Traffic stats – what is the meaning of hits, visitors etc.?

The traffic stats are an important part of the website management routine. We use Webalizer as a traffic generating interface.

Basically, there are several specifically used terms. Below you can find their meanings:

Hits represent the total number of requests made to a website during a given time period (month, day, hour etc..).

Files represent the total number of hits (requests) that actually resulted in something being sent back to the user. Not all hits will send data. The latter include 404-Not Found requests and requests for pages that are already in the browser’s cache.

Sites is the number of the unique IP addresses/hostnames that made requests. Many users may appear to come from a single site, and they may also appear to come from many IP addresses, so it should be used simply as a rough gauge of the number of the visitors to your server.

Visits occur when some remote site makes a request for a page on your server for the first time. As long as the same site keeps making requests within a given timeout period, they will all be considered part of the same Visit. If the site makes a request to your server, and the length of time since the last request is greater than the specified timeout period (the default is 30 minutes), a new Visit is started and counted, and the sequence repeats. Since only pages will trigger a visit, remote sites that link to graphic and other non-page URLs will not be counted in the visit totals, thus reducing the number of false visits.

Pages are those URLs that would be considered the actual pages being requested, and not all of the individual items that make it up (such as graphics and audio clips). They are often being referred to as “page views” or “page impressions”. Usually a page is any file with an extension .htm, .html, .cgi or .php.

We are including some common definitions as well:

One KByte (KB) amounts to 1024 bytes (1 Kilobyte). It’s used to show the amount of data that was transferred between the server and the remote machine, based on the data found in the server log.

URL – Uniform Resource Locator. All requests made to your domain name need to specify the exact resource that is requested. A URL represents an object somewhere on your server that is accessible to the remote user. If it’s not, the user will receive an error (i.e.: 404 – Not found) page. URLs can be of any type (HTML, Audio, Graphics, etc.).

Referrers are those URLs that lead a user to your site or caused the browser to request something from your server. The vast majority of requests are made from your own URLs, since most HTML pages contain links to other objects such as graphics files. If one of your HTML pages contains links to 10 graphic images, then each request for the HTML page will produce 10 more hits with the referrer specified as the URL of your own HTML page.