The amount of domain traffic a website receives is estimated by collecting data. This data is collected in numerous ways, from optional toolbars to packet sniffing. The amount of detail the data has depends on the method used and sometimes just tells the operator how many unique visitors have opened a page. A lot of webmasters install plugins or other software that tracks domain traffic. Determining domain traffic is all about estimation; some methods can be very accurate, but never spot on, especially when it comes to determining where the visitor lives and other personal information.
Some companies dedicated to determining domain traffic allow people to download and use a toolbar. This toolbar usually has a lot of functionality, giving users the ability to view traffic information at a glance on most websites. In addition, the toolbar might allow the user to view the website how it used to look months ago or give him or her an idea of what keywords lead most viewers to the website. The toolbar acts as a data collector, though, keeping track of the user’s browsing habits and then forwarding them to the company. This is how all of the other information is determined, by collecting data from people who download the toolbar and then observing the websites they visit, how they use the websites, and other information.
Determining domain traffic can be important for various reasons, including advertising and deciding how powerful a server of a website needs to run effectively. This allows people to know how popular a particular website is. When a company is determining whether it wants to make an advertising deal with a particular website, it may want to have access to neutral, third-party information about that website’s traffic.
On a local level, a website administrator can determine the traffic his or her website is receiving in a few different ways. For example, a website owner can examine how many different Internet Protocol (IP) addresses have accessed his or her website. Additionally, a website administrator can monitor which specific web pages are being accessed by which specific IP addresses. This traffic information is determined by web software that keeps track of how many times web pages are accessed by specific computers and computes the results. Other techniques used to determined unique domain traffic include hiding small images within web pages and tracking how many times that picture is loaded.