Web Site Traffic – The Most Flattering Number

From Daryl Scott, President and CEO of Attaain, Inc., creator of competitive intelligence software AttaainCI.

A few distinctions to keep in mind when talking about Web site traffic:

Unique Visitors: This is the smallest number and reflects unique visits, not counting duplicates/repeat visitors.

Total Visits: This includes duplicate/repeat visitors, so is at least as large as Unique Visitors, and sometimes much larger for sites with lots of repeat traffic.

Page Views: A stat sometimes quoted showing how many different website pages are accessed by visitors.

"Hits:"  This is the total number of requests made to the server. Even a single visitor can make many requests to the server (accessing lots of different pages as they browse around a site, refreshing certain content on the same page, etc.). So the number of "hits" can be relatively huge compared to the number of visits or visitors.

Many people (and especially advertisers when quoting how much traffic their sites get) like to think about their own web traffic in terms of how many "hits" they get, since this is the largest (and most flattering) number to quote.

However, each stat can provide its own insights depending on what you are trying analyze for your own site, or competitors’ sites. If you are trying to see how good a job is being done in attracting new visitors, then the Unique Visitors stat might be important. If building repeat traffic is a key objective, then looking at Total Visits compared to Unique Visitors (the difference being repeat traffic) would be relevant, and so on.

Most importantly, if you are comparing sites, then you need to be certain that you are comparing apples-to-apples when considering any of these stats in order to get a meaningful comparison.

The business acceleration program offered by VT KnowledgeWorks includes member companies Handshake Media, Incorporated—of which Inside VT KnowledgeWorks and Handshake 2.0 are ventures—and Attaain, Inc., provider of competitive intelligence Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) AttaainCI.

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