The internet has brought with it a vocabulary all its own, and sometimes it's hard to understand what you're reading about. I have started to put together a glossary of terms that you might run into to. I will be adding to this over time.
BASIC INTERNET TERMS
For the following terms (ISP, HOST, DOMAIN REGISTRAR), please refer to my page on "how it all fits together"
- URL - Uniform Resource Locator (world wide web address) Your URL is your web site address. For example: www.yourwebsitename.com
- ISP (Internet service provider)
- Domain Registrar
- Server - Server is another name for a computer that is connected to the internet 24/7. Servers can host web sites, they can send e-mail and they can connect people to the internet.
- Browser - a browser is the software that a person uses to surf the internet. The most popular are internet explorer, netscape, AOL's browser, Opera, Mozilla, Safari and Firefox.
WEB STAT REPORTS GLOSSARY
My web hosting services offer some wonderful web stat reports. HOWEVER, you won't be able to benefit from all the useful information they're supplying to you if you don't understand what the different terms mean. Here is a brief explanation of the vocabulary that you will find in the web stat reports.
- IP Address - Each server on the internet has a unique IP address. An IP address looks like a bunch of numbers separated by periods. (For example: 220.127.116.11) Your internet service provider has servers that connect you to the internet. Each of these servers has a unique IP address.
- Unique Visitors - The unique visitor refers to a unique visit to your site. One person that visits the site and might view one page, or multiple pages. If that person comes back the next day, they will not be counted again as a unique visitor. If you imagine your web site is like your home, the unique visitors would be the number of people that have visited your home this month. If you walk in and out of your home five times a day, you are still only one person, and thus counted as one visitor.
This is not an entirely accurate count of unique visitors to the site; you can assume that it falls a bit short of the actual number of unique visitors. The stat programs use three different means of figuring out this number: authentication, cookies and IP addresses. I have quoted below from a useful article that goes into detail on what those three terms mean.
The definitions below are taken from Understanding Hits, Page Views and User Sessions.
The most accurate way to count user sessions is for the site to require that every visitor use a unique username/password combination before entering the site. This would ensure that the log file contained information that uniquely identified every user. This information can be found in the "authenticated user" tables.
Cookies are pieces of software code that reside on the hard drive of the client (or requesting) computer that contain information that identifies the computer to the server. There are problems with using cookies, however, when trying to track unique user sessions. First, some people may refuse to accept cookies. Second, cookies can be erased from the client hard drive. This could result in double counting unique visitors during a period if the visitor deleted her cookie between visits. Finally, there is no way to know if the client computer is a shared computer between many unique visitors.
Every record in the log file contains an IP address, as this is how the server knows where to send the information that has been requested. The limitation to counting unique IP addresses, however, is that many Internet Service Providers and companies use various methods that skew the analysis. Some organizations use dynamic ISP addressing where an IP address can be determined dynamically when a user logs in, through the use of firewalls, or by a load-balancing device. Others, such as AOL, filter all data so it comes through an intermediate proxy server. In this case, the web server sends the requests not to the individual requestor, but to the proxy server of the ISP. The information is then sent on to the actual visitor, but with the source address of the proxy server.
- Number of visits - The number of visits to your site refer to the number of times people have returned to it. Imagine that your web site is like your home. If someone knocks on your door, they are counted as one visit, whether they just stand in your doorway, or they end up walking through every room in your house.
- Pages - If we continue the analogy of your web site being like you home, a page on your web site would be like a room in your house. Every time someone walks into that room, it counts as being visited. Every time someone looks at a page on your web site, it increments the page views. If I walk into the kitchen five times during the day to reheat/refill my coffee, that would be considered five page views.
- Hits - Hits are confusing. People often see that they are getting millions of hits to their site, and they think that that means that millions of people are visiting. That is not the case.
A web page is made up of many components: not only does it have text, it has images, font styles, scripts. These components (aside from the text) are not actually part of the page. The page's code just gives a browser the location of these components and then explains how they should be presented. So if a page has 10 pictures on it, one CSS file and a scripting file, when the page loads into a person's browser, that browser communicates to the server 12 different times to get those components. Each of those queries are hits. One page view can generate 10 to 50 hits depending on how many images, advertisements and scripts are contained in it.
- Bandwidth - Everything that makes up your web site can be broken down into code. (Just like any object around you can be broken down into microscopic cells.) Some things, like images, are made up of a very dense amount of code. In contrast, the code to create the text on your web page is not dense or very long. We don't need to understand how this code works. What we need to understand is that everything on a web site has a different size or weight to it. Text, being "lighter" than images, loads faster. Movies are very large and take longer to load onto a web page.
