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Analyzing Log Files for Profit

     You might already know the importance of analyzing server logs, but not all log analyzers are suitable for business use.


     Once you own a business, you should figure out the profit, and make sure your business is always profitable. Let's say you bought two $100 advertisements at the same time, and you used the query string, "?ad-1" and "?ad-2." Then, you got the following statistics of viewed pages.









From these stats, you can see that ad 1 generated more traffic to your site than ad 2, but you cannot see where the 500 sales came from. It is possible that ad 2 could generate more sales than ad 1. Or, maybe neither ad generated any sales at all; maybe all 500 orders were made by visitors via search engines.

Statistics of Click Trail

     To find out who bought, you need the statistics of the click trail (or content path), which looks like this.




page1.htm → page5.htm → page3.htm → page8.htm


page2.htm → page3.htm → page6.htm

It says 78 visitors browsed your site by following the path indicated above, 45 visitors took other paths, and so on. Here are a few vendors of log analyzers with click trails.

Also, you can read reviews of log analyzers .

Accurate Profits

     Going back to the above example, when you count entries of click trails, like

home.html?ad-1 → (omit) → order_confirmation_page.html and
home.html?ad-2 → (omit) → order_confirmation_page.html,

you can see how many sales or how much profit each ad made. Now, you can make decisions based on profitability. For example, when you analyzed the click trails, you could see that ad 1 generated only $80 in sales, while ad 2 made $3,000 in sales. It is clear that buying ad 2 was a good investment, but buying ad 1 was just wasting money, even though ad 1 sent you more people. If you were checking only statistics of viewed pages, you would buy ad 1 again, and lose money again, wouldn't you?

     Log files don't tell you anything by themselves. But, once you analyze logs correctly, you will get lots of useful information. That would be the best advice you can get.

© January, 2003