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Do you Even Understand Website Traffic?
Category: Traffic Building and Analysis
So you look at your traffic reports but you’re confused. What is it telling you when it says you have had 6 visitors and 574 hits? Understanding those traffic numbers can be confusing if you don’t understand the meaning behind those technical terms. Once you get the basics down your stats will be much easier to read and understand.
First thing you will need is a good stat counter installed on your website. There are many hosting providers that will give you one already installed. If you find that it is not giving you the information that you need, you will want to find one that does. Most of the stat counters are easy to install requiring only that you copy and paste some HTML code. A counter that is host based will provide you with stats for your site right on your site while with an outside counter you will need to visit another site. At that site you can set up various projects for each of your websites or blogs to monitor your statistics for them.
Now with a good stats counter in place for your site you will need to understand what all those graphs and numbers mean. To understand the numbers you really need to understand the terminology. Once you grasp the terminology you can dig in and analyze the numbers.
Hits are the number of specific objects that have been loaded into a browser. So if you have 15 objects on a page of your site with one HTML file you will collect 16 hits every time a visitor looks at that page. An object on a page could be a picture, a widget, a text box or a small graphic. On any given webpage you will find several objects and in some cases hundreds or objects. The real thing to remember is that hits are not an indication of the number of actual visitors your site has received.
A visitor is logged for your site when a person visits and receives a cookie that marks them as a visitor. The cookie allows your site to identify them as a new visitor or a returning visitor to differentiate them from unique visitors. If the computer the visitor is using does not allow for cookies to mark them, they will be logged as a unique visitor every time they visit.
Visits define how many times visitors have come to your website. These include both unique visitors and returning visitors to get a total. Because of this the number of visits is usually higher than the number of your visitors, especially when you have a site with content that is frequently updated.
The difference between page views and hits is a page view registers the page as a whole. A view of a page that might have 20 different objects would still only count as one page view. At the same time that page would count as 20 hits every time it is viewed by a visitor.
A referral page or site lets you know where your traffic is coming from. It is useful to know how your visitors are finding your site. Are they coming from a search engine or from that signature link in your favorite forum? Knowing this information tells you what promotion technique is working.
The entry page your stat counter provides will tell you which pages your visitors land on when arriving. Most think of visitors always arriving on the home page, but that is not always the case. Search engines also index internal site pages so if the search engine deems that internal page is more relevant to a particular search it could return that result to send visitors directly to that article or page. When you know where your visitors arrive on site you can make adjustments accordingly.
The exit page is the page that visitors leave your site from. This can tell you if they are quickly exiting when they see the order page and you might need to make some changes. If you make changes to pages that visitors usually exit from you can keep them on site longer.
Now that you understand some of the terminology, you can better understand web traffic. Knowing how, when and where visitors are arriving at and leaving from your website will help you customize your site to make it more targeted, efficient and useful. In the long run, that is what will allow you to earn more traffic and as a result conversions.