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Web Site Log Analysis

Data Mining and Interpretation

Almost all commercial web sites have an untapped gold mine of information locked away in their web server log files. It does not matter whether your company makes any effort to use cookies or other forms of data collection. Standard Internet transmission protocols guarantee that every time a visitor comes to your web site, they leave a record of highly useful information, including:

  • Browser type
  • Operating system
  • Referring web page
  • Internet address
  • Search keywords used (if they came from a search engine)

It gets better. Once in your site, visitors leave a "clickstream" trail of their travels, showing which pages they visited, for how long. When viewed as patterns, this gives huge amounts of knowledge about your web site's sources of traffic, types of visitors, and the usability and appeal of the various web pages.

There are numerous web site analysis software packages available, all the way from free to $30,000. We haven't seen any that we really like – otherwise we'd be selling them. They all share two problems:

1. Pretty picture syndrome. They produce charts galore, like "Top Ten Referrers." But you already figured that out a year ago. How about "Most Interesting New Referrer, Suggesting That There's a Whole New Market Out There We Didn't Know About." No, they do not have that chart.

2. Quantity, not quality. Data mining is a good phrase, but more often than not we look over the data and say, "Nice work, laddie. You brought 20 tons of rock to the surface. Now ... where's the gold?"

Due to these shortcomings, Hastings Research developed its own advanced parsing and data structuring tools, which can not only answer questions about visitor sources and behavior, but also raise new questions about potential new markets and products.

Privacy Note: Hastings is not in the business of collecting information on individuals. We strictly analyze patterns – which produce much better ROI anyway.

Contact us at info@hastingsresearch.com

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