Track Your Traffic
One of the things that you need to do is to watch the traffic to your website. You will need some source of tracking information to keep track of the traffic to your site. By tracking the traffic you can gain valuable information.
You want to know the source of your traffic and what pages are of the most interest. This information can help you to optimize your site and can also help you to gain more traffic. You have to attract visitors and keep them on your site if you hope to monetize your site.
What tools are available?
I presently use Google Analytics for traffic analysis. I am not sure that this is the best option, but it is free and it does give a lot of information in an interface that is easy to navigate.
My web host offers two options as far as traffic analysis. I have checked both of them and find that overall the presentation from Google is easier to use. There was one piece of information with the more comprehensive of these options that I have not found with GA. That program shows how many people have bookmarked the site.
Free or Paid Analytics
There are free and paid analytic services available. The paid services would probably provide more and better information than the free services. I have not tried any of the paid services so I don't have a recommendation of which might be good, but you can do a Google search and find many options from which to choose.
What Can Be Learned from Watching Your Traffic
The experience that precipitated this article came to me this morning as I was checking through yesterdays traffic. One of my sites gets mostly search engine traffic (a good thing). This is a niche site on Mixing Live Sound. I have noticed that a good bit of the traffic comes from a specific search term. If I do a search for that term the page on my site shows in the second or third position in the Google results.
This particular term has one meaning to people in the live music business, but it has another meaning for a portion of the general population. I could see from the bounce rate and time on the page that the visitors today were from the general population rather than from the industry. This hints that there may be an opportunity for a niche site concerning the subject of this search.
How Can You Use the Information?
Knowing what your traffic is looking for can help you to make your site more useful and more popular. If you notice that a particular article is drawing a good bit of traffic it may suggest topics for related articles. If the traffic is looking for something unrelated to your site it may suggest that there is opportunity for another niche site. If this is an area that is out of your field of expertise you can research the field easily using the Internet and educate yourself enough to put up a site catering to this other niche.
Content is King
Content is what draws search traffic. Knowing what your visitors are interested in can allow you to concentrate on the areas that are likely to gain you more traffic in the future. It can also suggest other areas where you may be able to put up a site that draws significant search traffic, and remember, search traffic does not cost you an out-of-pocket expense.