Mar 30 2005

Watching Those Watching Me

Published by at 11:41 pm under GrinGod [dot] Com

This is an old article and the information contained within it may be out of date, not reflect my current views and/or contain broken links. If you feel this article is still valid and requires updating, you can use the contact form to let me know. However, I make no guarantee that it will get updated.

I’m sure I posted on this not so long ago but its a subject I enjoy so I’m posting on it again.

I am, it must be said, very vain when it comes to my website. I like to know who is viewing my site, where they’re coming from and what software they’re using. To accomplish this I normally check the log files for my website several times a day.

My web host provides detailed analysis using the AWStats package. Whilst it is a very nice package it doesn’t tell me everything I wish to know. I can’t see which pages an individual user is viewing, or if a user coming from a searc engine then goes on to read other pages (the key to return visits), in order to get this sort of information I need to dive into the raw log files.

Once you get the hang of Apache style log files it is easy to start tracking individual users to see what they’re up to. You can match the log file entries to a specific user but after a while you start to see patterns emerging and sometimes you can spot regulars.

For example, I know that one address (195.226.x.x) is my good friend Phrixus and I’ve noticed that he’s been showing up in my logs as using Firefox on MacOS X. I’ve also noticed one or two visitors to my site that haven’t been around for a while.

Its also possible to track how I’m doing in search rankings. I’ve had quite a few hits for searches on vb.net msgbox and since my first hit on the subject I’ve seen my page rank increasing.

But still I’m not happy with the information I’m able to obtain from this, so I’m forced to take extreme measures. I’m planning on getting phpOpenTracker installed on my site. I have previously used it on the CrashNet website I developed and was very happy with the results. You never know, I might even create a Worpress Plugin.

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