Assessing Traffic Stats: Do You Know What They Mean?

The moment we create a website and have been round for a while, we start talking big, using “appropriate”  terminology, because everyone else is and that is the only way we are seen as knowledgeable.  But how many of us really know what all those traffic terms mean?

What is the difference between hits and page views?  I know at least some of you are stumped!!

I did not say all, so do not be offended if you are a high-flying marketer that actually understands everything.

We all know that to achieve perfection in something, we need to dig deeper and gain familiarity with all related aspects.  It is the same when it comes to assessing your traffic.

The various traffic analyzing solutions out there give you a host of details related to your website traffic, which can help you work on your SEO better.  But what good are they if you do not know how to read them?

Let “read” some of the more important stats:

Visitor: A human visitor coming from a particular IP.  We are not talking of bots here.

Unique visitor: A human visitor that has never visited any part of your site before and is visiting for the first time.

Repeat visitor: Clearly, it is someone who is not visiting for the first time and may have visited one or more times in the recent past.

Hits: A web page consists of several files; each of these files is considered a hit when the page is loaded. Hits are not necessarily loading “pages.” There may be several different elements on a page, such as pictures, images etc. Whenever a visitor opens any of the elements on a page, it is considered as a hit.  Visiting a number of elements makes it “multiple hits.”

Page views: When the visitor loads one of the pages on their browser. It is considered to be a page view when a visitor looks at a page on the web site, irrespective of the number of hits on that page.

Visits: When a human visitor or a bot visits your web site, it is counted as a “visit.” There can be a number of hits or page views in a single visit.

Multiple visits:  Made by a single visitor that visits your pages more than once.

Bounce rate: This is the rate of visitors who visit a page and leave from the same page without going further and visiting any other pages.  This helps determine the effectiveness of an entry page.  A web page that has the capacity to lead visitors to different pages on the website will show a low bounce rate.

Time on site:  This is the time visitors spend on your site and when they spend long, it could mean that they find your site interesting. However, the problem with this is that many visitors may just leave their browsers open even when they are not viewing your site, giving you misleading information.

%Exit:  This reveals the number of visitors that exit from a particular page on a website.

One of the most common myths is that the website needs lots of hits, because hits are felt to be synonymous with traffic. For example, if there are 20 images on one of your web pages and the visitor opens some or all of them, it generates hits.   There can be hundreds of hits from a single page view.  If someone tells you that they had X number of hits, you now know that it is not an indication of the number of visitors to their site. There are many webmasters who mistake the number of hits as visitors.

The most appropriate way to measure your website activity is by assessing a variety of traffic stats, such as the number of unique visitors, number of page views, search engine traffic, keywords through which your organic traffic landed on your web site, files that were downloaded the most, the way these visitors move around the site and a whole lot more.

Knowing what these stats reveal helps you, as a webmaster, in several ways.  They can come in handy even when you are buying a website, because most people selling sites show elaborated stats, which may not always reveal the exact status of a website.

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