If you guessed it is the number of people
visiting your web site you would be WRONG! A common misconception going around in
the Internet world is the term HITS. Many people use the term as a measure
of the popularity or their web site
You will often hear:
"I got 10,000 hits on my web site
or "Our web site gets 50,000 hits a day, boy will you get some traffic
if you advertise here"
or "We can get you more hits for your web site..."
Ok, so what is a Hit then?
First let me explain something about
how a web site works:
When your browser comes across a web
page it sends a message to the web site server requesting that the web
page that you are seeing be displayed. The web page is actually a file
which contains the text that you see on the screen. It also contains
HTML code that the browser interprets to display the web page.
Most web pages contain text, graphics
and other fancy stuff. The file contains the text but not the graphics
etc instead it provides a framework for the graphics to slot into. ie:
bits of code that say "put that picture here please"
Then the browser must also go and get
the images, graphics, sound files or whatever to make up the web page.
The browser will ask the web site server for each of these elements
individually. ie: "send me picture 1 please, now picture 2, ok now
picture 3... Each of these elements is a separate file.
Once the browser has all the elements
it needs to display the web page you will see the web page in full on
your screen. Sometimes this can happen very quickly if the additional
files are small.
Ok then, back to what is a hit? Each
time the Web server sends out a file (any file) it records one
Therefore a web page containing three
pictures = 1 file for the text & framework + 3 files for the pictures =
4 hits. On the right is a server stats page from
FastLook that shows a user has
request the Shoes page. Then the page has requested images and banners
etc. This would be recorded as 20 hits, but it is only 1 page view.
Now, a web page containing just text
would only be 1 hit....and this is where the misconception has arisen
from because in the early days of the Internet text was all there was so
it was an effective measure of site traffic.
But now if you let your advertising
mind wonder a bit, a web page containing text and 10,000 1 px x 1 px
images (this is a very small picture) would register 10,001 Hits...but
there is only 1 visitor.
So in effect the term hits is now
almost irrelevant when quoting web site traffic or the popularity of a
What is a useful measure of web site
traffic then I hear you scream?
The most commonly used web site traffic
measurements of popularity are "unique visitors" the number of unique
browsers requesting web pages in a specified time period from the server
and "page views" the number of pages viewed by any browser during the
same specified time period.
But once again these measurements are
not without there pitfalls.....but the biggest is that they mean very
little if they are quoted independently of each other.
For example, a web site may trick users
into entering and they leave immediately thereby registering a high
unique visitors and a very low number of page views....or conversely the
web site may open a large number of framed pages thereby receiving a
high number of page views and a small number of unique users.