A quite recent piece (March/April 2009) in the M.I.T. Technology Review considers some of the issues around web site visitor statistics. In “But Who’s Counting” Jason Pontin considers the problems with the techniques employed by such as ComScore and Nielsen Online which include employing panels as they do for TV, along with log analysis.
Unfortunately, the pretty crude alternative to this seems to involve tagging by third parties to allow them to analyse the result. More unfortunately, despite venture capital investments there are clearly no bright ideas yet.
Having supported the work by the Socitm/GovMetric CAIS on visitors, I’m still surprised at how many visitors council web sites are purported to get in comparison with other channels, and this is obviously the case in the private sector with businesses wanting to gain accurate feedback on their web investments.
In the case of council sites I suspect its just as important as the private sector to employ qualitative feedback to improve the sites. The numbers, however counted, will increase.