We use Funnel Web to keep track of the visitors to our site. As well as statistics for the site as a whole, it also produces stats for the most popular pages, URLs, downloads, exit pages, etc.
One thing that confuses me is the different numbers of requests, sessions and visitors we can have to a single page. I understand the difference between visitors and sessions (a single visitor can have more than one session/visit to the page) and I also understand the difference between requests and sessions when referring to the site as a whole (it might take several requests for a single page to load, one for the text and one for each graphic/etc), but when we are talking about a particular page then what is the distinction between requests and visits?
The number of requests is always more than the number of sessions - e.g. One particular page had 95 requests, 60 sessions, 39 visitors and 0 errors.
Can anyone tell me how to explain this difference???
You should probably check the docs on your particular software to see how they define these terms because usage varies and what stats are collected determines exactly what can be used. However, for the software I use it’s something like this:
Request: individual server action in response to a client request. As you note, a single page may result in many requests because the client requests the URL, loads the HTML content, and then requests each resource listed within (images, etc.).
Sessions: an individual browser’s visit to the site as a whole. This collects all requests from a single IP during a certain timeframe into one “session”, and is a measure of how many times your site was visited, regardless of whether the visitor hit only one page or browsed the entire site. How a session is defined depends on the timeframe used to collect hits from a single IP (fixed window of time or a timeout setting). The count is typically low because many visitors may be logged under the same IP if they’re browsing from behind a proxy server.
Visitors: an individual browser’s visit to the site collected over a much broader timeframe than a session. This collects all of a single IP’s sessions into one count. Typically this is used for weekly or monthly stats, and comparing “visitors” to “sessions” gives an indication of repeat visits versus first timers.
Some reporting software avoids the term “hits” because the definition of this term is vague. However, a lot of software will report “hits” as all the “requests” for page content. That is, take the request count and eliminate images, shockwave, applets, include files, etc. This leaves HTML pages, ASP, JSP, CGI, etc. which are called as main content rather than subsidiary resources. Since it’s hard to define what’s main content and what’s not, hit counts are often misleading, leading to the use of sessions and unique visitors as a more useful metric.
Thanks for that micco - I don’t think you have really answered my question though…
Here’s what the Help files for Funnel Web say (with respect to statistics stored on each PAGE - as opposed to the site as a whole):
To me, this seems to indicate no real difference between Requests and Sessions. The distiction seems to be between “views” and “visits”, which to me are the same thing. Yet one particular page gets 95 requests, 60 sessions, 39 visitors and 0 errors - indicating that they are quite different…
Just a WAG, but is it possible that someone trying to open a page generates a request automatically. If the operation times out or they abort then they haven’t actually viewed the page, resulting in more requests than sessions/visits.