What do Website Statistics Terms Mean?


Most web hosting packages have some sort of website statistics package. And it is likely that after looking at them, your eyes have glazed over because they are written in a cryptic language that is akin to Greek. Actually, they are written in Geek.

Here is a no-frills Glossary of Website Statistics Terms:

Successful Requests

This is synonymous with Files Served, File Hits, or Total Hits. It is the total number of Files served on your website. This includes Images as well as Pages. i.e. You may have 10 Successful Requests when you visit the Homepage of a website.

Successful Page Requests

Also know as Page Hits or Page Views, this is the total number of “HTML” (PHP, ASP, SHTML, etc.) Pages served on your website.

User Sessions

Also called Unique Users. This represents the number of individual visitors who have been to your site in a given time frame.

Failed Requests

This is a count of the number of files which people requested that were not served. There are two likely causes of Failed Requests:
  1. You have deleted a file without redirecting visitors to a new page.
  2. Spiders are trying to see if you have vulnerable software on your site that they can hack. This is to be expected. As long as you don’t have vulnerable software installed on your website you have nothing to worry about.  Typically, vulnerable software would be programs like forums or blogs that you installed on your website and have not kept up with security patches as they are available.

Distinct Files Served

This is the total number of unique Files – including images and “HTML” (PHP, ASP, SHTML, etc.) Pages – that have been delivered to website visitors.

Distinct Hosts Served

This is also called User Sessions or Visitors. It represents the total number of unique visitors to your site.

Total Data Transferred

The total amount of information downloaded from your site. It includes all files: Images, “HTML” (PHP, ASP, SHTML, etc.)Files, PDF’s, Flash Files, Videos, and Audio Content.

Domain Report

Lists the most common top level domains (TLD’s) that have visited your site. These include: .com, .net, .org, .edu, and other country specific domains such as, .uk, .de, and .nl.

Organization Report

Displays the organizations where your visitors originate. Usually this is an internet service provider, such as AOL, Comcast, Insight, or Sigecom. It will also list search engine Spiders such as googlebot.com and inktomisearch.com

Host Report

Lists each of the individual computers who connected to your website, and the traffic generated by each one.

User Report

Shows which users have logged into your site.

Failed Referrer Report

Shows sites that may be linking to files on your site that have been deleted, or pages on your site that contain links to missing files.

Referrer Report

Tells where your traffic is coming from. It will list sites that have links to you as well as search engines that your site is listed in. You should make note of which sites you are getting traffic from, as well as which search engines you are not getting traffic from. The referrer report is one of the most important resources for search engine optimization.

Keyword Report

Tells you what keywords your website has been found under in search engines.  The keyword report is another very useful resource for tracking and tweaking your search engine results. If you find keyword phrases that show up in this list, you can try to either create a page for that keyword, or tweak the page that is already focused on that keyword to improve your rankings. You can see where you rank on these keywords by searching for them on google, yahoo, and MSN.

Browser Report

Lists browsers being used to visit your site. This can generally be useful for two reasons:
  1. It can help you separate out the traffic from search-engine spiders.
  2. If can help you know which browsers you need to test with your website. Generally most sites have similar browser usage. At a minimum, you should test your site design in the latest 2 versions of Microsoft Internet Explorer, The Latest Version of Mozilla Firefox, and if possible, also test your site using Safari for Mac.

Operating System Report

Lists what Operating Systems your site’s visitors are running on their computers. The Operating System Report really isn’t too useful to most websites, because in most circumstances, the browser used by the visitor is much more important than what OS the visitor is running. The only times that this really comes into play is if you are doing in depth programming that will involve code that is run on the computer, rather than just interpreted by the browser. OS recognition can also come into play when you are using plugins for programs such as Macromedia Flash, or Java.

Status Code Report

Tells you how many files were delivered, how many were already on the person’s computer (cached), and how many were not found. Here are a list of some status codes with explanations:

  • 200 OK – File was served successfully
  • 206 Partial Content – File was served, but there was a problem such as an image that didn’t load completely.
  • 301 Moved Permanently – File has moved, and there is a forwarding address.
  • 304 Not modified since last retrieval – File is already on the visitors computer (cached). There is no need to download it again.
  • 401 Authentication Required – You must login to access this area.
  • 403 Access Denied – You are trying to view an area that you are not allowed to view.
  • 404 File Not Found – The file you are trying to view does not exist on this server.
  • 500 Internal Server Error – There is a problem with coding on the website or with the server configuration.
There are other status codes, but delivered, cached, and not-found are the most important.

File Type Report

Lists the amount of web traffic for each type of file on your site: pictures, web pages, etc. Not useful for search engine optimization.

Directory Report

The directory tells you how much traffic is happening in certain parts of your site. This can be especially useful if you have a large site that is broken up into a logical directory structure.

Failure Report

Lists files that people are trying to access on your site that don’t exist. This report can help you find broken links on your site. Usually there are some useless failures caused by spammers and hackers that are scouring the internet looking for vulnerable websites.

Request Report

Lists how much traffic each page of your site receives. This can show you what the web visitors are interested in, as well as which pages you might want to work on.