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|Web Page Counters|
It is very useful to have a counter on one's home page so that one knows how many hits there have been. If you are running with an ISP which supports CGI scripts you can write or add your own PERL programme but for most people it is easiest to use one of the counter services. There are a number available, many free of charge, and they all basically work by adding some code to your page which downloads a small image file from the site which provides the counter service - every time the image is requested the counter is incremented. To make the counts realistic the better services only increment if the hit is from a different domain to the last hit and some can be programmed to ignore your own domain.
We have used a counter from WebCounter since we started the site and it has always proved very reliable and consistent. The basic counter is free and is good for up to 1000 hits a day - over that they provide a professional counter which provides additional statistics at a small cost. All they ask is that you have a link to the site or display their logo - a small price for an excellent service.
We started to look at other counters from when it looked as if the WebCounter service was going to be discontinued. The latest free counters also provide statistics on the visitors to your site in various ways. They can obviously record the domain name of the visitor and the more clever ones access various bits of information on the computer which is downloading the image via some java script on your page. This information is uploaded as a parameter to the call for the image and stored away until you ask for it from the site providing the Counter service.
We assessed one from TheCounter.com as they were reported to the best currently available. We found it very useful and have now added them to all the entry points to our site. They provide loads of statistics, and you have the choice between showing an advert (for the service), counter + advert, counter, or absolutely nothing, and it is also free. The statistics provide statistical information on the screen resolution, browsers used, java enabling as well as lots of other things to help one optimise the site design. It also gives information on the actual referal domains and visitors domain for the last 30 visits and even tell you about visits resulting from Search Engines and provides the search strings used. Very informative and I have opted for an emailed summary every week. It does not however seem to be as fast to load and/or reliable which is reflected in a lower hit rate being recorded to our master counter from WebCounter.
The procedure in most cases is to go to the site of a Counter service and fill in a Registration Form and you will be provided with a Counter, the code to add to your page and a way (via a password) of obtaining the statistics, if available, and configuring the counter display. In doing so you are subjected to advertising but it does not end up on your pages - some may ask you to add a credit to your site or inform a number of people about their service so they get more people visiting and reading the advertising (no completely free lunches). Most sites allow you to chose the size and format of the counter graphic on your page - there is no point in having a 6 digit counter on a personal site!
Other Counter Sites I have heard about are located at
Copyright © Peter and Pauline Curtis
Content revised: 3rd July 2000