What Is The Difference Between Unique Visitors and Visits?
If you are new to SEO and digital marketing, you may be unsure about the difference between the terms unique visitors and visits. Both of them are metrics used by Google Analytics to track activity on a website, and while they sound alike, they are actually different.
Here’s what you need to know about these two terms and how they impact your business SEO and marketing efforts:
What Are Visits?
Visits are the total number of people who have visited your website in a period of time.
Let’s say you are looking at a week’s visits. If the same person has visited the website every day, this will count as 7 visits. If 3 other people have visited the website too, you will have a total of 10 visits, coming from 4 unique visitors.
Visits count website entrances. If a person comes to your website, looks at 3 pages and leaves, it will count as 1 visit. But if they come back on 3 different days and visit a page each time, it will count as 3 visits.
What Are Unique Visitors?
A unique visitor is an individual who has visited your website in a certain period of time.
Let’s look at a week’s period as our example again. If the same person comes back 7 different times during the course of the week, they will count as one unique visitor, with 7 different visits.
You are practically guaranteed to have more visits than unique visitors, unless every person comes to your website only once.
Tracking unique visitors can thus be slightly inaccurate in the following cases:
- Browsing from incognito mode
- Blocking cookies
- Using different browsers on the same device
- Using different devices
- Clearing cookies from the browser(s)
In most cases, unique visitor numbers will be inflated, as counting cookies is not quite the same as counting people.
Why Are Unique Visitors And Visits Important?
It is important to keep track of your unique visitors and total visits for several reasons.
First of all, the number of unique visitors tells you how big your audience really is. While there may be some cookie-related inaccuracies, they should be minimal.
The number of people who keep returning to your website will tell you how good your content is and how well you are matching search intent with your pages.
Depending on the nature of your website, it may be perfectly normal for visitors to only come to you once. For example, you may have a blog about refrigerators. People don’t usually google anything about fridges unless there is something wrong with theirs. If you successfully solve their problem, they aren’t likely to come back, as they simply won’t need to.
In general, you want to see people returning, either via organic search, social media or directly. You also want to see both unique visitors and visits increasing month after month, as this will signal you are reaching more people.
How To Track Unique Visitors and Visits
You can track both unique visitors and visits in your Google Analytics.
Note that unique visitors are actually called “users”, and visits are called “sessions”. You can see these terms pop up in various reports, from the Reports snapshot which gives you a general overview of your website traffic, to your Sessions and Views reports.
Should You Care More About Unique Visitors or Visits?
Whether you care more about unique visitors or visits will depend on the nature of your website.
In the most general terms, if your goal is to attract new customers or clients, you will want to increase your unique visitor numbers. If you monetize your website via ads, it won’t matter if the same people keep seeing them, so you will essentially be monitoring your visits.
If your website is content-based, i.e. a blog or a news website, you will want to make sure your visits are constantly on the rise. However, you will also want to ensure that new people keep coming to the website, so you can’t completely ignore unique visitors either. This is how you grow your audience.
The same principle applies if you monetize your website via affiliate programs.
On the other hand, if you run an ecommerce or an SaaS business, you will want to keep attracting new people. While nurturing old leads and increasing average order values will be an important element of growth, you will need a constant influx of unique visitors to convert.
Note that there are two other important metrics you should keep an eye on: bounce rates and engagement.
If you have a lot of unique visitors but they keep bouncing, you are not matching their search intent and they are not finding what they are looking for on your website.
If they are engaging with your content and look at more than one page (this is called “views per users” in Google Analytics”), you’ll know you have done a good job.
How To Get More Unique Visitors
You can use all kinds of digital marketing tactics to get more unique visitors:
- Optimize your content for specific keywords
- Employ search engine optimization best practices
- Run paid ads on search or social media
- Enhance your social media presence
- Run PR or influence marketing campaigns
- Get featured on other websites
The list of course does not end here. There are dozens of ways to generate more website traffic. All you need to do is consider your audience and the nature of your business and find the tactics that are most likely to perform well.
How To Get More Visits
Incidentally, the way to get visits is also a way to get more unique visitors. And while all of the above mentioned methods still apply, here’s what you also need to do:
- Create great content
- Carefully align content with search intent
- Provide great user experience
- Improve your internal linking structure
Link Whisper is here to help you with this last point. Our automated internal link suggestions and internal link reports will help you identify pages that can be interlinked, pages that need more internal links, and pages that may have broken links.
Internal linking is an often underrated yet very simple SEO tactic that can improve both user engagement and website rankings. Both will also help you get more visitors.
While the difference between unique visitors and visits isn’t a massive one, it’s still useful to know what these two metrics mean and how you can influence them to grow your website and your business.