Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Web Analytics: Pages with Zero Traffic


In this post, I'm wandering from my usual leisure-time subjects to one that's come up at work, and on some web analytics forums:  how can you tell which pages on a website aren't getting any traffic?

It's an interesting question - how can you tell if a page has zero page views - i.e. no traffic.  We're always interested in the pages that generate the most traffic on our sites; the ones that are our superstars, getting the most visitors and attracting the most attention.  However, the flip side of this is that there may be some pages on our sites that have no traffic at all, and are just taking up space, maintenance time and so on, for no benefit at all.

The issue is that all our analytics tools work when our pages are viewed - when visitors load up our pages, point to our links and visit our site, so identifying the ero-traffic pages is not an easy task, and can't be done directly.  Instead, it must be done by a logical process, and my suggestions would be this.  Firstly, identify any suspect pages, which you can tell by process of elimination - run a report that shows all the pages that have had visits, and then deduce which ones haven't.  Or, alternatively, hit all (and that really means ALL - the better your spidering now, the better your results later) the pages on the site during a visit - go through your site and make sure that you visit every page at least once.  This depends on the size of your site - and although I haven't checked, it might be possible to obtain a manual site spidering tool that will go through your site, firing off the javascript tags on each page.  

Once on each page is sufficient, to fire the tag.  If you're doing this manually, make sure you're not using a PC that has its IP address screened out by any filters you may have set up.

Having done this, go on to run a page report for all pages, for the date that covers your spidering session.  Then use the calendar to compare it against any other time frame - in particular, the time frame that you are actually interested in looking for zero-traffic pages.  Sort the pages by the number of page views they got during the time frame of interest, in ascending order.  By doing this, you should see that all the pages that received visits on the test date, but haven't had any during the time frame of interest, come to the top of
the list.  Note from the quick mock-up below how the pages which had the most traffic in the first time frame come to the top of the list.  By reversing the two time frames, it'd be possible to bring the one-day traffic to the top, and compare with the one-month time frame.

It's not pretty, but it should work, and has the advantage that you only have to visit all the pages once (and make a note of the date that you did your visit, for reference, so that you can run further tests in future, as necessary.

Please let me know if this works for you; I haven't tried it (!) but based on my experience it should work successfully.

1 comment:

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