Website Analytics Definitions and Explanations
I often get asked questions such as:
What is the difference between a visitor and a unique visitor?
Should I care about page views?
How many hits should my website get?
These can all be answered with some basic website analytics definitions and explanations. Let’s start with the most important ones…
UNIQUE VISITORS: The number of different computers that have gone to your website.
For example, if one person on one computer visits your site three times in one week, he would be counted as one “unique visitor” for that time period. They are counted as one “unique visitor” regardless of how many pages they view.
Note that this is typically tracked by IP address. In other words, if three different people visited your site from the same computer, it would likely be considered one “unique visitor”. Your website can’t tell the difference between the humans, just the computers.
This metric is typically the most important.
VISITORS: The number of times your website has been gone to.
Let’s take the same example as above. If one person visits your site three times in one week, he would be counted as three “visitors” (but only one “unique visitor”).
Note that it does not matter how many pages he goes to. It is counted as one visitor unless they leave the site and return later.
Also note that this is the most common analytic used when talking about websites. Everyone wants to know how many visitors their site gets.
PAGE VIEWS (or simply PAGES): The number of pages that have been visited on your website.
For example, if five people visit your site and visit 10 pages each, it would be counted as 50 page views.
Note that this is typically not a very good metric to go by on its own.
HITS: The number of times your website has been called upon.
For example, if a person visits your site and clicks on one page with 3 images and 2 photos on it, the number of hits would be 6. Why? Loading the page counts as one “hit”. Loading each of the 3 images counts as 3 “hits”. Loading the 2 photos counts as 2 “hits”. Total hits would be six.
Note that generally speaking, hits are irrelevant. Although the term was popular years ago, it is seldom used anymore. Stick with “visitors” or “unique visitors” and you will be getting a more accurate look at your traffic.