accurate idea when it comes to site visits. If someone uses two different browsers – Firefox and Safari, for example – or different computers to visit a site, cookies will log these visits as two separate people, inflating your numbers.
Consider your audience, too – if they’re tech-savvy (like you!), they might be logging on with a number of different devices and browsers. If your audience is composed of, say, students or an underserved population, there may be multiple people logging onto your site on one computer… meaning only one cookie (not the correct measurement term, but just go with it) for you and your website.
The solution? Well, there isn’t really a set solution. Analytics from Google and WordPress can give you a general idea of audience numbers. Companies like Nielsen, comScore, Quantcast.com, and Compete.com advertise expanded services that include visitor numbers and demographic data on gender, and household income using something called “panel technology.” This kind of technology looks at the behaviors of large groups of web users and uses stats to make conclusions about Internet usage. However, the panels aren’t exact, so your numbers won’t be, either.
To sum up: look at your business, look at your audience, evaluate your needs and your budget, and you’ll be just fine.