Basic Web & Ad Statistics Explained
What The Numbers Say About A Site or Campaign's Success or Failure
Revised December 12, 2016
Originally Published April 2002
Traffic statistics can provide a great deal of insight regarding the potential success or failure of a web or marketing campaign.
However, to understand traffic statistics, one first must know the definition of the terms used for web and ad statistics.
Understanding the key terms, and how each interrelates, provides clarity as to how the campaign is performing, and how to best move forward for the greatest return-on-investment.
Unique Visits vs. Total Hits
Unique Visits express the number of unique computers/users that have visited the website or page. Each user often has a unique IP Address; often this corresponds directly to a computer used by someone to visit that page.
Total Hits express an aggregate total of website visits whether the unique visitor has been to the site once, or has returned five different times; each hit counts towards the Total Hits.
- When a computer goes to the website, that computer's information is logged into the statistics database, and counted as one unique visit.
- If the user on that computer goes to five different pages on the website, it still counts as one unique visit, but would be five total hits.
Hits By Day, Page Hits & Entry Pages
Some other basic, yet important terms are Hits by Page, Hits by Day (Hour) and Entry Pages. These are rather self explanatory terms and are as follows:
- Hits by Day (Hour) is a statistic that allows one to view how many total hits a website receives each day of the week or time period such as per hour.
- Page Hits is a statistic that simply shows how many hits each individual page of a website receives.
- Entry Pages tell a website administrator what page(s) of the website people are using to visit and enter the website. (The Home Page is not always where people enter.)
Other Basic Analytic Terms
- Sessions: Sessions are similar to Visits and notate a total number of "Sessions" within a given date range. Sessions are the period of time a user is engaged and active within a website.
- Pageviews: Pageviews are similar to Total Hits and represent the total number of pages a user viewed within a given Session. Repeated views of a single page are counted as one pageview.
- Users: Users are counted when they have at least one Session within a given time period. Users include returning and new users.
- Pages/Session: Pages per Session is also known as "Average Page Depth" and is the average number of pages viewed during a session. Repeated views of one single page are counted.
- Bounce Rate: The Bounce Rate is the percentage of users that view a single-page on their visit and leave (e.g. visits to the site in which the person left the site from the entrance page without interacting with the page.)
Analyzing The Traffic Report
Knowing the basic traffic statistic terms, and understanding the meaning of each, is only the first step. Analyzing these statistics and what they mean will be what helps to improve the web or ad campaign, and improve its performance.
By seeing where a website, or any other marketing campaign, is lacking helps determine the best course of action to better performance and increase ROI.
Visitor Report Analysis
The Unique Visitors versus the Total Hits provides valuable information for knowing whether a website is performing by actually engaging visitors, or lacking engagement, and in need of assistance.
For example, if a five page website has the same number of Unique Visitors as Total Hits, then we know that no one is going past the home page (first page of the website), hence lacking visitor engagement.
In situations like this, the underperforming website page must be analyzed. Perhaps the page simply does not engage the visitor. Or perhaps the page has actual technical errors that keep the user from moving forward.
Regardless, pages with similar ratios of Unique Visitors and Total Hits must be reviewed to figure out the lack of performance. Once reviewed it can be determined if the content needs revision, there's a technical error inhibiting visitors from moving forward, or another reason.
Daily Traffic Reports
Viewing website traffic based on the day of the week, or even the hour of the day can give great insight into the business and its busy times.
Put simply, a website owner might find that there is a particular day that website traffic is higher than others. Therefore that day the owner might want to pay particular attention to incoming email so as to respond in a timely manner to any email requests about products or services; or perhaps running a special on an off-day can help generate more traffic and sales.
Page Hit Reports
When viewing Hits by Page, a website owner can tell what pages are viewed more often than others. Again, if a particular page doesn't get much traffic, the owner should consider one of two things:
- Perhaps the link to the low trafficked page is not that visible, hence making the link more visible may help improve traffic.
- Perhaps the content of that page is not of interest to visitors, and requires revamping the content for enticement.
Entry Page Reports
The entry page statistic is a great statistic as it will tell a website administrator that a particular page is really popular in the search engines. The top entry page might not always be the home page.
Often when search engines are indexing a website, they find a sub-page that has a great deal of information and well utilized website keywords. Therefore, this page could end up being the page that search engines send people to when searching for a product or service in related industries.
Conversion Tracking Reports
Conversion Tracking Reports measure the performance of media using set indictators. The conversion tracking helps a website or campaign manager know if the site is performing and obtaining the results desired.
Some examples of reports are:
- Conversion rate: the ration of orders/sales to visitors
- Drop off rate: the ratio of visitors that started a process but failed to complete
- Click through rate: the ratio of total visitors whom have been exposed to an ad campaign or advertisement, and of those exposed, how many clicked through
- Registration rate: the ratio of visitors to a site that have registered versus those whom have visited and not registered
- Interaction rate: the ratio of visitors whom have viewed an ad or campaign and some how interacted even if they did not purchase or complete the sale
Traffic Statistics Summary
There are numerous other website analytics and statistics to pay attention to when truly attempting to get the best return on website investments.
However, the above noted terms and statistics are the basics, and most important statistics to start with. When truly understood, these statistics depict a website's true performance and whether there's room for improvement and increased profits.
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