If you’ve ever been in a position to look at and analyze the traffic data for a website, you’re probably familiar with the term ‘hit’. Your boss says it. Your clients say it. Your blogging aunt talks about it. The problem is, ‘hits’ don’t actually mean anything. In fact, I don’t even know what a hit is!
Let’s talk about three metrics that DO mean something, and let’s start correcting people when they use this outdated and meaningless term.
This is most likely what people mean when they say ‘hit’. “My site got 1200 hits yesterday!!” What they mean is that 1200 pages were viewed on your website.
Pageviews = The number of pages viewed on your website.
When people say ‘hit’ they may also be referring to the number of people that visited their website in a day, aka, unique visitors.
Unique visitors = The number of people who visited your website
Sometimes a unique visitor will visit your website multiple times in a single day. Think about Facebook–I may be a unique visitor, but I usually log in to Facebook several times a day.
Visits = The number of times your site has been accessed.
These metrics can also be combined to get more insight about your traffic’s behavior. For example:
Pages/Visit (Avg. Pageviews): The average number of pageviews per visit. If you find that your visitors are looking at several pages on your website per visit, you’re probably providing good, relevant content that people find interesting.
Visits/Visitor: Like the Facebook example above, this ratio tells us how frequently people come back to your site. Higher quality sites tend to see better ratios here.
In conclusion, ‘hits’ don’t mean anything. From now one, be specific about whether you’re talking about how many pages were viewed on your site, how many unique visitors came, or how many times your site was accessed.