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Web traffic is the amount of data sent and received by visitors to a web site. Since the mid-1990s, web traffic has been the largest portion of Internet traffic. This is determined by the number of visitors and the number of pages they visit. Sites monitor the incoming and outgoing traffic to see which parts or pages of their site are popular and if there are any apparent trends, such as one specific page being viewed mostly by people in a particular country. There are many ways to monitor this traffic and the gathered data is used to help structure sites, highlight security problems or indicate a potential lack of bandwidth not all web traffic is welcome.
Some companies offer advertising schemes that, in return for increased web traffic (visitors), pay for screen space on the site. Sites also often aim to increase their web traffic through inclusion on search engines and through search engine optimization.
Analyzing web traffic 
Web analytics is the measurement of the behavior of visitors to a website. In a commercial context, it especially refers to the measurement of which aspects of the website work towards the business objectives of Internet marketing initiatives; for example, which landing pages encourage people to make a purchase. Notable vendors of web analytics software and services include Webtrends, Coremetrics, Omniture, and Google Analytics.
Measuring web traffic 
Web traffic is measured to see the popularity of web sites and individual pages or sections within a site.
Web traffic can be analyzed by viewing the traffic statistics found in the web server log file, an automatically generated list of all the pages served. A hit is generated when any file is served. The page itself is considered a file, but images are also files, thus a page with 5 images could generate 6 hits (the 5 images and the page itself). A page view is generated when a visitor requests any page within the web site – a visitor will always generate at least one page view (the main page) but could generate many more. Tracking applications external to the web site can record traffic by inserting a small piece of HTML code in every page of the web site.
Web traffic is also sometimes measured by packet sniffing and thus gaining random samples of traffic data from which to extrapolate information about web traffic as a whole across total Internet usage.
The following types of information are often collated when monitoring web traffic:
- The number of visitors.
- The average number of page views per visitor – a high number would indicate that the average visitors go deep inside the site, possibly because they like it or find it useful.
- Average visit duration – the total length of a user's visit. As a rule the more time they spend the more they're interested in your company and are more prone to contact.
- Average page duration – how long a page is viewed for. The more pages viewed, the better it is for your company.
- Domain classes – all levels of the IP Addressing information required to deliver Webpages and content.
- Busy times – the most popular viewing time of the site would show when would be the best time to do promotional campaigns and when would be the most ideal to perform maintenance
- Most requested pages – the most popular pages
- Most requested entry pages – the entry page is the first page viewed by a visitor and shows which are the pages most attracting visitors
- Most requested exit pages – the most requested exit pages could help find bad pages, broken links or the exit pages may have a popular external link
- Top paths – a path is the sequence of pages viewed by visitors from entry to exit, with the top paths identifying the way most customers go through the site
- Referrers; The host can track the (apparent) source of the links and determine which sites are generating the most traffic for a particular page.
Web sites like Alexa Internet produce traffic rankings and statistics based on those people who access the sites while using the Alexa toolbar. The difficulty with this is that it's not looking at the complete traffic picture for a site. Large sites usually hire the services of companies like Nielsen NetRatings, but their reports are available only by subscription.
Controlling web traffic 
The amount of traffic seen by a web site is a measure of its popularity. By analysing the statistics of visitors it is possible to see shortcomings of the site and look to improve those areas. It is also possible to increase () the popularity of a site and the number of people that visit it.
Limiting access 
It is sometimes important to protect some parts of a site by password, allowing only authorized people to visit particular sections or pages.
Some site administrators have chosen to block their page to specific traffic, such as by geographic location. The re-election campaign site for U.S. President George W. Bush (GeorgeWBush.com) was blocked to all internet users outside of the U.S. on 25 October 2004 after a reported attack on the site.
It is also possible to limit access to a web server both based on the number of connections and by the bandwidth expended by each connection. On Apache HTTP servers, this is accomplished by the limitipconn module and others.
Website Traffic from SEO 
The majority of website traffic is driven by the search engines. Millions of people use search engines everyday to research various topics, buy products, and go about their daily surfing activities. Search engines use keywords to help users find relevant information and each of the major search engines has developed a unique algorithm to determine where websites are placed within the search results. When a user clicks on one of the listings in the search results, they are directed to the corresponding website and data is transferred from the website's server, thus counting the visitors towards the overall flow of traffic to that website.
Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, is the ongoing practice of optimizing a website to help improve its rankings in the search engines. Several internal and external factors are involved which can help improve a site's listing within the search engines. The higher a site ranks within the search engines for a particular keyword, the more traffic they will receive.
Increase web site traffic 
Web traffic can be increased by placement of a site in search engines and purchase of advertising, including bulk e-mail, pop-up ads, and in-page advertisements. Web traffic can also be increased by purchasing through web traffic providers or non-internet based advertising.
Web traffic can be increased not only by attracting more visitors to a site, but also by encouraging individual visitors to "linger" on the site, viewing many pages in a visit. (see Outbrain for an example of this practice)
If a web page is not listed in the first pages of any search, the odds of someone finding it diminishes greatly (especially if there is other competition on the first page). Very few people go past the first page, and the percentage that go to subsequent pages is substantially lower. Consequently, getting proper placement on search engines is as important as the web site itself.
Organic traffic 
Web traffic which comes from unpaid listing at search engines or directories is commonly known as "organic" traffic. Organic traffic can be generated or increased by including the web site in directories, search engines, guides (such as yellow pages and restaurant guides) and award sites.
In most cases the best way to increase web traffic is to register it with the major search engines. Just registering does not guarantee traffic, as search engines work by "crawling" registered web sites. These crawling programs (crawlers) are also known as "spiders" or "robots". Crawlers start at the registered home page, and usually follow the hyperlinks it finds, to get to pages inside the web site (internal links). Crawlers start gathering information about those pages and storing it and indexing it in the search engine database. In every case, they index the page URL and the page title. In most cases they also index the web page header (meta tag) and a certain amount of the text of the page. Then, when a search engine user looks for a particular word or phrase, the search engine looks into the database and produces the results, usually sorted by relevance according to the search engine algorithms.
Usually, the top organic result gets most of the clicks from web users. According to recent studies from the AOL search data leak, the first listing gets approximately 42% of clicks and while the number ten listing gets approximately 3% of the total clicks. The differences in web traffic generated can be staggering depending on how many searches per month your keyword generates. This indicates that it is important to appear in the top results. There are some companies which specialize in search engine marketing. However, it is becoming common for webmasters to get approached by "boiler-room" companies with no real knowledge of how to get results. As opposed to pay-per-click, search engine marketing is usually paid monthly or annually, and most search engine companies cannot promise specific results for what is paid to them.
Because of the huge amount of information available on the web, crawlers might take days, weeks or months to complete review and index all the pages they find. Google, for example, as of the end of 2004 had indexed over eight billion pages. Even having hundreds or thousands of servers working on the spidering of pages, a complete re-indexing takes its time. That is why some pages recently updated in certain web sites are not immediately found when doing searches on search engines.
Traffic overload 
Too much web traffic can dramatically slow down or even prevent all access to a web site. This is caused by more file requests going to the server than it can handle and may be an intentional attack on the site or simply caused by over-popularity. Large scale web sites with numerous servers can often cope with the traffic required and it is more likely that smaller services are affected by traffic overload. Sudden traffic load may also hang your server or may result in shutdown of your services.
Denial of service attacks 
Denial-of-service attacks (DoS attacks) have forced web sites to close after a malicious attack, flooding the site with more requests than it could cope with. Viruses have also been used to co-ordinate large scale distributed denial-of-service attacks.
Sudden popularity 
A sudden burst of publicity may accidentally cause a web traffic overload. A news item in the media, a quickly propagating email, or a link from a popular site may cause such a boost in visitors (sometimes called a flash crowd or the Slashdot effect).
See also 
- Machlis, Sharon (17 June 2002). "Measuring Web Site Traffic" at ComputerWorld.com – retrieved 1 January 2005
- Matt Johnson (5 May 2011). A BBC News look at the case of freelance journalist Glenn Fleishman after his site was linked to from MacCentral – retrieved 7 July 2005
- Jeffay, Kevin. "Tracking the Evolution of Web Traffic: 1995-2003*". UNC DiRT Group's Publications. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
- Malacinski, Andrei; Dominick, Scott & Hartrick, Tom (1 March 2001). "Measuring Web Traffic". IBM. Retrieved 10 October 2011.
- Miller, Rich (2004-10-26). "Bush Campaign Web Site Rejects Non-US Visitors".
- "Denial of Service". Cert.org. Retrieved 28 May 2012.