Website Hits vs. Visits: Defining Web Success The Right Way

There’s a reason you don’t see hit trackers on websites anymore. These days, it’s all about quality, not quantity.

Scrolling counters were meant to show the popularity of a website. But, the number of hits is an inflated figure that shows no real value. The quality of your web traffic is shown in visits.

It’s very common for people to incorrectly use the words hit and visit interchangeably. If you’re scratching your head and asking what is the difference between page visits and hits, don’t worry. You are not alone. It’s as common a question as what’s the difference between effect and affect?

But, lucky for you, hits and visits are easier to understand.

The number of hits will always be the bigger number. That’s why people throw it around; it sounds impressive. Designers put all sorts of bells and whistles (graphics, java applets, the html file and so forth) on a website to attract and keep a visitor’s attention. When someone visits that website, the server loads up all that stuff, counting each item it loads as a hit.

A Quick Math Overview

Let’s say you have an overzealous web designer who creates a page with 99 different elements on it. Let’s say you visit your site to gaze at his or her creation. You log on, the server loads it all up, marking a hit for every item it displays. When it’s done, you’ve logged 100 hits (99 for the elements and 1 for the html file). Let’s say you get 9 of your friends to check out your page, too. When they’re done, you check your stats and find you have 1,000 hits! I must be getting a lot of traffic, you’ll exclaim. This is too good to be true! And, of course, it is.

So, that’s a lot of math. Let’s suffice it to say 1,000 hits looks good, but in reality, you have only had 10 visitors. So, it makes sense that you should focus on the number of visitors, specifically unique visitors. You’re probably scratching your head again, asking again what’s the difference?

Unique Visitors

Well, every time someone views your page, they are counted as a visitor. That means if they follow a link off your page and then come back, they are counted again.  If they reload your website, they are counted yet again. It’s easy to see how this number can become cloudy.

To determine unique visitors, this is where a web traffic analysis program comes into play. It’s a tool that’s used to extract the number of individual visitors from all the above information discussed. What it does is determines all the hits that came from the same IP address, thus identifying a unique visitor, i.e. someone who visits your website once or many times.

You Have to Measure In Order to Plan

It’s this type of true measurement that will show you a clear view of your website’s traffic. It will show you how visitors are getting to your site, how they are getting around it, and when and how they’re leaving. It will show you the true reach of your website and will help you make good decisions to increase it.

In other words, using analysis to affect your web strategies will have a positive effect on your web success.