What are Website "Hits" Anyway?

Which number should you track? “Hits” or “Visitors“?

Well, let’s look at what the difference is between a hit and a visitor.

Hits: A “hit” is not a visitor but a hit on the web server. What is a hit on the web server? When a website loads, it needs to pull graphics, java applet, and html file/code, from the web server to display your website properly. So, if your site has 79 small graphics on the page — including the html code/file, every visitor to the site registers as 80 hits on the server! So really your 80,000 hits are just 1,000 visitors loading your page once.

Visitors: Actual people who visit your website, or here’s a technical definition: A visitor is a person who visits your site and their browser accepts a cookie. By this definition, a visitor is a human being, and their actions are ‘human’ events, because only humans use javascript to navigate the internet (search engine spiders don’t read or act on javascript).

You might have noticed that many web site owners tell you the “hits” for their website to purposely make you think that a “hit” is a “visitor”, and to inflate their numbers.

**But don’t take my word for it – here’s an article about why you shouldn’t measure hits from one of the Web Analytic programs, Opentracker.

So what’s the lesson learned?

Make sure you are measuring real people.

It is not helpful to you or the community you serve to inflate the number of visitors you promote that you serve. If your visitor numbers are low, you will find plenty of tips on this blog about how to really increase the number of potential volunteers (visitors) who find your volunteer opportunities and learn more about your nonprofit.


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