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Hits vs. page views: Who wins?

Back in the day, say 1999 (19 years ago already!), hits were the big thing. Hit counters were still on those hideous home pages, often times right under the super-fancy, obligatory ‘under construction’ animated gif.

So glad the internet evolution moved quickly out of that era! Anyway, even though we don’t see hit counters much anymore, we still see the word hit being used. A term we see a lot more of these days is pageview. Is that the new term for a hit? No, it actually means something entirely different.

As a blogger, it’s essential for you to know the difference between the two. When you check your reports, server stats, rankings and other diagnostic tools, don’t you think it’s kind of essential to know what you’re actually looking at?

Here are the basic definitions in my words:

Hit: A file sent to a browser by a web server.

Pageview: A page “viewed” by a visitor.

Still confused? Let’s say you go to a single web page with a video and five pictures. That’s seven hits (one for the HTML file, one for the video and one for each image). It’s also one pageview. So what’s a better metric?
Winner: Pageviews

Pageviews are more relevant since it’s much more reliable. A visitor looking a page could have 100 pictures on it, or 101 hits, and still be counted as a single page view. If we used hits as a measuring stick, that would skew the data, wouldn’t it? That’s why Alexa uses page views, not hits.

The irony is that hit counters don’t actually record hits; instead, they record visitors…or did they record visits? Tomorrow’s battle visits vs visitors! (And why hit counters were always utterly useless.)

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