Small Business Websites

Unique Visitors vs. Page Loads

Written by Anna Lempereur for Gaebler Ventures

What makes your Web site more productive, or what makes your Web site a success? Here we take a look at the number of unique visitors and page loads. What do you look for to determine if people are looking at your site?

While checking the traffic statistics on your blog or Web site, you have the ability to view how many page loads, unique visitors, and returning visitors you receive on a daily basis.

Web sites such as StatCounter allows you to analyze statistics and shows how your Web site has progressed since its formation. When looking at StatCounter, page loads and unique visitors always display the most amounts of hits. Let's break the two down and decide which is best for site growth.

Unique Visitors

Unique visitors are simply different visitors who view your Web site, including both first-time visitors and returning visitors from a previous day. If your Web site has 10,000 unique visitors, it means 10,000 different individuals visited your site that day.

You want to increase the number of unique visitors because that is the core of exactly how many people are visiting your site. If you have 11,000 unique visitors by the evening, and five of your morning visitors return to your site that same evening, you will still have 11,000 unique visitors. Those five visitors will now show up as returning visitors. It also means that if one person keeps refreshing your Web site, the number of unique visitors will not change.

Page Loads

The number of page loads you receive per day is the number of times the pages on your Web site have been visited. If your Web site has 40,000 page loads and a new person visits your site, the number will change: you will have 40,001 page loads. However, after you have 40,001 page loads, and that visitor refreshes your Web site, you will have 40,002 page loads. If they then visit four pages on your site, you will have had 40,006 page loads. The number of page loads on your site will always be higher than the number of unique visitors.

If you divide the page load statisic by the unique visitors statistic, you get the average number of pages viewed by one of your site visitors.

What Should You Focus On?

So the next time you view your page statistics, which of the two numbers should you be shooting to increase?

Unique visitors. Although you will never have as many unique visitors as you have page loads, you should always try to increase the number of unique visitors as much as possible. The display of unique visitors shows exactly how many people visit your Web site, which helps to indicate your progress in attracting web traffic to fuel the growth of your business. For this reason, when launching a new website, we recommend you first prioritize increasing the number of unique visitors to your site and then secondarily focus on page loads.

Anna Lempereur is a freelance writer interested in writing about small business. She is currently a Journalism major at the University of Albany in New York.

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