Gary L. Simmons  rev 06/17/03  webwonks.org/WebBuilding/PageHitCounters.html
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Page Hit Counters

At sometime or another you are going to be curious just how many people are stumbling onto your page(s). This is especially handy if you have just registered your site with a search engine and you are courious if the way you set it up was successful. Keep in mind this will just be a raw count of the people, including yourself, who have hit the page. Page hit counters in no way quantify the amount of enjoyment or   worth a visitor has or hasn't experienced at your site. Installing a page hit counter requires you to copy and paste some CGI code into the HTML of your page source. This CGI is always provided to you. Just paste in into the portion of the the body of your page where you want the counter to appear. It couldn't be easier. When someone hits your page a signal is sent to the hit count provider and they return the number of hits as a graphic.

  • In General

    A normal page hit counter works something like this. You register your URL with a page hit counter service. They put your URL in a database and give you a graphic to display with an HREF that is linked back to their server. When someone visits your page their browser requests the graphic from the hit count server, the URL of the requesting page is looked up in the hit count server's database, the corresponding count field is incremented by one and the new count is used to return a graphic with the right hit count number on it to the browser. A counter can be an invisible one, the visitor sees nothing but you get a report in email. A service tends to be free however you must sign up for it so my guess is that they want your email address to sell. This is typical. I like to give such people a non personal email address that I have reserved for just such occasions. It is real, it is mine, but I almost never check the mail there because it is almost all spam. Anyway I don't mean to trash these folks, they are doing nothing illegal and that is just how it works, there is no free lunch and nobody should expect one.

  • Ask your host for a page counter

    In many cases you can get a page hit counter from the ISP who is hosting your web site. Read the FAQ your host provides.

  • Hitometer is no longer available for new sign ups

    Hitometer is not closed down yet but you will not be able to get a new account there any more. That is a shame too because this was my favorite page hit counter. I had to quit using Hitometer because I like to check Earthlink's Urchin reports and then update my Hitometer account to more accurately reflect the actual number of visitors to my site. This is no longer allowed, therefore, I'm gone.

  • Site Meter has a counter for you

    Site Meter offers a small variety of hit counters for you to choose from and they supply you with an email report as well as some online reporting. I used this one for about a year. It is not as cool as Hitometer was but at least they are fully functional and offer features Hitometer did not have. If you click on the graphic you are taken to the Site Meter page for a full report with extensive features. Very slick. When someone asks me to refer them to a site counter, this is the one I tell them about. I have abandoned interactive page counters altogether these days as they only reflect the activity of one page, not an entire site. I prefer to look up my full stats using Urchin and type in the number at the bottom of the page.

  • Shell out the bucks for extensive features

    MyComputer.com offers a premium counter service for commercial sites but requires you to pony up some cash for it. This information is important for your business to know and is worth it if you are a business minded person. For your filthy lucre you get:
    • Site Traffic Reports — Learn how many visitors come to your site, how many pages they view and which pages on your site are the most popular.
    • Marketing Reports — Learn which sites send you the most traffic, how long your visitors spend on your site and on each page.
    • Visitor Profile Reports — See where your visitors are coming from, what languages they speak, what software they use to browse your site and detailed breakdowns of who your last 100 visitors were.
    • Site Path Reports — See how your visitors navigate through your site, where they are leaving from and what pages they need to reload. .

  • An invisible hit counter

    Direct Hit offers an invisible hit counter. This appears to be free. When you sign up, they ask for your location and a category to place your site in. I get the sneaking suspicion something is going on here behind the scenes but I am always wrong, just ask my wife. Here is the hype they have on their page:
    • Tracks your entire web site not just one page.
    • Invisible Tracking no visible image has to be placed on your pages.
    • Refer Tracking for every page on your site.
    • Password protected.
    • Track multiple web sites from the same account.
    • Time zone corrected to track in your time zone.
    • Base version does not set any cookies on users browsers.
    • Detail reports for every page on your site.
    • Over 2200 categories to register under.
    • Businesses receive a free business listing.
    • Can be used in conjunction with any other counters.

  • For the snooty snob with his blue blooded cultured nose stuck in the air...

    ...there is the Museum of Counter Art. They boast 500 sets of counter digit artwork to choose from. Although billed as free it will cost you your email address. You WILL find something you like here though, interesting just to browse through. To use the counter art you need to go through The Ultimate Counter site where you do the actual sign up and registering. It is as simple as 1-2-3. You register, visit the museum to pick out your counter art, then return and configure your counter.

  • There are many more free page hit counters out there

    Use a search engine to find more if these do not trip your triggers, but I think there is a nice variety here to choose from. Search using, "page hit counter" and you will find a butt load. Remember, I in no way endorse any of these page counters, I am only reporting their existence. I have however used Hitometer and Site Meter and I have no complaints about them.

  • EarthLink's page hit counters

    Here is something very cool I just discovered this month about my ISP, Earthlink. EarthLink customers, such as myself can use the EarthLink Urchin Visitor Reporting. EarthLink describes it as, "a top-tier visitor traffic analysis and reporting tool designed to provide critical insight on a Web site's user activity". And they are not just expelling that out their hineys, I was blown away when I found Urchin recently. Urchin's services are free to any EarthLink member who is utilizing their free 80 megs of web space to develop a web site.

    A normal page hit counter works something like this. You register your URL with a page hit counter service. They put your URL in a database and give you a graphic to display with an HREF that is linked back to their server. When someone visits your page their browser requests the graphic from the hit count server, the URL of the requesting page is looked up in the hit count server's database, the corresponding count field is incremented by one and the new count is used to return a graphic with the right hit count number on it to the browser.

    This is works well enough but it has some fatal flaws. You only register a hit on the page the counter is on. If someone passes through the page 5 times while visiting your site the number is incremented each time. In fact if someone resizes their window while on the page with the hit count graphic, it will also increment the page hit counter. To further the problem, if people have a page book marked that does not have the page hit counter on it, you will not count them even if they visit your site a dozen times a day and frolic on their favorite page unknown to you. The same problem occurs if a search engine or other web site link brings them to your site on a page without a counter. You may think your site is not doing well when it is kicking some serious butt.

    EarthLink Urchin Visitor Reporting avoids all of those problems. Urchin is able to determine accurate counts of your visitors because it is using the Earthlink server data to track your visitors and not just the request for a hit counter graphic. Urchin can provide you with a plethora of information about the traffic on your web site. This information is for your eyes only, you must log in with your password to see it. This is the ULTIMATE invisible page hit counter.

    If it sounds like I am stoked, I am. My graphic based page hit counter told me one morning (10/17/2000) that I have had 1,797 visitors this year. Urchin begs to differ, 13,175 visitors is what the actual visitor count was. For more information on Urchin and the in-depth reporting it can do for you, visit the Urchin FAQ. I've quit using hit counters, I visit Urchin once a week, copy down the number of visitors and just type it onto the bottom of my home page. Nuff said.

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