A web tracker is an Internet service that can track the number of visitors to a website and MUCH more. I use StatCounter, a free invisible real-time web tracker that tracks individual visitors to RobertBallHughes.com. Don't worry, I can't tell who you are, but I do know your city, country, and ISP name. This helps me to see where in the world people are visiting from and how often they come back to the site. StatCounter is free for the last 500 pageloads, which is fine for me as I check it daily. You can upgrade to a larger log file for a small monthly fee.
StatCounter appears to keep summary statistics from the when I signed up so I can view summary stats on a monthly or yearly basis as well as daily or weekly. This is very handy to see the trends in visitor traffic, and yes, it's been steadily increasing. The system does a good job at determining returning visitors unless they delete their browser cookies in between visits. I can still recognize them from their ISP's name and IP address though. (I see you in London, please e-mail me). I also know when my relatives are visiting the site.
I've had over 3500 visitors (including returning visitors) and 5400 pageloads in the past 12 months, that's about 10 visitors per day. Some of these were visiting my blog's that I was also tracking using the same account. I've changed that as of 2/27/2009 to track my blogs separately. About 70 visitors were confirmed returning visitors. Take a look here to see the StatCounter stats for the last 500 pageloads and the summary stats that I see. I usually look at Recent Page Load Activity first, then Recent Visitor Activity, and Recent Keyword Activity. Save the link to the stats and check back again in a about a month or less to see new stats.
72% of the visitors were from the United States, 16% unknown, and 6% are from the United Kingdom. I've had visitors from all over the world including Canada, France, Germany, Norway, Japan, New Zealand, Australia, Turkey, and many other countries. I get a lot of visitors from the Boston area interested in local history and from schools, colleges, and researchers. When I see someone new searching for Robert Ball Hughes, that's very exciting!
Now for the other features. I can see what page you entered the site through, every page you viewed and in what order, and what page you exited from. This is very helpful to me to see what you're interested in. Many visitors come in through the What's New page and I recommend that. I can also see where you came from, like a link in an e-mail, from one of my blog's, from another site (thank you!), or from a search engine. Many visitors come from the Friends of Robert Ball Hughes Blog.
I can see what your search terms were and even re-run your search using the same search engine and see where the site is ranked, pretty cool! This helps me to determine if someone is looking for information that's on my site or just stumbled onto it. Sometimes visitors only look at one page and leave if it's not what they were looking for. Many repeat visitors search for “Robert Ball Hughes.” Remember you can always search for robertballhughes.com or enter it as the URL and get to the site faster. There's a lot of interest in Edouart's silhouettes and in poker works but I've also seen visitors searching for the Willey House, Bowditch, Hamilton, and Trumbull.
Other interesting stats I can track are the visitors operating system, browser name, and search engine. Windows XP accounts for 46% of operating systems, Windows Vista for 24%, unknown for 23%, Mac for 4%, and about 2% for Windows 2000. Microsoft Internet Explorer accounts for 41% of the web browsers lately, Safari for 25%, Firefox for 25%, and I'm starting to see a few visitors using Google's new Chrome browser. Google accounts for 96% of the Internet search engines and Windows Live for 4% (that's why I use Google, sorry Yahoo).
As satisfying as these statistics about visitors are to me, I'd really like to hear from all of you on the Friends of Robert Ball Hughes Blog or by e-mail. I want to know what you think of the site, how to improve it, and if you have any helpful information to add to the history of the life of Robert Ball Hughes and his family.
Enjoy the site!