Do most companies use page views or hits when giving figures about their website?

I wondered if my own company is unusual in using hits when giving information about the usage of its website. The number of hits differs depending on which page the user accesses, which is in turn dependent on the amount of graphics on that page, so that for example if s/he accesses the homepage, then this might register 80 hits, while a non-graphic press release might register just a few hits.

The advantage of using hits instead of page views is obviously that the inflated figures thereby derived look a lot better: 500,000 hits is preferred to 15,000 page views.

Do any companies go the whole hog transparency-wise and report the number of unique users they get when touting for advertisers? Presumably, given all the “creative” use of statistics around, this would be a selling point provided that those numbers were high.

When we were having a website designed, one of the place we looked at to have it made showed us a stats page for a sample website. When he got to the hits part, he told us we should just ignore that figure since it has to do with how many pictures are on the website. He even went so far as to explain that some webmasters would load up the page with 1x1 white ‘pictures’ so that everytime someone would visit the page it would (like you said) register 1000 hits instead of 3. They could then use this number to go back to the client and pawn it off as the gread job they [webmaster] have been doing getting it to rank high in search engines etc…

Most Internet advertisers are smart enough to know that pretty much all these numbers quoted by sites are inflated, and unreliable.

And irrelevant, too. The only meaningful numbers to an advertiser are:

  • the number of people who actually click-thru to his site.
  • the number of those click-thru’s who actually make a purchase.

And these numbers they can keep track of themself, on their site (accurately, too). So those are the numbers that matter to an advertiser.

Generally, they place an ad on your site for a short period (often asking for a free trial period or at least a discount), track the results, and then decide to renew or not.

Yeah, what folks have said. Hits are 100% meaningless from a marketing standpoint. Anyone who tries to sell that number as important is pulling a con.

Actually, I think most of those small transparent images where used to force certain layout, not to inflate hits. The increased hit count is just a side effect. There were a couple of web design tools that tried to accomplish WYSIWYG by using hundreds of single-pixel spacers. The lousy code they produced was fragile and unmaintainable, but it was an easy way for people who were foolish enough to trust the tools to get a (bad) website online.

Most companies do report hits but only as part of a larger report. We look at hits, page views, unique user sessions, etc. Only by comparing multiple stats can you get the full story. If you leave out the hits, you’re leaving out significant information.

Page views an unique visitors are the relevant metrics. They tell you how many people come to a site and how long they stay.

Hits is a useless metric for measuring your audience, but it is useful to measure your server load. Maybe it’s just me, but if the OP’s ratio is right (500,000 hits = 15,000 page views), that’s way too many graphics.

Exactly. However, you left out one other reason why a website may purchase a link on a page: Google PageRank. The Google PageRank of a page can be found out if you have the Google Toolbar. (Although this is somewhat unreliable.) It turns out that Google for purposes of their ranking algo values links on pages with high PageRank and few outbound links a lot more than those on a low PageRank page with many outbound links. Thus, in terms of ranking well on Google a link on a page with a PR of 7 with few outbound links can have significant value. There are some fairly minor amateur sites that get few hits that have a home page that is PR7. Thus, buying links on such pages can be worthwhile even though few people will ever click on them.