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I recently bought a handful of similar domains. None of the domains are currently hosted, but if I were to host a blank page with a tracking code on each of them I would be able to monitor incoming traffic to each domain, correct?

My goal is to monitor the traffic for each domain until I have completed development of the website in order to compare traffic and determine which is the most popular. I plan to use the most popular domain to host the website and then use the other domains to redirect to this one.

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I were to host a blank page with a tracking code on each of them I would be able to monitor incoming traffic to each domain, correct?

Correct, although I would avoid a completely blank page and at a minimum use the opportunity to throw a simple page up there with "Coming Soon" or similar. If you want a stretch goal, you can stick a form on these pages inviting people to leave their email address for more information or be notified when the site launches. You could also sign up for AdSense and get a little revenue while you decide. Why waste a perfectly good domain on a blank page? :)

I am completely new to analytics and this area of web development. Are there any alternatives to Google Analytics? Or is Google Analytics the best there is?

There are lots of alternatives to GA and a quick search will reveal them to you. GA just happens to be the leader in the space and I would recommend starting with that.

  • Thanks so much for the great suggestions. Hm... I've tried searching, but the results are flooded with GA-related content. Names? Are they also free? – PrimitiveNom May 17 '17 at 22:40
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    If you can get your log files, it would be fairly easy to parse them yourself for this purpose. You could run them through free open source analyzers like awstats or webalizer – Stephen Ostermiller May 18 '17 at 8:32
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    Piwik, Clicky, Kissmetrics, FoxMetrics, Mixpanel, Heap, Gauges, Open Web Analytics, Mint, StatCounter, W3Counter, Woopra, Chartbeat, et al. Not all of those are free and they all excel at slightly different things when it comes to tracking. A search for "alternatives to Google Analytics" should pull all the results you need. @StephenOstermiller's suggestion to parse your own logs is also good. – JCL1178 May 18 '17 at 17:55
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ISPs are doing this on a massive scale by monitoring failed DNS requests and are selling the information to admarketplace.com and others. You might be able to DIY this by monitoring traffic on a public WiFi that you control or using your cable modem as many of them show your neighbor's traffic as well as your own.

I wouldn't be shocked if the operators of the DNS root servers were defraying some of their expenses by selling this information as well.

  • Wow. That's super interesting. How do you know ISPs are monitoring and selling this info? – PrimitiveNom May 17 '17 at 22:38
  • I'm a big enough corporate user that providers take me out for drinks occasionally. Get one of their techs sufficiently lubed up and they'll tell you all sorts of neat stuff. When new terms or people make it on the news there are a flurry of hits on variations of the names and terms, these get snapped up as parked domains at bulk rates for a few months until they either get sold or languish. – nutcase May 18 '17 at 20:16
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  1. Setup your own DNS server and have it log all queries, failed or not.
  2. Update your domains to use your DNS server.
  3. Parse the log files.
  • i could use a spare PC laying around to do that, and it would be smart to leave it on 24/7, correct? fuck setting up personal servers is so complex and thus difficult ): – PrimitiveNom May 18 '17 at 7:54

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