Spring training is in full swing and if you are playing baseball this is probably an important question. When it comes to measuring the success of a website, however, the term “hits” should be banned like performance enhancing drugs are banned in baseball. Wait, they are banned right? Remember the days when websites would brag about how many hits they received per day? You would visit a site and they would have the “Hit Counter” at the bottom of the home page. The perception was the higher the hit count, the more popular the website. Those days are long gone, but I am still surprised people refer to their “hits” as a measurement of their site’s success.
As defined by Webopedia.com, a “hit” is “The retrieval of any item, like a page or a graphic, from a Web server. For example, when a visitor calls up a Web page with four graphics, that’s five hits, one for the page and four for the graphics…” Given this reality, the number of hits has no bearing on the popularity of a site. If one visitor can count as many as 10 “hits” or more in one visit depending on the number of graphics on a page, I’m sure you can see the reason website “hits” as a measure of success is so flawed.
It’s said that Page Views or Unique Visitors are better metrics to determine the success of a website and that’s true when comparing them to counting hits. But if you run a website that offers a product or service, you ultimately want visitors to convert into customers. If your average visitor navigates through 10 different pages and spends 10 minutes on the site, would you consider your site successful? If you had 1 million unique visitors a month, would you consider those visitors qualified? I don’t think either one of those metrics, by themselves or together, provide enough data to determine the quality of the traffic or success of your site if you’re selling a product or service. They’re an upgrade from counting “hits”, but then again batting .200 is an upgrade from .175, but neither will keep you in the big leagues!
When evaluating the success of a website, if I had to choose just one metric to hang my hat on, it would be cost per conversion. But I would recommend you review all the metrics together to get the best picture of the “health” of your website. Ultimately, you want visitors to make a buying decision and engage in a transaction whether it’s purchasing a product or subscribing to a service before they leave. Does it matter if they spend 10 minutes on your site or 1 minute before they convert? Maybe, but I am sure it matters more if they convert first and foremost. Next, look at the other metrics to determine how to lower your cost per conversion and optimize your site’s usability. Just don’t count hits, unless you are in spring training.