When you manage to capture your web site visitors, understanding how you did it is extremely important to base your future efforts on how to grow your web site traffic. Here are the basic questions you need to answer for each of your visitors:
Where did he came from?
What search phrase he used?
Where did he land on your web site?
The free questions above are the key of understanding your traffic. I lots of cases you will have to drill down further and answer questions like:
Where geographically is your web site visitor from?
What was your rank in the SERP for the phrase he was searching for?
How was your site represented in the SERP for the search phrase he was searching for?
Where did he go on your site?
Where did he go next?
How long was he on the site?
We all know that Google Analytics is the most used online web site log analyzer today. It is free, and Google is ingesting a lot in improving it constantly. But anyone who used it knows very well that although it is probably the best overall service it still lacks the capability to answer half of the questions listed above.
The result is that if you really want to understand your visitors you will have to use multiple web log analyzers. Especially if you have an active site where the content is dynamic and ever changing you will require a real time display of the activity on your web site to understand what do people actually read, when and why. The same article published in the different times of the day will not attract the same numbers of visitors. That and number of similar situations is where you are 100% helpless with just Google Analytics since it’s data is really far from real time, and is not even intended for such use (it is best used as an overview of the historical data).
There are number of tools that can help you to work with the real time data. You can analyse your raw log files yourself with software packages like WebTrends, or you can use the online services. There is a long list of them and each has a number of nice features so your choice will depend on what exactly are you looking for. The online web site visitors tracking services are usually free to begin with and then paid for when your traffic grows.
Search Engine Optimization is like Fishing