Hits vs. Visitors – Advertiser Beware!

By March 11, 2015Latest News

Has your business ever been approached to advertise on a website? Were you offered a claim that said something like “Our website gets 60,000 hits per month?”  If so, I suggest being suspicious of that sales pitch.

A “HIT” is not the same as a “Visitor.”  A hit is counted when an individual element of a webpage is accessed. A popular news web page that has many graphics, news feeds, pictures and other elements might have 75 elements on it. One visitor coming to this page would then count as 75 hits.

Hits vs. Visitors on Your Website

REAL website traffic numbers. Notice HITS in light blue and VISITORS in orange.

You may find that a claim of 60,000 hits may equate to only 16 visitors per day on that website. It can equate to any number of visitor counts, depending on each web page and its content and construction, but you get the idea.

What is a Website Hit?

A web page is typically made up of a number of individual elements. An element is a photo, a graphic, a javascript, a css stylesheet, etc. When a web page is viewed, each of these elements is requested by the web browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox, etc) from the web server, and each file request increases the hit-count for the website.

A “Hit” is counted each time one of these individual elements are accessed.

For example, if a you visit a web page, and it is comprised of:

  • 25 graphics and images
  • 2 CSS stylesheets
  • 5 java applets
  • 1 html page

then 33 hits will be added to the hit count each time that particular web page is viewed. Then, if that visitor visits 5 more pages with roughly the same build, then 198 hits are counted toward that ONE INDIVIDUAL VISITOR.

So, if this same website is trying to get you to advertise with them, and they claim that they get “60,000 hits per month,” a closer look may show that they are getting only 10 visitors per day to their site.  That’s only 10 visitors per day! Is that how YOU want to spend your advertising dollars?

Here’s how I arrived at the above numbers (NOTE: These figures are based on rough averages and assumptions about the elements within this website)

  • Assuming each web page has an equal 33 elements within a page
  • Assuming that each web visitor visits 6 pages while on the site
  • 6 pages x 33 elements per page = 198 elements viewed, or 198 HITS
  • 60,000 hits per month / 198 hits per visitor = 303 visitors per month
  • 303 visitors per month / 30 days = 10 visitors per day

Doesn’t sound so great now, does it?

To be quite honest, the amount of hits a website gets is really a worthless statistic. Often you will visit a website that has a free web stats counter at the bottom of the page. These free counters typically count hits as well. So when you see a not-so-great web page that show the page has a high amount of hits, this is why (not to mention you can start the count on those hit counters at any number, so they might not have even started from zero).

Website Visitors and Page Views

If you ask a professional webmaster, marketer or savvy business owner, you will find that they are not concerned with hits to a site. They want to know the number of visitors to the site. And they don’t just want to know about every visitor–we want to know about every unique visitor.

A unique visitor is what the name says – it is a unique person visiting your website for the first time. This person’s subsequent visits are not counted. A page view is a page that this visitor viewed. If one unique visitor visited 10 pages on your site, this would count as 10 page views.

Below is a screenshot of a website that we manage. It shows the amount of unique visitors and page views for that site for this past week. Note that “Hits” are not counted (again, a worthless statistic)

Website Visitors and Page Views

Using this example, over the last week, this site received:

  • 6,006 unique visitors
  • 38,059 page views
  • 951,475 HITS

The Hits number was come to by using an average of 25 elements per page for this website. That was multiplied by the 38,059 page views.

Are you following?

Someone might sell you advertising by telling you the site gets just under 1 MILLION HITS per WEEK!  But that is really only 6,000 PEOPLE. Six thousand people per day is still pretty good, but that kind of number is usually reserved for a website that attracts a national audience – not a local one (unless there’s some sexy gossip offered!).

So what about the website bragging about 60,000 hits per month?  Hmmmm, using these numbers above you’re looking at, again, a very small amount of people actually seeing your ad.

Buyer beware. Ask the right questions when talking to someone about traffic number. UNIQUE VISITORS and not HITS are what matters.