Website visitors up, pageviews down?

As one of my many duties, I’m responsible for keeping our organization’s website up to date. Since I know nothing about design or programming, this generally means uploading new copy onto already existing pages.

But I do look at our site statistics. The site has enjoyed robust growth in vitistors since we set it up, but the number of page views is actually declining. I don’t know anything about site analysis. Does this mean that more automatic search engines are connecting with our site? Are more people hitting our home page and moving on to another site? Are they so familiar with our site that they just bookmark a single page, check it for updated information and move on?

I’m not asking how to get people to drill deeper into the site, just what the numbers mean. Is there another statistic I should be looking at (people at work told me a long time ago to disregard hits.)

I really depends on how you define “visitor”; or I should say, how your log analyzer defines it.

I rolled my own log analyzer a while back and defined a visitor by looking at their sessions (I defined a session as the number of pageviews a person created until a 20-minute lapse of inactivity). If this is similar to your software, an increase in sessions/visitors, but a decrease in pageviews would mean than you’re getting more people coming to your website, but they’re looking at fewer pages during their visit (proportionally).

This probably isn’t due to search engines spidering you since spiders tend to traverse intrasite links. In fact, increased spider activity would actually cause the reverse of what you currently see.

Hope that helps.