I was at a coffee house a few days ago when I heard two people talking about their website’s rankings. As an IT person, I found this topic interesting. I was seated on the next table and decided to listen to them.

One said that his website gets 10,000 hits per day. The other replied that he gets only 500 visitors. It was a clear victory for the former. That’s’ what they thought until I joined them.

I introduced myself as an IT professional with over 6 years of experience in the web industry and also the webmaster of sarkari result, an international literary magazine. They offered me a seat when I said I could share my experience about website statistics.

The one with 10,000 hits worked for an e-commerce company that sold books online. The other had a website of online photo gallery with 500 visitors per day. The number of hits apart, both had one thing in common: they were newbie to the web industry and were completely dependent to their webmaster. Whatever information was given to them, they agreed blindly.

Looking at their lack of experience, I started by explaining the website statistics in a very easy and understandable way.

I told them that a lot of people mistakenly use the term “hits” when measuring or talking about the number of visitors their website gets. This is a common error.  In terms of measuring website traffic, hits are misleading. What is important is the number of visits your site receives.

When it was over they thanked me, even bought me a cup of coffee.
Through this blog, let me now familiarize you with some important information about Web statistics.

What are Website HITS?

Wikipedia says

hit is generated when any file is served. The page itself is considered a file, but images are also files, thus a page with 5 images could generate 6 hits (the 5 images and the page itself).

This means that the server on which your website is hosted will count a hit as soon as any action is taken regarding the files you have on the server.

For example: photos, video, audio, documents even buttons on your website are all files, and any access to those files counts as a hit.

Suppose you visit indian government jobs

Just by visiting that home page and displaying all these items (or files) on your screen, the server generated:

(15 images + 10 buttons = 25 hits + 1 more for accessing the HTML file itself thus resulting in a total of 26 hits)

And that’s just for 1 Page View. If you refresh your browser, it will generate the same number a second time and so on.

Hits is an important information for server to calculate server load, load balancing, access time, etc.

Which is why one should never refer to the website’s popularity by using the term “Hit”. This term should only be used when you’re talking about the server.

Page visit/View/Impressions

Wikipedia says

page view is generated when a visitor requests any page within the web site – a visitor will always generate at least one page view (the main page) but could generate many more.

A page impression happens anytime you load a page through your browser. Anytime you navigate to a different page or even use your back and forward buttons to get to a certain page, each time you load that page counts as 1 page impression.

A visit is recorded every time someone looks at a page on a website, regardless of how many files have to be downloaded as part of that process.

So, by reading this page you have only caused one extra visit to be recorded in our web logs, but something in the region of thirty hits.

If we accept that this 1:30 ratio is fairly typical, then you can see that the person who talks about having had 90 hits on his website has probably only had about 3 actual visitors. Not quite so impressive!

You can use page impressions to indicate how popular your site is by showing the rate of page impressions per visitor. In other words if let’s say there are 10 page impressions per visitor, this means that your visitors are interested in your website and they keep going from one page to the next because they like your content.

So using page impressions is a good indication of how popular your site is, especially if you’re selling advertising space on it, advertisers would want to know this kind of information since they want their Ad to be viewed as much as possible and if a visitor is going through more than one page, then their chances of having that visitor notice their Ad and even clicking on it is higher.

Another important thing to mention is Unique Visitors.

Website Unique Visit

Unique visits refer to the amount of visits your site receives over a period of time (usually within a 24 hour period)

This means that if a person visits your website and then visits again a few hours later, that is counted as only 1 unique visit.

The way this works is by identifying that persons IP address or sometimes even cookies and checking if there was an earlier visit from the same computer within the last 24 hours, if there was, then the server doesn’t record any new visits by that same person until the 24 hour reset occurs.

If your website is receiving a lot of unique visitors per day, you can defiantly use this as a way of showing off since it’s definitely a lot cooler than page impressions, but also a bit more difficult to achieve unless your website is full of awesome content like openroadreview for example.

So, if you want to get a proper measure of how many people are looking at your web site, and avoid over-exaggerating the popularity of your site, you really need to look at the visitors figure in your web stats rather than the number of hits.

Conclusion

Let’s now revisit the coffee shop conversation.  If the first person was receiving 10,000 hits per day, he was having about 333 impressions/ visits/ views and unique visitors were even lesser. So it is possible that the second one with 500 visitors had more visitors looking at his website. In short, the second could be the real winner.

A basic principle applied by all successful websites today like Facebook, google, Microsoft, yahoo, etc. is that THEY KNOW YOU. That’s their secret. So keep an eye on your visitors and get to know them better.

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