What is a page visit?
A page visit (or visit) occurs when a reader clicks on your website from an external source. This could be from social media, another website, or from typing in your URL directly into their web browser. Once someone lands on your site from somewhere outside of your website domain, it officially counts as a page visit.
In theory, page visits can give you an idea of how many people are actually coming to your website. However, not all page visits are created equal. For example, let’s say someone clicks on your website from Twitter, reads one blog post, and then immediately leaves. This would count as one page visit. However, a website visitor who clicks on your website from Google, reads three articles, and then signs up for your newsletter would also count as one page visit.
Bottom line: While page visits can give you some sense of website traffic, they’re not going to give you the full picture.
Pageviews vs page visits
So, what’s the difference between pageviews and page visits? Differentiating between these two metrics is key for understanding audience behavior and how your audience is interacting with your content.
A pageview is defined as a request for a link on your website. If someone visits your website and looks at three different articles, that would count as three pageviews.
Technically, it’s true that every page visit is a pageview. But not the other way around.
Pageviews can also be a misleading metric, because of bots, refresh rates, cookies, and multiple pageviews per visit. For example, if a visitor encounters an issue with an extension on your page and refreshes the browser, creating a page request, it now counts as a second pageview, inflating your pageview numbers.
Sessions, visits, and users in Google Analytics
Google Analytics, one of the original website analytics tools, has been around since 2005 and is still widely used today. With the introduction of Google Analytics 4, the search engine platform switched from a session-based data model to an event-based one. So visits and visitors are now “sessions” and “users”.
This change was designed to more accurately reflect how users interact with web content. A session is a visitor metric that groups together analytics activities taken by a single visitor (user) on your website. Sessions are time sensitive and end after 30 minutes of inactivity.
Sessions track user engagement with elements like:
- Ecommerce transactions
Why doesn’t Parse.ly track visits?
Now that we’ve established clarity around visits, let’s look at how Parse.ly thinks about them. We don’t track visits, except in a few specific cases. Much more of Parse.ly’s focus is on unique devices/users/browsers with the concept of ‘visitors.’
Focus on real-time analytics
As a real-time analytics provider, visits rely too much on an extended session (typically, 30 minutes for a visit-within-the-day and 30 days for a returning-visit-within-the-month). Whereas, a “visitor is a visitor” whether it arrived at your site in the last 5 minutes or millions arrived at your site across any given time range. Visitors, a metric Parse.ly does track, generalizes better across real-time and historical time windows.
Visits can only be measured reliably in the Website channel, and most Parse.ly customers these days do multi-channel measurements across at least 2 of our supported channels (Website, AMP, Facebook Instant Articles, Apple News, iOS, Android). Parse.ly prefers to use core metrics that can be measured across all channels and thus can be rolled up (even if with some caveats/limitations) across channels.
We also found that visits are simply confusing to our users (they can be measured quite differently depending on methodology), whereas “visitors” map better to a well-understood real-world concept like a browser, device, cookie ID, device ID, or person/user.
Visitors work better as a “context metric” with engaged time than visits do. We use visitors divided by total engaged time to calculate the average engaged time (per visitor) to given posts/pages, and this enables average engaged time.
Get better user insights with Parse.ly
At Parse.ly, we focus on offering 21st-century solutions to content creators with engagements as our primary metric. Successful digital marketing and content teams have shifted to a multi-channel approach to increase ROI and our real-time analytics platform is designed to use core metrics that can be measured across all channels.
Visits are an outdated and limiting metric because they can only be measured reliably in the Website channel. We’ve built an easy-to-use platform that collects better insights so that you can get better results.
If you’re looking for more meaningful ways to track your audience engagement, talk to us today.