When an IE user bookmarks your site it requests favicon. You get 404 when it cant find favicon.ico
One question though. Weve been assuming that every time we get a favicon hit we are getting a new user who has found our site worthy of a second visit at least. But I'm not sure that it's also counting retrievals for people who have already bookmarked. I guess it would be referred to in the long with a code meaning somthing like (Content already downlaoded) Is that correct? So a favicon hit could mean either a NEW user or an OLD user who just maybe laoded their favourites/bookmarks list?
No, it's definitely a user who just bookmarked your site. When they do so, it copies the favicon.ico file onto their machine. Only if they updated their bookmark somehow would it get the favicon.ico file again. Just looking at their bookmarks would not retrieve the file again.
Woz, we considered this, but in our case MSIe4+ users form a substantial majority of our users.
The best we can do is assume that people using other browsers are of similar demograhic (BAD assumption really as I feel NS has a bigger usage in academic settings and experienced users) and just extrapolate to the whole population and accept that figure as the best available estimate of the proportion bookmarking (with about a .33 level of confidence!)
Yes. Favicon.ico is a really good way to track bookmarks. The way that favicon works is that when someone bookmarks a page, it first looks for favicon.ico in the local directory. If it doesn't find it there, it looks in the root of the web site. So this gives you very substantial amounts of information. It tells you exactly what directory people are bookmarking. On my web sites, about 80% of the people are using IE. I may not be able to tell anything about how many bookmark out of that other 20% (which 10% may be spiders, proxies, weird UAs, and other bots), but it does give me a very substantial demographic on how many people are bookmarking the site using IE.
You can also add a separate icon to an individual page. Use this:
You could even do something dynamic, such as when someone bookmarks the site using IE, on the next page they download within a session (1/2 hour on the same IP address), offer them a discount or some other benny. This might require some significant programming on the server, but it might help conversions and make repeat customers. If someone bookmarks the site, they are a very good candidate for making a sale.