What does this have to do with bandwidth? When an image, movie or text is "loading" to be displayed in a browser, the code that it is comprised of is being transferred through an internet connection from the server to the computer requesting to view the page. The amount of code or information transferred is bandwidth.
Imagine the connection from your site to the internet is like a river that flows from the web site to people's computers, and imagine all the information - the images, the text, the movies being viewed are like logs and sticks floating on the river. (An image might be a big log, the text might be a twig, a movie might be a number of logs bound together), the total traffic on that river going from your web site to people's browsers is the bandwidth.
- Entry Files - Unlike a visitor to your home who must enter through a door or window, a visitor to your site can jump directly to any page on the site. They are not required to go first to your home page. Often when people use search engines, the results of their search phrase will bring them to a page deep within your site. The first page that a visitor enters your site on is called the entry file. This is useful information because it can show you which pages on your site are being indexed by the search engines, and also which pages are people book marking, or referring other people to.
- Exit Files - The exit file is the last file viewed before a visitor left your site.
- Hosts - Hosts refer to the servers or proxy servers that are providing your visitors with their internet connection. This list gives you a general idea of where your visitors are coming from. You may also get a list of unresolved hosts or IP addresses. If you want to sleuth a bit (and if you're a bit of a geek) and try to determine what and where those servers reside, you can try using the following tool to "dig out" more information.
- HTTP Error Codes - whenever someone coming to your site gets an error - a page not found, something not loading entirely, a broken link, it generates what is called an http error code on the server. You can view this information to pin point what is broken on your site, or what old pages that no longer exist are still indexed in the search engines. I highly recommend having your web master create custom error pages for your site. This way, if people are looking for a page that no longer exists, they can be directed to your site map, or main navigation or home page.
- Bounce Rate (definition taken from google.com) is the percentage of single-page visits or visits in which the person left your site from the entrance (landing) page. Use this metric to measure visit quality - a high bounce rate generally indicates that site entrance pages aren't relevant to your visitors. The more compelling your landing pages, the more visitors will stay on your site and convert. You can minimize bounce rates by tailoring landing pages to each keyword and ad that you run. Landing pages should provide the information and services that were promised in the ad copy.
I borrowed this RSS Glossary of terms from RSS news you choose
- Blog -
A blog is a public Web site with personal posts ordered so that the most recent is always first. Often these posts are also archived and searchable. Posts may come from one or many individuals, and the messages often share a common theme. The most recent blogs posted, with links and a brief description, are available via RSS.
- Channels - These are XML links to new articles or blogs. Sometimes called a feed.
- Feeds - These are XML documents used for Web syndication, often with links to new articles or blog posts and brief descriptions. Sometimes called a channel.
- Proxy server - An indirect means of connecting to the Internet. A desktop connects to a server, which then connects to the Internet. Sometimes this is done to filter content or intercept viruses before they infect an internal network. If you are connecting to the Internet via a proxy server, you will need to make some changes in your RSS reader configuration.
- RSS or Really Simple Syndication - This is an XML-based Web syndication tool for Web sites and blogs. RSS repackages new content with information such as a date, a title, a link, and a brief description. An RSS Reader then interprets this feed so that the user need only read the description and link to the news story or blog post. The RSS concept first surfaced in the late 1990s. Who came up with it first is in some dispute, but versions of RSS protocols have been developed by UserLand, Netscape, and O'Reilly and Associates. (Text corrected 9/29/04.)
- XML (Extensible Markup Language) - A markup language that describes many different kinds of data so that programs can modify and validate data. Its primary purpose is to share structured text over the Internet.
--- end of terms defined by RSS News you choose ---
- Aggregate: to assemble (content) from various distributed sources and
present in an organized, accessible form. I guess that's what RSS feeds
really do - collect information such as new items from different sources and
"publish" in one place
- Syndicate: the process of offering content to various publishers. In the
newspaper world a syndicated column (or comic strip) appears in many
newspapers at the same time....in the RSS world the process of
syndicating would be getting other web sites, portals, articles and desktop readers to present a particular feed.
- Ping: a network utility (try it from the command line) that sends a low
level packet to another computer using the IP address or the computer name.
It's helpful to establish if two computers have connectivity at the lowest
level. I think it comes from the submarine world where sonar sends out
"pings" to detect the presence of other ships. When you change the content of your RSS Feed, you can 'ping' the RSS search engines and let them know that your content has changed so that they will come and index it. Many have interfaces on their sites where you can do so. Or you can add code to your 'feed writer' that will automatically ping the engines when you make a change.
Did I miss anything? If you have been stumbling across an internet term that you would like me to add to this glossary, please let me know.
©Heather Goff .
Heather Goff has been programming and designing web sites since 1997. Visit http://www.goffgrafix.com for useful resources and affordable web site design and hosting. mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org