From time to time you need to measure how successful your web site has been. Has it achieved the goals you set for it?
There are many ways to gauge the success of a web site, but one common measurement is to do with visitors. This Tip explains the difference between hits, visits, visitors and page views.
Hits count files not people
Back in the 90s web sites would include ‘hit counters’. [And some sites still have them!]
Hit counters are useful for analysts interested in how a web server is performing. They’re not very useful for anyone else, because what they count is how many times a web page requests information from a web server. They don’t count how many people reach that web page.
Most web pages include a logo, images, buttons, scripts, perhaps ads, a stylesheet to describe the look and feel, and many other items.
When 1 person visits an ‘average’ web page the server may deliver 10 or 20 or 30 or more files — each one is a ‘hit’.
Knowing how many ‘hits’ your website received is about as useful as knowing how many individual drops of rain fell in the last shower.
Page views tell how many times a page was looked at
‘Page views’ are more useful. If I visit your web site and look at 1 page that’s 1 page view. If I then look at a different page, or load the same page again, that’s another page view.
1 person may view 20 pages on one website, or 2 or 300.
Visitors count people
‘Visitors’ tell how many people looked at some or all of your website. If I come to your website then I am 1 visitor. But how long did I stay?
Bounce rates are extremely valuable
A ‘bounce’ is someone who leaves your website very quickly — too quickly. Why?
Perhaps your web site is so well designed, so well written that a visitor can find the information they’re looking for in a flash and leave again.
What’s more likely is they found the colours off-putting, the first few words of text too boring or too hard to read. Maybe they were confused by your page layout or pages are too slow to load.
Perhaps you can change your web site to keep visitors around longer. Check how quickly pages load with the free Web Page Analyzer.
The results page includes helpful suggestions for improvement.
Make sure your pages are well written following the rules of writing for the web.
Make sure your site collects statistics
Make sure your web designer gathers proper statistics for your web site — not just ‘hits’. Use those stats to improve your site and better meet your goals. One excellent and free stats package is Google Analytics.
Install it now if you don’t already have it.
Unfortunately, thanks to Government cutbacks, my contract to write Tips for the Communitynet Aotearoa Panui newsletter has been cancelled. The November Tips are the last. Do you need a writer or trainer? I’m available for and looking for casual, short-term and long-term contracts. See my Portfolio then Contact me.
Written by Miraz Jordan for, and reproduced from CommunityNet Aotearoa Panui, November 2011. This article has been modified for publication here.