Unique Visitors - YOUR Questions Answered
				November 30th, 2009 

				
					Folks, 
Many thanks for all your responses to our recent post “Unique
Visitors – Explained”. Today we’re going to try to answer your
questions.


QUESTION: Could we have the option to show “Unique Visitors” on
the My Projects Summary page instead of “Page Views”?
Of course! This option is already available. Please see here for more
information.
QUESTION: Please explain HOW you calculate Unique Visitors?
When a visitor comes to your site for the first time, StatCounter
drops a “cookie” into their browser. This cookie allows us to
identify the visitor and track them as a Unique Visitor as they look
at multiple pages on your site. 
Here’s how it works:

QUESTION: What is a “cookie”?
A “cookie” is a small text file that we use at StatCounter
to determine whether a visitor has been to your site in the recent
past.
QUESTION: If a visitor visits my site 10 times within a day, is this
recorded in the same way as if the visitor viewed it 10 times within a
week? 
This depends on the Maximum Visit Length setting for the site/project.
This setting is used to calculate Unique Visits.  Changing this
setting allows you to define the maximum time that can elapse between
page visits, while still considering that the sequence of page visits
together all form one Unique Visit. This concept is easier to
understand by way of example, so let’s look at this a bit more
closely…
Let’s say the Max Visit Length is set to 30 minutes.
Here’s how it works:

The page views of “News Today”, “Story A” and
“Story B” are all considered to be part of one Unique
Visit by a Unique Visitor. This is because each page view takes place
within 30 minutes of the previous one. 
The visit to “Story XYZ” is considered to be a separate
Unique Visit by a Unique Visitor. This is because more than 30 minutes
has elapsed since the previous page view on this site.

QUESTION: What value do you recommend for Maximum Visit Length and
why?
We recommend setting it between 1 and 6 hours. We don’t recommend
setting it to 24 hours and above. This is because an average visit to
a website is likely to be a maximum of 1 to 6 hours. It is highly
unlikely that a visitor will spend 24 hours on your website. 
Consider a news website “NEWS Today” - let’s say
someone visits this website on Monday morning to read up on the
headlines. Later that evening that same person visits “News
Today” to read up on some breaking news. The morning and evening
visits are separate and distinct visits  at different times and for
different purposes. These visits are therefore considered to be
separate Unique Visits.

QUESTION: What about visitors who disable cookies?
Unfortunately, when a visitor has cookies disabled, we have no way of
establishing if they are a Unique Visitor or not. 
Think of one Unique Visitor who visits 4 pages on your site during one
single visit…
If this visitor has cookies enabled, then we can correctly track their
activity and StatCounter will recognise the visitor as a single Unique
Visitor who visited 4 pages on your site during their visit.
If this visitor has cookies disabled, then each of the 4 pageloads
will be counted by StatCounter as a single one page visit by a Unique
Visitor. Obviously, this is not strictly correct, but generally most
visitors will have cookies enabled so this does give you a fairly
accurate overview of your Unique Visitors.
QUESTION: But I want to know exactly how many individual people have
visited my website - how do I do this?
Unfortunately there is NO foolproof way of calculating exactly how
many individual people have visited a website. Each method has its
limitations. For example:

Cookie Method - This method is the one used in the StatCounter Summary
Stats. The Unique Visitor count can be distorted by cookies being
disabled/destroyed.
IP Address Method - This method counts Unique Visitors based on their
IP addresses. The Unique Visitor count can be unreliable due to the
use of dynamic IP addresses i.e. the same person can make use of
multiple IP addresses during a single visit to a site.

Log In Method - This method counts Unique Visitors based on people
accessing a site via a username and password. The Unique Visitor count
can be misrepresented by people have multiple log ins for a site or by
sharing log in information.

QUESTION: How far back are “Unique Visitors” kept for? It
is anyone who’s ever visited my site, ever, or just the people
responsible for my last 500 pageviews (or whatever my quota is)?

Every StatCounter project offers LIFETIME summary stats. That means
that you can access ALL details of ALL Page Loads/Unique
Visitors/Returning Visitors right from when you started tracking with
StatCounter up to the present day.
QUESTION: Does StatCounter use IP addresses to calculate Unique
Visitors?
StatCounter uses cookies to calculate Unique Visitors in the Summary
Stats. We use IP addresses for visitor identification purposes in
other parts of the system. (We plan to post about this when we explain
other terms and stats in the future.)

