Understanding Website Traffic

As a website owner it’s important to understand website analytics. How many people are going to your website? Are they reading what you have to say? Are they buying your products? There is only one way to know. Good site analytics. The problem is there are so many statistics available sorting through these numbers can be a daunting task. Below, I’ve provided some basic analytic information to help you decipher this numerical nightmare.

Unique Visitor:

A unique visitor is a visitor coming from a single IP address. Basically, if I visit your site today I’m counted as 1 unique visitor. If I return to your site 10 more times from the same IP address I’m still counted as 1 unique visitor.



A visitor is the total number of people who visit your website. If I visit your website 10 times today I’m counted as 10 visitors. Remember, if I make those 10 visits from the same IP address I’m only counted as 1 unique visitor.

Bounce Rate:

Bounce Rate is the percentage of visits where the user enters and exits at the same page of your site without visiting any other pages. So, if I were to visit your home page, look around for a minute, then leave without going to any other pages my visit would be counted as a bounce.

Time on Site:

Time on site is the average amount of time a visitor spends on each page of your website. If your average time on site is 3:11 this means that your site visitors spend an average of three minutes and eleven seconds viewing each page of your site.

Page Views:

Page views are the number of times a particular page is requested from the website server and displayed in the end users browser. If you have a high number of visitors, and a low page view count this means you have a lot of people going to your site but they are not finding it useful. A low page view count usually goes hand in hand with a high bounce rate.


For a long time everyone talked about website hits. Basically, this is a meaningless statistic. Hits count every single item on your webpage that loads; HTML pages, images, links, headers etc. Hits might be important to your site developer to assist with reducing page load times but it means nothing to you as far as site traffic.

Traffic Sources:

Another important stat to keep track of is your traffic sources. This tells you where your visitors are coming from.

The three main traffic sources are:

  1. Search Engines

    This represents the percentage of overall visitors that reached your site via a search engine such as Google or Yahoo.

  2. Referring Sites

    This represents the percentage of overall visitors that reached your site from a direct link on another website.

  3. Direct Traffic

    This represents the percentage of overall visitors that reached your site by typing your unique URL (domain name) into their web browser.

It’s important to know your traffic sources.  This is where your site visitors are coming from. If your Search Engine percentage is high then visitors are finding your site on the first page of Google or Yahoo results. If your referring sites percentage is high then you have a good number of external links to relative websites. Finally, if your direct traffic percentages are high then you have a memorable domain name. Visitors know who you are and how to find your webpage without searching for it.

Improving your website traffic takes a solid understanding of your visitors. Using analytics is your first step in gaining that understanding. If you want to keep the traffic coming, monitor your site statistics on a regular basis, and learn what those numbers are trying to you.