Website Stats – What are Hits?

March 20, 2006 by Diane Vigil in

Most web hosting accounts come with website usage statistics so that you can tell what's going on with your website and how people are using it — but these can be confusing, not the least due to a distinct lack of explanation of the terms used!

What is a "hit"?

Sounds like a "hit" equals a visit to a web page, right? Actually, it's more than that. Part of the confusion about "hits" is caused by the way we talk about the Internet … we visit websites, we go to a website. It's a nice analogy, but we do not actually go anywhere; we are not airlifted across the Internet, as this vague analogy would suggest. Rather, websites are brought to us.

Browser address bar When you click on a link or type a website address into the address/location bar on your browser (the program you use to surf the Internet), your browser sends a request to the website for that particular page. The page is then sent across the Internet to your computer, where you view it in your browser. Technically, the page is being downloaded to your computer, for viewing in your browser.

Which is all by way of explaining what a web page request is. It's a browser's request for a web page.

So what, finally, about those hits?

Let's assume the page you have requested has nothing but text on it. That would be one item that the browser sends back to you, so that's one hit.

However, if a web designer or website owner adds a picture to a web page, that picture does not merge (become one) with the web page. Rather, it remains separate from — but referenced in — the page so that it displays where it is intended to display. Thus, adding one picture to a web page means two pieces: the page and the picture. That's two hits.

Of course, most website pages have more than one picture. If someone visits a page with 24 pictures, that's 25 hits. There are even more factors, but we've covered enough here to understand precisely why hits are not the best metric of how much visitor traffic a website is getting.

A more statistically logical question would be: how many pages are being downloaded?

12 Comments for "Website Stats – What are Hits?"

  1. calvin dorman

    I like the way your put this across. Clients often get confused when you try to explain analytical terms. Nice!!!

  2. Sseremba Gyaviira Julius

    This is a concept that confused me so much when I had just started out with website development. I would check in my Google analytic Dashboard when I have lets say 23 visitors but on checking in my host c panel I could be having over 1000 hits. Thank you for this great tutorial.
    Let me also use this opportunity to ask you about the bouncing rate. Its a concept which is still confusing me.
    Thank you

  3. Diane Vigil

    The concept of "bounce" is simply: when people visit one of your website's pages, what percentage of them leave immediately?

    Now, this could be because of the quality of your website, its design, whether it's confusing, etc. And there could also be reasons why they leave immediately that have nothing to do with the quality of your website — for example, they may have been looking for something else.

    So it's important to know what's going on with a website and why, so that you can evaluate properly what to do.

  4. BSK Srivastava

    Hi,

    Thanks for very good explanation of this confusing term.

  5. Bryan

    Thanks you. wondered what this meant from my hosting home page, totally understand now :)

  6. Social web metrics: between the cracks of evidence and confidence | Agile KM for me… and you?

    […] are thus not entirely helpful. Oh, and in case you didn't know by now, a hit really is not a useful metric, even though it's all about finding stuff […]

  7. Radha Vallabh Arora

    Great way to explain… I was also confused with this term a lot.. My website's 200 visits daily get an average of 3-4000 hits and i got totally confused.. Now i get the real meaning.. Can u please also tell what is meant by google indexing..???

  8. Diane Vigil

    Glad it helped.

    For search engines, "indexing" just means that they're picking up a website's pages (and putting them in their index; that is, their search results).

  9. renny

    how to get the total number of items posted within a website

  10. Diane Vigil

    Hi Renny. I'm not sure what you mean. If you're asking how to find out how many pages (or articles) have been posted to a blog, you can possibly log in and find what is called the "shortlink" — which has a number. It's not perfect, but it might be helpful.

    If that's not what you meant, could you explain?

  11. S K Galuge

    It is great way to explain, I learnt something which was confusing me all the time.

  12. Diane Vigil

    Thank you. I'm glad it was of help.

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