Take the 2-minute tour ×
Programmers Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for professional programmers interested in conceptual questions about software development. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Is it true that to know how many visitors visit my website, some kind of tracking code had to placed within that page itself, and there is no other way around it?

Even if we use something like Google Analytics indirectly they are also placing some kind of tracking script within our pages right?

Or is it true that even there are no tracking script within my page, someone (some authority?) will have access to this info?

share|improve this question
6  
Analyse your web server log files. –  user2567 Jul 24 '11 at 14:15
1  
@Pierre You should expand on that and make it an answer. –  Thomas Owens Jul 24 '11 at 14:57
    
Are you tracking unique human visitors or are you measuring the workload? –  JeffO Jul 24 '11 at 22:12
    
@Jeff both of course –  Pacerier Jul 25 '11 at 1:35
    
@Pierre could you elaborate on that? –  Pacerier Jul 25 '11 at 1:43

3 Answers 3

up vote 5 down vote accepted

If you don't want to put a tracking code on all your pages, another solution would be to analyze your web server log files. It will provides you with many advantages over javascript tracking method.

Server Side (all are free):

Client Side (you need to download log files):

Advantages of log file analysis over page tagging (tracking):

  • No need to worry about the tag when you edit pages, everything is tracked by default
  • Access to images, videos, css and all type of files are tracked, not just HTML pages (dynamic or not)
  • You can keep all your old log files and archive them (I still have log files of the last millenium!)
  • You can change your analysis software when you want, log files are written in a standard format you can use in any solution.
  • Log files also record all errors that occurs on your website, including errors 404 and other server errors.
  • Every visitor is tracked, even those who disable javascript.

Few disadvantages I know:

  • You must have access to your log files, but most hosting companies now provide direct access to them.
  • Page tracking doesn't suffer from caching (proxies) as much as log file solution.
  • Javascript based tracking (tag) can track more data within the page such as shopping cart total purchase value.

I personally use both: a free Google Analytics account + AWStats.

share|improve this answer
    
+1 for log file analysis tools –  good_computer Jul 25 '11 at 7:01
    
am i right to say all solutions done personally or employed by a service essential boil down to either analyzing server web logs or saving the data in a database? And there is no other magic beyond this right? –  Pacerier Jul 25 '11 at 9:45
    
@Pacerier: yes depending on your goal, either solution can be done. I track specific things using custom code, and site wide analytics (including error detection) is done via log files analyzing –  user2567 Jul 25 '11 at 9:49

You could write a simple script that would count the no. of visitors by IP address.

But of course if you want sophisticated analytics -- then there is no point reinventing the wheel -- explore the available solutions and choose the one that fits your reqs (and whose dashboard makes you happy). Some good ones are...

  • Google Analytics
    • [+] newbie's Go To thing
    • [+] it's Google
    • [+] You can get lot's of tutorials
    • [+] easy to set up and get started
    • [-] your data is in google's hands
    • [-] lot's of dashboards and features may be overkill for you
  • Piwik
    • [+] open source
    • [+] you can integrate with your website
    • [+] your data remains YOURS -- no one can touch/use it
    • [+] plug-in architecture -- can be extended to do more
    • [-] since it's all YOURS, the related hassles have to be handled -- which includes setting up, configuring, maintenance, upgrade, security, etc.
  • some others - not doing pros/cons as i don't have much experience with these
    • (http://www.quantcast.com/) - very popular and very good, free
    • Woopra - real-time analytics
    • clicky - real-time analytics

Additionally read this article.

-- update --

  • if you absolutely can't stand any tracking code in your page -- look at Pierre 303's answer
  • ...someone (some authority?) will have access to this info... -- NO
share|improve this answer
    
heys take a look at my edit –  Pacerier Jul 25 '11 at 1:43

If you want to simply know how many times your page / site was visited, them you need only to see what information your webserver gives you. It can tell you haw many pages were viewed, how many times each page was viewed...

If you want to know about unique visitors, you can aso get that from the logs of your webserver.

If you want to know information about visitor that returned after some days, even if they IP address was changed by their ISP, then you need a better approach, using cookies.

And for all that, you can also take a look at google analytics and other tools, as the other answer told you.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.