Got Traffic?

Emma Mansfield
One of the most important tasks of the adult webmaster, aside from ensuring high availability and page-request speed, is the task of monitoring traffic. Monitoring web traffic to your adult site is an art, and there are many software tools that assist in this process. Aside from revenue itself, traffic is your most valuable asset and, in many cases, determines the market price of your URL.

If we look at two hypothetical websites, the site with the highest revenue is not necessarily the most valuable to a potential buyer. If the other website has a great deal more traffic, this points to more potential revenue and might make the site more attractive.

Schemes to collect revenue from your customers by selling them streaming media and other services can always be modified, yet web traffic is out of our immediate control, and it requires advertising and an overall good business model. This is why it is vital to monitor your web traffic, since this variable determines the long-term value of your website.

Of course, some web traffic is useless. For instance, after you submit your URL to search engines, spiders (software programs) collect pages from your website and will be logged as web traffic. Yet this is not real traffic; therefore, monitoring traffic also involves subtracting automated queries to a website.

Hackers and other nefarious types also use brute force methods and DoS (Denial of Service) attacks as they roam the Internet. This type of "traffic" must also be removed from your calculations. For the adult webmaster, repeat traffic from one IP address is also suspicious. Because of incentives from pay-per-click programs, a dishonest individual can increase his or her own paycheck by fraudulently clicking to your site many times.

PPC Advertising
If you are utilizing PPC advertising or banner ads to increase traffic, web-monitoring tools are vital. Of course, each company you are paying to provide this service will give you reports on click totals, but it isn't wise to blindly trust these reports. It is far more prudent to use your own monitoring tools.

For instance, an Arkansas judge recently approved a $90 million settlement with Google in a class-action lawsuit. The suit charged that Google did not monitor click fraud with due diligence. "Click Syndicate" groups have been known to automate clicks on a competitor's site to limit traffic and increase costs. Therefore, trusting reports from PPC companies can be dubious. It is much more accurate to use the right web-monitoring tools to determine, independently, which advertising campaigns are producing the most legitimate traffic to your website.

Most web-hosting companies provide at least one tool, free to use, to allow you to monitor traffic. Some companies provide multiple tools.

Web monitoring tools are usually executed in conjunction with web-hosting software and constantly track different IP addresses as they request pages. This is why choosing a hosting company for your adult site doesn't only mean picking a fast, low-cost provider. The adult webmaster today has to consider the monitoring tools the hosting company offers. This decision will ultimately affect your business in many ways.

One of the oldest web-traffic reporting graphical offerings is Urchin. Many larger providers like EarthLink Hosting employ Urchin reporting. Urchin provides easy-to-understand bar graphs that let you drill down by date to view information such as total clicks, total traffic, average number of pages read and a ranking of sources where your traffic came from.

Urchin also informs you of which top search phrases were used by surfers who visited your web domain via a search engine. This information is very helpful for the adult webmaster in both planning PPC advertising and in tailoring your meta tag keywords that appear to be generating the most traffic.

Urchin also provides a UTM module that can be plugged into the content of your website's HTML. With this module, valid customer tracking is made easier because the UTM JavaScript installs a client-side cookie to uniquely track each visitor. This, of course, is more intrusive to your customers but allows you to distinguish real traffic from robots, spiders and nefarious DoS attacks.

Another tool that produces more raw output, yet less formatted than Urchin, is Analog, which can be downloaded at Analog collects a great deal of statistical data, such as the download frequency of all your web objects — yet its reporting is not quite as flashy or three-dimensional as Urchin.

For a graphical and colorful web-traffic reporting tool, check out Awstats. Awstats produces professional management- style graphical reports. If you want to sell your website's popularity in a presentation format, this is a great package to use. Awstats also has a useful web-based interface with a menu that appears on the left side of your browser, allowing you to scroll through different types of statistics quickly.

One feature of Awstats that is very helpful for adult webmasters is that it reports automated traffic from robots and spiders separately. This will allow you to adjust your hit counts to include only potential customers. Another graphical report provided, which is very useful for troubleshooting, is one in which Awstats categorizes the frequency of each HTTP error code individually, allowing for efficient website error monitoring. Awstats is open source and can be found at:

Regardless of what tool you are using to monitor traffic, it is very important to run web usage reports on a regular basis. Not only does a good web-traffic reporting tool give you the good news — it will alert you if something is terribly wrong. If you notice a radical drop in your traffic, using graphical reports like the offerings above will allow you to pinpoint the source of the slowdown.

Many times keyword searches will drop your website from page one on a popular search engine. It is also common for PPC portals to be down. These events can drastically affect your revenue. Yet by constant diligence in running web-traffic reports, these problems are easy to spot and address. In addition, using these tools allows you to tailor content and advertising based on real customer preferences — always the key to success in the desire-based matrix of adult websites.