Monday, February 19, 2007

Discovering More Information about CONTENTdm Users by Using W3C Format or Google Analytics

If you are hosting your own CONTENTdm in a Windows-based server, chances are you don’t know your users very well. At the Ball State University Libraries, we recently switched how our server records users’ visits by changing the server’s log format.

With the old format, NCSA log, we relied on the CONTENTdm Report Generator and Google Sitemaps to determine how popular a collection was. A lot of other information was buried in the log files and required effort to dig out. Examples are users’ platforms or browsers, crawlers, busiest time for use, most popular search engines keywords that direct users to our site, where our users are coming from, etc. Some of the information above is impossible to dig out from the NCSA log format because it is simply not recorded. Using a commercial log files analyzer did not help us much either.

After considering the advantages and disadvantage of both NCSA and W3C formats, we decided to switch our log format to W3C Extended and sacrificed the CONTENTdm Report Generator.

We gained two major advantages:
1. We now know better which search engines drive the most traffic to our site, which allows us to assign keywords more efficiently to our collections.
2. We now can identify other entries, such as the users’ platforms and browsers down to their versions, referrer, crawlers information, etc.

Those sites that rely heavily on CONTENTdm Report Generator are not completely out of luck at learning the above information. This is because Google offers a service that can provide valuable information about your site’s visitors, and best of all, like most of the services Google has been providing, this one is also free!

Google Analytics provides some of the data you would expect from commercial log processing software. Examples of the data are Daily/Monthly/Weekly visitors, entry/exit pages to/from your site, referring URLs, browser types, search engines, geographics, keyword suggestions, error reporting, and a lot more.

To take advantage of Google Analytics, you need only to manually add six lines of code to each page that you want to track.

To get started, register your site at,

For more information, contact P. Budi Wibowo, Ball State University Libraries’ Head of Digital Libraries and Web Services,, (765) 285-8032.


Post a Comment

<< Home