In parts 1 and 2 of this series, we discussed the importance of knowing how visitors find, enter, flow through, and exit your site. Now we'll look at a few "mainstream" alternatives to using the popular SexTracker counter for getting a handle on your site's traffic.
Why the Need?
One issue defining the need for a mainstream alternative to the SexTracker counter is the desire for more thorough information in a more accessible format. While most adult Webmasters will not require the highly advanced reporting features that many server-based solutions will provide, their customizable nature, easy archiving, and in-depth analysis tools are all welcome on larger, more complex operations - such as those that involve heavy e-commerce or dynamic, database-driven sites, for instance.
Another major concern is the SexTracker counter images themselves: a problem that is twofold in nature. First, as was discussed in my previous article, the graphics are often too "hardcore" to be safely and responsibly displayed in a non age-verified environment. Beyond the legal, ethical, and moral concerns, however, is another issue: some really kick ass!
When traffic is so hard to come by these days, having a giant "Click Me" magnet on your site may not be the best idea: I'm certain that many of these counters enjoy enviable click-through rates (CTR), and depending on the value of the traffic that you are losing to them, perhaps a paid traffic analysis solution may be less expensive for you than using this "free" service offering.
Options and Alternatives
While "free" mainstream counters are abundant, many of them have Terms of Service (TOS) that disallow adult sites from participating in their programs. Some paid services will also forbid adult sites, and in some cases, even links to adult sites, so always read the user agreement carefully before making use of any Web site services.
Reasonably priced online services exist as an option for sites where a "simple" counter would suffice, and a wide variety of software is also readily available to help you analyze your traffic. Your ISP may be able to provide you with free or lost cost stats tools that are pre-installed and customized for your server, and you may also have the option of downloading your server log files for analysis on your PC (one of the alternatives that I use). Let's take a closer look at three options from WebTrends, makers of the custom solution that I use on my own sites:
» WebTrends Live
This powerful and flexible online Web site analytics tool is similar in concept to the SexTracker, except that it utilizes a much smaller and far-less "clickable" button. Once available as a free service, it is now a fee-based offering starting at $35 a month. With a sliding fee scale charging 65 cents per 1,000 page views after the first 50,000 a month, however, the cost can quickly become an issue, given the traffic volumes of many adult sites. I have used the WebTrends Live counter on several sites, and can recommend it - if your traffic levels aren't too demanding.
» WebTrends Log Analyzer
An ideal traffic analysis tool for single-server Web sites, this entry-level package will provide insights into visitor behavior and help improve overall site performance. Using your server logs, this powerful software will report on visitor patterns, referring sites, visitor paths, demographics, and much more, including which sites and keyword searches have referred the largest number of visitors to your site. Presenting detailed, in-depth data in an organized and concise format with full-color graphs, the resulting information is easy-to-interpret and readily accessible. This is very similar to the solution that I employ, and at a base price of $699, an extremely useful tool.
» WebTrends Analysis Suite
Is too much information never enough? Telling you more about your site's activity than you ever wanted to know, and will (speaking for myself at least) ever completely understand, this is the tool for power users. This complete solution adds streaming media analysis, reporting, and monitoring of an unlimited number of network devices. Tracking internal and external bandwidth trends with proxy server analysis, reporting on broken links, your slowest loading pages, URL and link syntax errors, and a host of other features, if this package doesn't tell you what you want to know, then you probably don't need to know it: At $2999 with all the goodies, it ain't cheap, but if you're doing a million bucks a month, it's definitely a worthwhile investment.
As you can see, a wide variety of options exist for monitoring your Web site's traffic flow patterns and characteristics, and choosing the right solution is not always easy. For most adult sites, the SexTracker counter may be the easiest answer, if not the best. It's a choice for you to make.
As an endnote, after writing this series I went back to the future to take another look at the good 'ol WebSideStory "HitBox" - a long time player in the adult stats market that shifted its focus more towards the mainstream a while back. You can still sign up for the Adult HitBox, and adding one of these counters to your site might be a better way to "compare stats accuracy" between several counters than doing so using the SexTracker and its related XXX Counter. Enjoy ~ Stephen