Terminology and Definitions

Agent
A web browser or other software application used to access a website. Also known as a "client" or "user-agent", these programs can be controlled interactively by a user (i.e. a browser) or they can be automated and used to scan the Internet and gather information (i.e. a search engine). See also: Spider.

Broadband
Refers to Internet data speeds faster than what can be achieved by using traditional telephone modems. ISDN, DSL, and Cable modems are all examples of broadband technologies.

Browser
An interactive software application used to display web pages.

Codec
An acronym for Compressor/Decompressor. To deliver streaming audio and video over the Internet using the limited data rates offered by modems, the audio/video data is first compressed before transmission and then later decompressed before display. The software responsible for this is referred to as a Codec.

DNS
An abbreviation for "Domain Name System". The DNS is a globally distributed database that associates IP addresses with easy-to-remember names. The DNS database also imposes a structure on the formation of domain names, which gives the Internet it's "dot" hierarchy.

Domain
An easy-to-remember name that specifies a host on the Internet. Domain names are made up of sub-domains each seperated by a dot and terminated with one of the top-level domains (com, edu, gov, mil, net, org) or a two-letter country code.

DNS Lookup
The process of converting an IP address to a domain name. In many cases, log files only contain IP addresses. Each IP address must be converted to a domain name to recover city, state, country, and other information.

Element
The smallest piece or component of a web page. All web pages are built out of small elements that are assembled together to create the final page. These elements include text, images, Java applets, and sound files.

Entry Page
The first web page viewed by a visitor in a multi-page session. See also: Session, Exit Page, and Single Page.

Exit Page
The last web page viewed by a visitor in a multi-page session. See also: Session, Entry Page, and Single Page.

Hit
See Request.

IP Address
A numerical address used to uniquely identify a host on the Internet. An IP address consists of four numbers seperated by periods that are combined to identify one of 4,294,967,296 potential Internet hosts.

Logfile
A file that contains information about accesses to a web server. These files usually contain text information and are organized in a wide variety of formats including "common", "combined", "extended", etc. Early web servers generated seperate files for hits, errors, referrers, and agents. More recently, this information has been combined into a single logfile.

Operating System
The type of software operating system the browser, client, or agent is running under.

Page Impression
Indicates the request, delivery, and display of a web page. A page impression differs from requests by only counting the overall page display, where requests count every element on the page. For example: if a web page contains four images and the page is displayed three times, that would be a total of three page impressions and fifteen requests.

Platform
The type of hardware system the browser, client, or agent is running on.

Referrer
The web page or Internet resource being displayed when the visitor clicked on a hyperlink or entered a new URL. In many cases, a referring page will contain a link to another web page. Otherwise, the referring page won't have a link but will simply be the page being displayed when the visitor typed in a new URL. The referrer may also contain search keywords if the visitor came from a search engine.

Report
A collection of web pages that contain website analysis information for a specific website over a specific timespan. Each report page will contain a navigation bar, large summary graph, and detailed statistical information. The navigation bar will let the user move to the previous or next page in the report, or to the report's table of contents.

Request
An access by a browser or other agent for a single web page element. Because web pages are created using many individual elements, it is possible that requesting a single web page can result in dozens or hundreds of "hits" to the web server.

Session
A block of time spent viewing a series of web pages on the same site. A single session can last several hours or just a few minutes. A timeout value (usually set to 30 minutes) is used to determine how much idle time is allowed between web page accesses in the same session. For example, if a visitor views a web page, then 20 minutes later views a second, and then 15 minutes later views a third, this would be considered a single session that lasted 35 minutes. It's considered a multi-page session if more than one page is viewed, and a single-page session otherwise. See also: Entry Page, Exit Page, and Single Page.

Single Page
The only web page viewed by a visitor in a session. See also: Session, Entry Page, Exit Page.

Spider
An automated program that searches the Internet for information. Also known as "Web Crawlers", these programs gather and index the content, metatags, and keywords found in web pages. The spider then adds every hyperlink found on the web page to it's list of web pages to scan. It then moves on to the next web page in the list, scanning every web page until the list is empty. Search engines are the largest users of spiders on the Internet.

Stream
A single audio or video program delivered over the Internet. A "demand" stream is one that is archived on a server and can be accessed at any time. A "live" stream is one that occurs as the event is in progress. Demand streams can be paused, restarted, or repositioned; live streams cannot.

URL
An abbreviation for "Uniform Resource Locator". A URL is the Internet equivalent of a postal address - it contains all the information needed to locate and access a file. A URL begins with a connection protocol, followed by a server domain name (or IP address), followed by an optional port number, and finishing with an optional path and file name.

Visitor
A unique individual who views the web pages found on a website. Visitors are identified by a unique domain name or IP address, so if two people use the same computer or browser, they will be considered a single visitor.