Terminology: Hits Are Meaningless

by Ed Tsunoda on October 26, 2007

One of the local business directories here in our area is perpetuating the myth of “hits” and using it as a metric to validate charging money for advertising. Verbatim: “receiving 400,000 hits per month hits per month with some 120,000 unique users.” And here’s why that’s funny.

A hit is not a visit or a user. It’s a file request from the server. A hit is a request for one file from a web server. For example, if you request (i.e. visit) a single web page which contains only text, the web server will send you that page as a file. This process is called a hit. The problem with the above claim is that the home page of the site in question has over 30 images and files embeded in it, so if they really had 120,000 unique users, even if those users only looked at the home page, it would generate no fewer than 4 million hits.

There’s a good simple rundown of the explanation of “hits” and what they mean or don’t mean here: http://www.hits-explained.com 

But, in general the word “hits” should be a red flag when you are spending your Internet marketing budget. At best it means your talking to someone who doesn’t know what they’re talking about, at worst they could be intentionally trying to deceive you.

Look for Internet vendors who use terms like Alexa rating and PageRank and visits per day and page and ad views. Any one metric can be easily BS’d. Look for business partners who can show a variety of third party metrics that support each other.


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