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K. Definition of pageviews, visits and unique visitors


A useful analogy for understanding visitors and their behavior is to think of your web site as a physical location, such as a store. When visitors come in, we "virtually" follow them around and watch what they do. Then, we tell you about it in our reports.

Due to our concern for the privacy of your visitors, we don't ask them for their name or any personal information, but we can count them as they come through the door, and determine if they've been in before, if they have come in a number of times, if they easily find what they're looking for and if they buy anything.

The "value" of visitors to your store depends on when they came in as well as what they do. For example, if you're having a one-week, year-end-sale, you are interested in visitors for that week. With our report for the week, you can evaluate your sale. On the other hand, if you have a one-day special, our report is focused on just that one day.

What is the value of customers who come in every day? It depends on which of the two events we're evaluating. They are unique potential customers, counted once, in each of the reports on the individual days, and they are unique potential customers, counted once, in the sale week report.

Unique Visitors and many other statistics in the OneStat reports depend on the period of time that you are evaluating.

A fundamental statistic for the analysis of your web site is the number of individuals who visit in any selected report period. It is important to know if they have been there before, and if and when they come back.

It is also important to separate visitors from their visit behavior. The count and averages of visitors tell you one thing about your web site, and the numbers or averages of visits tell you something else.

For example, increasing numbers of new visitors tells you that the web site is attracting visitors. Returning visitors tell you if they like what they saw.

First-time visitors are easy for OneStat to count; they arrive without a cookie. Returning visitors are recognized by their cookie; subsequently, their first appearance within the current report period is counted. The sum of first-time visitors and returning visitors is the total of unique visitors for the report period.

Since the definition of unique visitors depends on the report period, unique visitors are called hourly unique visitors, daily unique visitors, weekly unique visitors, monthly unique visitors, and yearly unique visitors. Unique visitors are counted when they first arrive in the report period, and thereafter, should they visit during the report period again, are counted as repeat visitors.

Unique Visitors
When comparing reports of different periods, it is important to remember that not all of the statistics compare directly. For example, visitors who visit once on every day of a week are unique visitors in each day report. However the unique visitor totals for all of the day report periods do not add up to the same numbers as the week report period totals.

Returning Visitors
Similarly, returning visitors are defined in the context of their time frame. Until a web site has accumulated some history, it is not unusual for the returning visitor total to diminish as the report period grows longer. If your web site is one year old and your report period is one year, you couldn't have any returning visitors? those who visited before the current report period and return. On the other hand, as your web site matures, the returning visitors total should grow.

Counting Visits
An accurate count of individual visitors for a report period is essential in understanding their visit behavior. First-time and returning visitors are counted only once for the period of the report; however, all of their visits are counted.

Each time a visitor enters your web site is counted as a visit. It does not matter whether the visitor is there for the first time, has come back within the report period or is a returning visitor?all visits are counted.

A high ratio of visits to visitors may be a good thing, but then again, it may not. If your web site makes an announcement each day that you want your visitors to see, an average of seven visits for each unique visitor in a weekly report is a perfect record. However, if you want your visitors to make a purchase and the average of visits per unique visitor is seven, there may be a problem with your site or promotion, unless they made a purchase on each visit.

Another way of looking at visits is to examine the visit frequency?a different measure from the average visits per visitor statistic. Remember, counting visit frequency is not the same as counting returning visitors.

Once you have identified your potential customers as unique visitors, you can use the many other statistics in OneStat to understand how well you are achieving the objectives of your web site?or what you might need to do to see improvement. Visitor behavior, as measured in number of visits, average visits per unique visitor and frequency of visits, is a fundamental key to this understanding. How you interpret these numbers and the conclusions you draw depends on your web site and on your objectives.

First-Time Visitor: A first-time visitor is there for the first time.

Returning Visitors: A returning visitor is someone who has visited your web site at some time previous to the current report period, and returns to visit the site during the current report period.

Unique Visitors: Unique visitors are individuals who are different from any other visitors within the report period.

A single visit, also called a visitor session: includes all of a visitor's activity from the first page view until he or she either exits the web site or remains inactive for 30 minutes.