Web traffic is the amount of data sent and received by visitors to a website. This necessarily does not include the traffic generated by bots. 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 welcomed. Some companies offer advertising schemes that, in return for increased web traffic (visitors), pay for screen space on the site. There is also “fake traffic”, which is bot traffic generated by a third party. This type of traffic can damage a website’s reputation, its visibility on Google, and overall domain authority. Sites also often aim to increase their web traffic through inclusion on search engines and through search engine optimization.
Before talking tools, let’s consider load times and the value of performance. When you understand that performance is key to a great user experience, you need tools that will do one thing very well, and that’s to measure the user’s perceived load time. There are many performance rules out there, but ultimately, that’s the only performance metric that matters. The goal of performance testing is to understand how your applications behave under heavy load conditions. To get started, you need to understand the baseline performance of your application and that the performance of each transaction is unique. For example, in an e-commerce application, a home page transaction is likely highly cached and very fast, whereas a checkout transaction is more complicated and must talk to a payment service, shipping service, etc. To ensure that users have a great experience, you must test the most common flows for your users and understand performance both in the browser and on the server. To get the job done, you’ll need server-side, client-side, and performance tools, and you can find free and open source options that fall into each of these categories.
Web traffic is measured to see the popularity of websites and individual pages or sections within a site. This can be done 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 website – a visitor will always generate at least one page view (the main page) but could generate many more. Tracking applications external to the website can record traffic by inserting a small piece of HTML code in every page of the website. 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.
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