How to Interpret Hits and Pages When Measuring Web Site Traffic

08 Feb How to Interpret Hits and Pages When Measuring Web Site Traffic

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When reviewing your web site logs, you need to understand Hits vs. Pages. This understanding will give you an accurate picture of how much traffic a web page or web site in general, are attracting. My domain host is running Webalizer and logs both Hits and Pages. In this example, I will show how a web server records three hits while delivering one page.

A Hit is a file that you or your web browser requests. In the following example, we will see that a single page request actually generates three hits because it pulls the main page and two graphics that are part of the page (in your web browser).

A Page is the request that your computer makes. If you want to visit index.html, that is a single page request. It will appear in the server logs as one page request.

Suppose you visit a web page named index.html, which is an HTML web page that contains two graphic images, picture1.jpg, and picture2.jpg. A typical server/browser interaction might go something like this:

  • Your web browser (Firefox, Chrome, Internet Explorer, Safari, etc.) asks for the web page index.html.
  • The server sees the request and sends back index.html.
  • Your web browser finds two inline graphic links in the HTML page. It asks for the first one, picture1.jpg.
  • The server sees the request and sends back picture1.jpg.
  • Your web browser then asks for the second image, picture2.jpg.
  • The server sees the request and sends back picture2.jpg.
  • Your browser displays the web page and all included graphics.

Maybe you’ve seen this progression. If you have ever visited a web page on a slow connection, perhaps you’ve seen the page border and text without graphics. Then you wait a few seconds and the graphics eventually appear. That’s because your web browser is grabbing all the parts of the page while you watch. It’s pretty fast, but it is not instant. A lot of work happens behind the scenes before you see a complete page.

In the web server log, the following lines would appear:

67.161.163.23- – [8/May/2012:11:20:39 -0400] “GET /index.html HTTP/1.1” 200 117

67.161.163.23- – [8/May/2012:11:20:40 -0400] “GET /picture1.jpg HTTP/1.1” 200 231

67.161.163.23- – [8/May/2012:11:20:41 -0400] “GET /picture2.jpg HTTP/1.1” 200 432

The log shows very valuable information here. We see that the traffic originated at 67.161.163.23, which is a visitor’s public IP address. The visitor requested the page index.html and any linked files within index.html. This counts as one page request but three hits. Remember, the server is offering index.html, picture1.jpg and picture2.jpg. Three files are sent in response to your single page request.

When you review your web server logs, make sure you remember the difference between Hits and Pages. This can help you get an accurate reading of how much traffic your web page and site, in general, are attracting.

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