How Do I Find Out How Many People Visited My Site?
By Paul Higgins
Knowing how many people visit your site on a daily basis helps you evaluate your content and allows you to estimate how much revenue your site can potentially generate through ads or sales. While you can use a tool in your cPanel management interface to get a quick overview of your site's popularity, setting up Google Analytics gives you access to much more detailed data about your site's visitors.
Certain Web hosts let you add a counter to your website's home page that displays how many total users visited your site. While such counters were popular years ago, many Web designers now see them as dated and advise against using them.
CPanel's AWStats Tool
The cPanel Web management interface offered by your Web host comes with a tool named AWStats, which gives you access to valuable statistics about your website's visitors, including how many unique visitors each page received.
If you have a virtual private server account instead of the more common shared hosting plan, your Web hosting company may require you to use an alternate Web management interface -- such as Plesk or Webmin -- instead of cPanel. Refer to your management interface's documentation to learn how to access its statistics module.
Understanding Visitor Statistics
When displaying the number of visitors a site received, tools such as AWStats typically show three distinct values:
- The number of hits your site received. Each hit corresponds to someone loading one of your website's files, such as HTML pages, CSS style sheets or script files. For example, a single visitor loading a page containing five images would increase the number of hits by six -- one HTML file plus five image files.
- The number of times someone accesses -- or visits -- your site.
- How many unique visitors your site received. Unlike the total number of visits, the number of unique visitors does not increase when the same person visits your site multiple times.
As it is the most reliable and accurate metric, you should typically rely on the number of visits to gauge the popularity of your site.
Log in to cPanel and click the AWStats icon under Logs.
Other visitor statistics tools are available in cPanel -- Webalizer and Analog Stats -- but AWStats gives you access to more detailed data about your site's users.
Click the magnifying glass icon next to the domain of the website whose statistics you want to access.
The AWStats home page displays your site's monthly unique visitors, visits, hits and bandwidth, both as a graph and as a table.
Gain valuable insight about your visitors by clicking the links in AWStats' sidebar to, for example, learn which browsers or operating systems visitors use to browse your site or how long they stay on your website.
Google Analytics is a free service which lets Web designers track visitors on their websites by inserting a code snippet into their pages. While Google Analytics -- like AWStats -- can give you an overview of your site's popularity, it also provides you access to a series of features you cannot find in the cPanel tool, such as detailed visitor demographics data or social media signals, such as tweets mentioning your site or likes on Facebook.
Setting Up and Using Google Analytics
To track visitors, Google Analytics relies on a code snippet that you must manually add to all of your Web pages. You can get the code snippet by logging in to Google Analytics using a standard Google account and adding a new property.
If you want to track a WordPress blog's visitors, install and activate a plugin such as Google Analytics by Yoast or Google Analytics Dashboard for WP to set up Google Analytics without having to manually edit the blog's templates.
After inserting the code snippet, access your Google Analytics statistics by visiting your Google Analytics dashboard and clicking Reporting.
Paul Higgins has been working as a writer since 2005, covering topics such as travel, technology, health and finance. He has also served as a Web developer and information technology trainer for more than 10 years. Higgins graduated from the University of Denver in 2006.