What’s the difference between hits and visits? And are hit counters accurate?
Hits refer to the number of files that can be downloaded from a page. If a page has nine images, it counts as ten hits including the actual page view.
Visits refer to the actual number of pages viewed.
Both numbers can be inaccurate. Visits can be inaccurate as they count your own visits (even when editing your site) or page reloads. Hits can be inaccurate as they reflect a web browser’s requests for a file from your web server.
In short, most hit counters are misleading.
Linda Adams had this to say in her article Hits and Visits 101:
Many people focus on the hits or what a counter shows--because the numbers are high. It makes them feel successful, when, in fact, it is very misleading.
A counter simply counts the number of times anyone visits the page the counter is on. That means if you went back to the main page five times during your one visit to the site, the counter would show five ticks. Counters are notoriously inaccurate for this reason; some web masters have been known to keep reloading their page to make their website more seem more popular than it really is. Worse still, if you have one on your site, and it only shows ten ticks on the counter, this advertises that no one is coming to your site.
But what about hits? Be wary of anyone who says they are receiving a large volume of hits. It doesn't mean there are many people actually coming to the site!
Huh? Then what do those high numbers represent? A hit is one file being downloaded. Let's suppose you visit a page with 100 thumbnails on it. Each one of those thumbnails is a file in addition to the web page itself. So, by coming to that one page with the 100 images, you have just generated 101 hits. But only one person visited. So a site that gets 87,000 hits may have only 3,000 visitors, depending on how the site is designed.
But many people often use the hits as a sign of success because the number, for obvious reasons, is so much higher. However, it doesn’t tell you any information you can use to build on your visitors. All it tells you is that you have a lot of graphics and other files on your site.
In addition, there are spam issues associated with some hit counters. Linchpin SEO has THIS article on why you shouldn’t use a hit counter.
If you want to track unique visitors (and more) accurately, try using Google Analytics instead.
So the next time you see a blog or site’s hit counter, don’t be impressed or misled by a large number. A tiny number might be a problem though…
And thank you to all who commented on my hair in last Friday’s post. It does take a long time to dry, which is why I usually don’t. No, I don’t tie it back because I don’t like the way it makes me look. Yes, I can just sit on it. And no, I don’t have any plans to cut it!