In the distant past of the Internet this largely consisted of placing a visitor counter on your website and watching the numbers slowly creep up! Luckily these days things are a lot more sophisticated and there are many ways of keeping tabs on how your site or blog is performing.
First of all you should check what statistical tools are provided at no additional charge from your web hosting provider (preferably before you sign up for an account!). My own web provider Just Host provides several tools, probably the most useful being Awstats.
Outside of the tools provided by your web host, some of the best free traffic and statistical monitoring tools are provided by our friends over at Google. Probably the most commonly used being – Google Analytics, Google Webmaster Tools and Google AdSense (some may question the last of these but I’ll explain my reasoning below).
Google Analytics is a free analysis tool that can provide you with a massive amount of information on the traffic that is visiting your website. Sign up for an account at http://www.google.com/analytics/ and insert the relevant piece of tracking code into your website or blog and you are up and running. Google Analytics provides very detailed information on visitors, traffic sources and content viewed amongst other things.
Google Webmaster Tools
If you have an account with Google, from your account settings page you should be able to access a link to Webmaster Tools. Here you can add your sites and blogs which you will be required to validate by inserting either a line of of HTML code in the form of a meta tag, or by posting a web page with a specified title. Once verified, and after allowing some time to elapse for data to be acquired for your site, you will be able to see information on Google searches that have listed your site, number of and source of backlinks to your site, web crawler errors etc. All very useful information to the affiliate marketer.
Whilst Google AdSense is not a statistical tool as such, if you sign up for AdSense and display their adverts on your sites, no doubt you will be logging in from time to time to check on your earnings. If you have set up your different sites as separate channels in AdSense, then you can also get a rough and ready view of the number of visits you are getting per site. This should not be taken as a truly accurate picture, as some people filter out AdSense from their browsers or networks, but it is certainly a useful quick check on how your traffic is going for the day/week/month.
The free affiliate tools highlighted above should be sufficient to get most people started (and will even form the basis for most of your ongoing day to day needs), but as you progress you may find the need to get even more finely targeted information. A search on Google will provide you with a huge choice of affiliate tools which can not only identify who visited your site, but also identify really specific things about their visit, for instance what area of a page they have clicked on. Some of these services may have a free trial period, a cutdown free version or a traffic limited version. This allows you to try them out before signing up for a subscription.
A couple of examples of these more advanced services:
Hopefully the above free affiliate tools will prove useful to you both as a beginner, and also as you progress as an affiliate marketer. If you have your own free web analysis tools that you use on a regular basis, why not post a comment below?
Free Affiliate Tools Series