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Help Desk

Practice Management Help Desk
Tracking the Traffic on a Web Site

Understanding Internet traffic patterns and how patients are finding practice Web sites can be one of the more mysterious marketing questions physicians face. Of course, patient questionnaires and marketing firm surveys can always be used to help glean some of patients' Internet habits, but these methods can be both time-consuming and costly.

One free and indirect way to obtain a snapshot of how effective a practice Web site is in attracting traffic is to use a relatively unknown Web site, Alexa.com. This site tracks and rates Internet traffic to individual sites. Users can see what other related sites visitors are traveling to and obtain the rank of competitors' sites as well.

Interested physicians can begin by accessing the site at www.alexa.com. Once there, they click on the traffic rankings box listed right under the site's title. From there, physicians type in the URL of the site they wish to study and activate the request by clicking on the "Get Traffic Details" icon.

After a particular site has been found, visitors can then access various pieces of information about that site utilizing four separate categories, including an overview page, traffic details page, related links page and sites linking-in page.

The overview page details the traffic rank for the individual site, a listing of other sites that visitors to the site being analyzed are using, some basic site statistics, site contact information and a place for visitors to review the site.

The traffic details page shows a graph of usage over a 3-month span, and goes back to 2 years prior. A helpful feature on this page allows the site being studied to be compared against other sites' traffic. This page also shows the average traffic rank for the past 3 months and the change in rank over that time period.

The related links page repeats information that can be found on the overview page, so there is not much to use there. The last page shows sites that are linking into the site being studied. This feature can be useful to see how some patients are finding a practice Web site.

Editor's Note: Ophthalmology Management has created a new column dedicated to presenting resource information to help doctors enhance communication with their patients and colleagues.