Hits, Unique Visitors and Page Views - Studying Web Traffic.
Author: Michael Bloch
When studying your web site traffic, it is important to be able
to differentiate the above terms. A question that webmasters are
often asked is "how many hits does your site get?". You then need
to ask "do you mean hits, unique visitors or page views?". Many
hit counters, such as the FrontPage 2000 component can be a little
misleading. This particular hit counter only measures page views
and if you sit on a page clicking the "refresh" button, it will
increment. In order to get an accurate picture of your web site
traffic flow; you'll probably want a more detailed reporting tool
A hit is the result of a file being requested and served from
your web site. This can be a html document, an image file, an
audio track etc. etc. Web pages that contain a large number of
elements will return high hit scores. Hits are of very little
consequence when analysing your visitor demographics.
A page view means just that. Once again, it is not a true indication
of how many different people are visiting your web site, but it
is a good way to judge how "sticky" (the ability to retain the
interest of visitors) your web site is and is an important consideration
regarding the possibility of attracting high paying advertising.
A unique visitor is where stats really count. It is someone
with a unique IP address (when you log onto the Internet, you
are assigned a unique IP address, or if you are a cable modem
user your IP address is usually "static", it never changes) who
is entering a Web site for the first time that day (or some other
specified period). Your IP address is an identifier, while you
are using it, no else on the Internet can utilise that particular
set of numbers. Your number is counted once, usually for a 2-24
hour period, dependent up the tracking software. So no matter
how many times a visitor refreshes or navigates through your web
site, they will only be counted once for the specified time period.
This is by far the more accurate way of analysing web site performance.
When you divide the number of visitors by the number of page
views, this can give an excellent indication of whether traffic
is transient or is staying on your site. If the average is one
page or under, you can be pretty sure that there is something
on your pages that is scaring people off. Perhaps the load time
is too slow or your opening statement is inappropriate. Remember
that due to bandwidth considerations, those first few elements
that display as your page is loading may be the deciding factor
as to whether a visitor waits around for the entire page to load.
Studying your web site traffic can take up a fair amount of
time, but it is definitely worth it. Of course in amongst all
this you need to be able to make the time to carry out promotion,
maintain linkages, develop new content etc etc etc. Running a
large, content rich site is definitely not a part-time job!
Michael Bloch firstname.lastname@example.org
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