Sincere thanks to Car Guy for his invaluable assistance in compiling
this post.  
Please do comment below if anything above is unclear or if you have
any further questions. Please also let us know about any errors,
omissions or typos… although we try our best, sometimes mistakes
do slip through so - if you spot a problem - please post a message to
help us put things right ASAP. Thanks to Tom and Peter for their help
with an error in our previous post!
				

				Posted in News |   32 Comments »
			

		
			
				Unique Visitors - Explained
				October 31st, 2009 

				
					On the support desk at StatCounter, we receive a lot of queries
about Unique Visitors. This concept can be a little difficult to
understand, particularly if you are new to web stats, so we’re
going to try explain it here in very simple terms. 
What is a Unique Visitor?
A Unique Visitor is a separate/individual/distinct visitor.
Each Unique Visitor to your site will be EITHER a first time OR a
returning visitor. 
How are Unique Visitors and Pageloads related?
Firstly let’s be clear on what we mean by a pageload. A pageload
is a “hit” or “page view” on a site. 
When one page of your site is loaded into a browser, one pageload is
generated. Clicking the refresh button generates another pageload.
Visiting another page on the site will generate a further pageload. 
All the pageloads on your site are generated by your Unique Visitors. 
Let’s imagine you have 10 pageloads on your site. This could be
the result of:

>> 10 Unique Visitors - each one visited your site once 

>> OR  1 Unique Visitor  - who visited your site 10 times 

>> OR  5 Unique Visitors - each one visited your site twice 



Can you explain Unique Visitors in the Summary Stats?
Let’s look at the Summary Stats below. 
On Wednesday, there were 21 pageloads. This means there were 21 hits
on the site. In other words, pages on the site were loaded in browsers
21 times. 
These 21 pageloads were generated by 5 Unique Visitors. This means 5
distinct/separate individuals e.g. Mark, Paul, Tom, Joe and Simon. 
Of the 5 Unique Visitors who viewed the site, three of them are
Returning Visitors. This means that three of the five visitors have
visited the site before and returned to view it again. The remaining
two Unique Visitors are therefore First Time Visitors.

How are Unique Visitors in the Summary Stats calculated?
In the Summary Stats, Unique Visitors are calculated by the use of a
“cookie”. A “cookie” is a small text file that
we use at StatCounter to determine whether a visitor has been to your
site in the recent past.
When a visitor first looks at a page on your site, a StatCounter
cookie is placed in their browser (if allowed). Then, as the visitor
browses your site, the cookie tells us that this is NOT a
new/distinct/separate visitor visiting your site. Instead, it’s
the same visitor looking at several different pages.
You should note that it IS possible for a visitor to disable all
cookies in their browser.
When a visitor has cookies disabled, cookies cannot be used to
determine whether the they are a Unique Visitor or not. If a visitor
has cookies disabled, then each page of your site that he views will
be considered to be a pageload by a Unique Visitor. Obviously, this is
not strictly correct, so the Unique Visitor count is an imperfect
measure. It does, however, give you a reasonably accurate overview of
your Unique Visitors.
We hope this post is helpful - if anyone has any further queries or
comments, please post below! Thanks!  
				

				Posted in News |   100 Comments »
			

		
			
				General News
				September 30th, 2009 

				
					Hi folks, 
Here is a summary of some of the latest news from StatCounter. 
Ads – New Networks 
Advertising revenue allows us to fund our free service. Increasing our
ad revenue allows us to invest in improving the service we offer. 
With this in mind, we have been running some new ad networks on
StatCounter lately.
Further to last month’s blog post, we’d like to take this
opportunity to remind you that we strive to ensure that only high
quality advertising is shown on our site. However, as different
adverts are shown on StatCounter in different parts of the world, here
in StatCounter HQ we don’t actually see every advert shown to our
members. 
We are committed to providing the best service we can to our members
so, if you see an inappropriate/intrusive/offensive advert, PLEASE let
us know about it. With your help, we can ensure a better experience
for all our members. We require the following information to identify
and remove any nuisance ads:

Ad position - top or side
URL where ad is being seen
Geo location where ad was seen

Click url of ad

If possible please also take a screenshot of the ad. Although our
support system does not allow attachments for security reasons, we
will contact you directly to retrieve the image from you. 
SC4  Update
We know, we know… SC4 has been a long time coming but it IS
coming! 
When we began the beta phase of SC4, we asked for volunteers to test
the service. When testing proved successful and various bugs were
ironed out, we were faced with a dilemma… we had our new
platform available and we had two options:

We could keep the new system under wraps until we were ready to
convert all the existing StatCounter projects to SC4 OR

