Home Articles Log file analysis vs page tagging

Log File Analysis Vs Page Tagging

By Seby Kallarakkal

Broadly speaking there are two technologies available for measuring data – Log file analysis and Page tagging. (there are other hybrid methods, but we’ll concentrate on these two methods in this article).

Log file analysis

Log file analysis, as the name suggests involves downloading the log files on a regular basis and feeding it to some analytics software. Here your main costs are as follows

  • The download costs. Log files could get pretty heavy for a large site.
  • A machine to store the log files and run the log analyzing software.
  • Log analysis software.

The first two are pretty standard and you can easily guess the cost. Log analysis software, however comes in a wide range of prices. You can get free software like Awstats or you can buy expensive ones like WebTrends. The cost could vary between free to a couple of ten thousand dollars. When it comes to log analysis, we find Clicktracks the best value for money. Of course, it can’t do all that biggies do, but it is fast and easy to learn.

Log file analysis would require an in-house expert to ensure downloading of log files and subsequently feeding it to the software. Log files do not distinguish between human visitors and crawlers, so all kinds of visitors are logged in the log files. One key aspect of doing analysis to ensure that the unwanted traffic is eliminated by a series of filters set in the software.

Advantages of log-file analysis

  • Cheaper if you already have the IT infrastructure in place.
  • If you are concerned about security and privacy of data and don’t want to host it anywhere but on your computers.

Disadvantages of log-file analysis

  • Requires you to hire an in-house expert
  • Need large amount of space on the local hard drives to store the log files (if your site gets a lot of traffic)
  • Requires you to eliminate a lot of traffic
  • The numbers are less accurate than page tagging because of caching servers

Page Tagging

Page tagging works by inserting a small javascript code on all the pages that you want tracked. This usually works as a hosted solution. So you need to sign up with a web analytics company who would provide you with the code. The cost implications are two fold

  • The money you pay to the web analytics company on a monthly basis. This is usually based on page views. The more popular your site is, the more expensive it would get.
  • The effort involved in inserting the javascript code on all the pages.

Advantages of page tagging

  • Easier to get started. As soon as you insert the code on all pages, you can start seeing the data.
  • Does not require technical people – All you need to do is insert the page tags in all the pages. You don’t need a technical person to manage or maintain the data. It is hosted on the vendor’s machines.
  • More accurate – Increasingly visitors are being served web pages from proxy servers or cached servers. Log files would never log these hits. But page tagging solution would record these numbers.
  • No unwanted traffic – Does not track crawlers, images, and other unwanted files.

Disadvantages of page tagging

  • Data is hosted on someone else’s machine. Per se, this is not a big issue because the vendor is likely to have more security than what you have. But some companies are uncomfortable with the thought of storing their data on someone else’s machine.
  • Cost – Could get really expensive if you get couple of hundred thousand page views a week and it’s a recurring cost.
  • Complexity of inserting javascript – if your site is large, complex and does not use templates you might find it difficult to insert javascript on all the pages.

What next?

Fill in our contact us form to know how Nabler can help. It would be our pleasure to assist you in making your business succeed.

If you would like to know more about our Web Analytics services, please see our Web Analytics Services page.

Contact Us