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Some general questions about hit counters and web statistics

Posted on 2008-10-30
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I use Dreamweaver and ColdFusion; I also know a little JavaScript. A client wants me to add a hit counter to his home page. I am trying to understand his exact reason for wanting this (his info? so others can see? etc) but in the meantime I have a few general questions:

1) If the purpose is for his use only, couldn't he just use the web statistics that his host provides?

2) I do have a site where I track visits to specific pages, using some CF code and a MySQL datatbase. My experience is that this tracker also "counts" spider/crawler hits. Some of them I've been able to filter out with code that ignores certain HTTP_USER_AGENTs and REMOTE_ADDRs. Do web statistics count everything, including crawlers? This client is using GoDaddy hosting, if that helps at all. I have not yet used GoDaddy (I use HostMySite).

3) Is it possible to write a simple hit counter and keep track of the hits in a text file instead of a database? If so, I could use some general direction about how to create/edit the file (I'm using Dreamweaver, if that helps). I know that the file would reside on the server. Do I need to worry about someone hacking in to it?

4) What exactly is a "unique" visit? What is the criteria for defining unique? Specifically, I'm looking at the free counter by www.hitcounterland.com. If I hit my site with the counter in it, it goes up by one, but as I continue to hit it, it doesn't change. So if I hit it tomorrow, will I be counted again? Or am I only counted once ever?
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Question by:alicia1234
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MattKenefick earned 1000 total points
ID: 22842270
1.) Not all hosts offer statistics for free. He may not have them.

2.) It depends what kind of tracker you're using for what it will pick up.

3.) You can do that, but it's probably better in this day and age to use one of the trackers that has already been developed. With Google Analytics ( http://www.google.com/analytics ) or GetClicky.com (http://www.getclicky.com), you can just insert a couple lines of Javascript into your code and it will do all the hard work for you and give you very extensive stats. Everything someone could ask for.

4.) A unique visit is someone going to your site for the first time. Hits are when I go on a site, browse through all their pages, etc.. Every page I load is a "hit"... but there would only be one "unique" visit, cause it's all coming from me. It will be counted again tomorrow or later in the day. If I visit today, I'm still unique tomorrow.
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by:alicia1234
ID: 22842391
Thanks!
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Expert Comment

by:Jason C. Levine
ID: 22846644
Alicia,

You might also want to consider adding Google Analytics to the site.  It's easy, free, and provides great information.
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Author Comment

by:alicia1234
ID: 22847171
Thanks Jason. I am now trying to figure out ASP.Net. Maybe you can help me translate between ColdFusion?
http://www.experts-exchange.com/Programming/Languages/.NET/ASP.NET/Q_23863504.html
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Expert Comment

by:Jason C. Levine
ID: 22847538
No, sorry.  I don't touch ASP.NET.  I'm a PHP guy and proud of it.
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Author Comment

by:alicia1234
ID: 22849683
Then maybe I'll try to get the client to switch to php ;-)
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