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The Importance of Referrer Logs

The Importance of Referrer Logs

Referrer logging is used to allow web servers and websites to identify where people are visiting them either for promotional or security purposes. You can find out which search engine they used to find your site and whether your customer has come from a ‘linked site’. It is basically the URL of the previous webpage from which your link was followed.

By default, most hosting accounts don’t include referrer logs but may be subscribed for an extra monthly fee. If your web host does not provide a graphic report of your log files, you can still view the referrer logs for your website by logging into the host server using free or low-cost FTP software, like these:
(links have been checked and are OK)

FTP Explorer:   http://www.ftpx.com/(costs around $40 but free trial available)
LogMeIn: https://secure.logmein.com/dmcq/103/support.asp (free trial available)
SmartFTP: http://www.smartftp.com/
FTP Voyager: http://www.ftpvoyager.com/
Filezilla: http://filezilla-project.org/ (the free one I use which is very good)
Ipswitch: http://www.ipswitch.com/ (which is a professional standard FTP solution which I also can recommend)

The log file is available on your web server which can be download into your computer later. You can use a log analysis tool, like those mentioned below, to create a graphic report from your log files so that the files are easier to understand.
(links have been checked and are OK)
Abacre Advanced Log Analyzer http://www.abacre.com/ala/
Referrer Soft http://www.softplatz.com/software/referrer/
Log Analyzer http://www.loganalyzer.net/

You can view the files using Word, Word Perfect, txt or WordPad files even if you don’t have the right tool. This information is very crucial to your business and marketing plans and is not advisable to neglect it.

In addition to identifying the search engine or linked site from where your visitor arrived, referrer logs can also tell you what keywords or keyword phrases your client used for searching.

As referrer information can sometimes violate privacy, some browsers allow the user to disable the sending of referrer information. Proxy and Firewall software can also filter out referrer information, to avoid leaking the location of private websites. This can result in other problems, as some servers block parts of their site to browsers that don’t send the right referrer information, in an attempt to prevent deep linking or unauthorized use of bandwidth. Some proxy software gives the top-level address of the target site itself as the referrer, which prevents these problems and still not divulging the user’s last visited site.

Since the referrer can easily be spoofed or faked, however, it is of limited use in this regard except on a casual basis.

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