Hits (Number of Hits)
In the sphere of online marketing, “hits” or “number of hits” don’t just refer to the number of people who visit a website. Yes, the term originates from the early days of the internet, where each webpage consisted of a single file. In those days, a “hit” described a request made by a fellow internet user to access a website file and view it. In simple terms, one file request made to the web server equaled one “hit.”
But fast-forward to today’s internet and webpages are commonly made out of multiple files. A hit still represents a request made by a computer to a web server, so for each file that’s opened during this exchange, a hit is recorded. As such, a single visitor can generate dozens, if not hundreds of hits with just one website visit.
What Constitutes a File Request or “Hit?”
Just to give you an idea of how many files can be requested from a site, and hence be counted as a hit, we’ve listed a few website elements that commonly boast their own file:
- Style Sheets (CSS) (often one for each HTML file)
- Additional HTML files (usually one for each page on the site)
With the increasing complexity of web design, organizing files has become more complicated. A single file is rarely enough to display any more than a simple text-based site. This doesn’t factor in any design, graphics, or any additional data used to organize multiple pages on the website. To put this all into perspective, the average web page gets at least 15 hits.
Can You Use Hits to Measure Online Activity?
As you’ve probably already gathered, using the term “hits” to count website visitors is outdated and inaccurate. But, you’d be amazed at how many people still get confused about the difference between website visits and website hits! This obsolete term is still used as a matter of legacy, and as such, it never quite died… Despite its inaccuracy.
Some website owners are guilty of boasting about the number of hits they’ve generated when they want to make their site seem busier than it actually is. After all, the average person in the street probably wouldn’t know the difference.
Instead of “hits,” it’s better to use “visits” or “sessions” to measure each individual and intentional website visit.
What is a Website Visit?
Let’s talk about what a website “visit” means in terms of numbers.
This usually consists of three page views or impressions (where each page view represents a visitor clicking around the webpage navigating to new pages). On average, this equates to 45 hits. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a first time or return visitor, this kind of online activity all counts as a “visit.”
“Unique Visitors,” on the other hand, tracks the website visitors that arrive to browse on your site for the very first time. But, it’s worth noting that the accuracy of this metric is dependant on whether users have cookies installed.
The key takeaway here is if you’re looking to see how much traction your site has gained, be sure to check your site’s visits instead of hits.