It’s great to hear business owners talking about their websites and web statistics etc. However, there is something which always makes me cringe when I hear it…and that’s “HITS“.
What are HITS?
Hits are an old fashioned way of measuring website traffic – it is a fatally flawed method (as you’ll soon see) and, as such, can give business owners a false sense of security that their website is actually performing well (when it may not be). Allow me to explain…
A website is simply a collection of web pages. Each page may well be different with different text, images etc.
So, let’s pretend you have a simple 1 page website which has 5 images on each page (it’s a really contrived example but you get the picture!).
If someone visits your website then this will register as 6 hits (1 for the web page itself and 5 more for the images).
If your web page had 10 images on it, then a single visit would register as 11 hits.
If your web page had 100 images on it then a single visit would register as 101 hits.
If your website had 5 pages each with 50 images then a single visit would register as 255 hits.
As you can hopefully see, to the layman, there is no obvious correlation between hits and actual people visiting your website.
So, if someone says to you “wow!, we have 5,000 hits coming to our site each month” – this sounds a lot – but if each visit actually equates to 500 hits then this is only 10 people!
So what should we talk about then?
Now we have established that “hits” is a poor method of describing the activity of your website, let’s look at a better method – visitors.
Visitors are people (mostly) who have visited your website; human beings who have picked up a mouse, typed on their keyboard or used the web browser on their iPhone etc and have found your website. Visitors therefore is a much better metric for gauging how active and popular a website is.
A small step up from visitors is unique visitors. If you are looking at the activity of your website for (say) a month then you may have 500 visitors – some of these though may be people returning to your website on more than one occasion; therefore your actual number of unique visitors will be less.
What should I do next?
In my experience when a business talks about hits it usually means the following – they (or their web designer) has not installed Google Analytics.
Google Analytics is pretty much the industry standard tool for measuring activity on websites – it’s fantastic – it’s your dashboard of key data – without it your pretty much stumbling in the dark. And, it’s free.
Google Analytics takes a little bit of know how to install and configure properly (and we can certainly help there but, once it’s done, you will have access to a steady and constant stream of meaningful data on which to base decisions – the old adage of “if you don’t measure it then you can’t manage it” has never been so true.
And no, Google Analytics don’t report on HITS…