When you consider getting set up with a new hosting provider for your website (blog, e-store etc.) one of the key features you need to make sure is included is that of analytics.
Analytics are basically the statistics of your website. Why would this be important you might ask. You want to be able to know where people are coming from to visit your site. If you have an affiliate link of some sort, you want to make sure you can determine where your traffic is coming from in the outside world.
If you think about marketing of old times, a company might put an add out in the newspaper, on radio or in the local pennysaver. Unless there was a specific item or code the customer used, you would have no way to determine where the traffic was coming from. Perhaps they made different ads for each place (which takes extra time, effort and sometimes money if you hire a designer) that allowed them to determine where it came from.
In magazines sometimes there will be a code related to the issue and date etc., though online this seems to be a little more difficult. if you go to some website which allow you to post a link to your site that gets blasted out to multiple other sites and social networks, you have no idea where the traffic is coming back from to visit your site.
Analytics help this out in letting you know such things as where you visitors where from, in regards to country as well as what sites they came from. This can then allow you to tweak how you run your advertising campaigns and save you money. There is no need to continue spending money on ads in one location if it does not bring people into your sites.
Google Analytics is one program that allows you to do this for free (if you have a Google account of course) though if you do not know the first thing about HTML and code for developing a website, you will be totally at a loss for setting this up. Some hosting providers provide varying degrees of analysis that can help you determine if your efforts have been set up appropriate or not.
Having a combination of these two is sometimes necessary to cover all the bases and also get you ranked better on Google itself as they are getting your data firsthand instead of generically. When you go to get your first web hosting provider or if you are looking to change, make sure you have some sort of analytic framework with which to validate your investments.
Dave Gardner likes to know where his visitors come from. You can get the same traffic analyzer he uses to keep track of your websites at http://MyGVOTrial.com.