The answer of this question is that a user might make many visits, one visit might consist of many pageviews and a page might generate a number of hits.
Very often we see the terms visits, pageviews and hits around the web. But what does each of them mean?
👥 Visitors (1)
• visitors load websites and view pages;
• a visitor can make multiple visits;
• there are new/unique visitors;
• and returning visitors;
A visitor might be also each application that requires loading a resource or a website's page.
The web browser people use to go to websites is also a visitor on the Web.
👁 Pageviews (2)
• pageviews are also known as: pages, impressions, pages viewed;
• these are the pages a user has viewed;
• the very first page a user opens is called an entrance page;
• the last page a user visits is an exit page;
When a user goes to a certain website he usually loads a single page to view at a certain point. This web page has a URL such as mysupersite.com/products.html. When a user accesses the mysupersite.com/products.html page in their browser, the page counts one impression which means that is has been viewed once. Pageviews are counted only when a page's URL (.html, .htm, .php, .asp, .aspx and others) is accessed.
🎰 Hits (3)
• each request to the web server is considered a hit;
• loading a web page can generate numerous hits;
Hit is each request sent towards the web server and each file sent to the web browser. Requests are usually made because of requiring or sending information. To load a certain web page, each resource is requested separately from the server. The resources of a page are: the page's file (.html), the pictures’ files (.png, .jpg...) and all other web resources (.js, .css...).
One web page, for example, usually consists of four files: two pictures, a .js script and a .css file. When this page is loaded by a user, he will generate 5 hits – 4 of them for the resources/files and one hit for the .html file.
Hits are actually records in the web server access logs. For example Apache records of the following type:
220.127.116.11 - - [06/Jan/2017] "GET /robots.txt HTTP/1.1" 200 80 "-" "Mozilla/5.0 (compatible; Exabot/3.0)"
18.104.22.168 - - [06/Jan/2017] "GET /wp-includes/js/jquery/jquery-migrate.min.js HTTP/1.1" 200 7200 "-" "Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; CPU iPhone OS 7_0 like Mac OS X)"
In case you notice increased CPU time usage, generated by the hosting account you can check details in Awstats. If the server load is caused by aggressive or "bad" bots there is a way to restrict their access to your hosting account.
🔃 Visits (4)
• “visits" or sessions;
• a user can make multiple visits;
• a visit can lead to multiple viewed pages with lots of hits;
A visit might have duration, number of viewed pages, entrance and exit page. A user can generate a few visits that are separate in time. A visit is defined by the time for which a user goes through a website, opening page after page and then ends the session.
Stats for visitors and visits
The way to track and count visitors is implemented in the website itself. Some of the methods to collect visitors’ data is: by using their IP address, User Agent, cookies, unique registration identifier, etc.
When the number of users is counted by IP addresses, statistics might include the system communication of the web server. Thus the website's application might be registered as a visitor if there is a cron job that needs to access a web page. An example is WordPress’ cron job system that calls the /wp-cron.php file to trigger cron jobs execution.
If you notice increased number of hits to wp-cron in your Awstats tool, you can try moving Cron Jobs from WordPress to cPanel. This will optimize your website's resource usage and boost up the loading time.
Stats for visitors, visits and pageviews can be used as an indicator for the website's popularity and reputation. Information about the hits can be also useful in measuring the website's bandwidth.