We could set all NEW projects created to SC4 immediately thus allowing
new and existing members to benefit from the new features while we
continued to work on the conversion

We chose to implement option 2 above. Although this means that we have
been running two platforms side by side for over a year now, we do
believe that this was the correct course of action to take as it
allowed as many people as possible to gain the benefits of the new
system.
Significant investments have been made in server technology and in
strengthening our team and we are working flat out to make this new
platform available to everyone.
Rather than risk problems or outages we have just had to take our time
on this. Conversion to our new platform has taken much longer than we
anticipated and for this we offer you our sincere apologies. We cannot
wait to convert all projects to SC4 and we are so grateful to you for
your patience as we continue work to achieve this. 
PR Award

Earlier this year we launched StatCounter Global Stats – this free
service provides market share stats for browsers, operating systems
and search engines (including mobile). Within 2 weeks of launch, we
were thrilled to achieve over 100,000 hits from over 100 countries. 
Instrumental to the launch were the advice and assistance of our PR
agent, Simpson FT PR. For this reason, we were delighted to hear that
Ronnie Simpson and his team won the 2009 New Media PR Excellence Award
for their work on the campaign. Well done all!
				

				Posted in Awards,  News,  SC4 |   40 Comments »
			

		
			
				Attack of Nasty Ads!
				August 24th, 2009 

				
					Folks,
As different adverts are shown on StatCounter in different parts of
the world, here in StatCounter HQ, we don’t actually get to see
every single advert shown to our members… and although we try
hard to screen all ads BEFORE they are are shown on StatCounter, some
nasty ads do slip through the net
In the last 24 hours we have heard reports that some nasty
auto-expanding ads have been shown on StatCounter. We do apologise for
this. We are investigating this with a view to removing all offending
adverts ASAP and thanks are due to StatCounter members Gordon and Tony
for their quick action in alerting us to this issue. 
While we rely on our advertising revenue to fund our free service, we
only want the nicest, best behaved ads on our site. Thanks for your
patience as we work to fix this issue.
UPDATE: 
We believe we have traced and removed the source of the offending ads.
Please post here if you continue to see any nasty ads and give us the
following information:
•	Ad position - top or side
•	url where ad is being seen
•	screenshot of ad
•	geo location where ad was seen
•	Click url of ad
Please also take a screenshot of the ad and we will contact you
directly to retrieve the image from you. Many thanks!
				

				Posted in News |   123 Comments »
			

		
			
				StatCounter User Types
				July 29th, 2009 

				
					Hi folks,

Did you know that you can set up different users in your StatCounter
account?
In fact, if you want to allow other people to access your StatCounter
account, we strongly recommend that you do this.
Using our User Access Management feature you can also set up different
levels of access for each user. 

How do I add a user to my StatCounter account?

Log in to your StatCounter account and click “Users” in
the top navigation bar.




Click “Add New User”.
Complete the “Account Details” and “Personal
Details”.
In the “User Access Rights” section, assign the chosen
user type.
In the “Project Access” section, select which projects you
want your new user to access.





At the end of the page, click “Add New User” and
you’re done!

What are the different User Types?

Admin (full access to ALL projects)	
This gives the user FULL access to ALL projects in your account -
including adding and deleting other users and projects.
Web Designer
This gives the user limited access only to projects you allow. Web
Designer Users can view stats and configure the tracking and
installation code.
Billing	
This gives the user limited access only to projects you allow. Billing
Users can view stats, view and pay invoices and upgrade and downgrade
your account.

Stats Viewer	
This gives the user limited access only to projects you allow. It
gives the user the ability to view the stats for each project you
allow.
Restricted Stats Viewer
This gives the user limited access only to projects you allow. It
gives the user the ability to view only the Summary Stats for each
project you allow.

How do I change the User Access to a project?
To change the User Access to a project, go to the My Projects page in
your StatCounter account. Click the lock icon lock beside your project
name. Check the box beside the users you want to have access to this
project. Finally, click Update Project Access.

How do I change the settings for a User?
To change the settings for a User, click Users in the top navigation
bar. Click the “Pencil and Paper” icon beside the chosen
username to edit the User. 
WARNING
Please be extremely careful in allowing third parties to have Admin
Access to your StatCounter account. Your account may be compromised if
you allow a third party to have Admin Access to your account.
				

				Posted in Features |   53 Comments »
			

		
			
				NEW: Restricted Public Stats
				June 19th, 2009 

				
					With StatCounter you have always had the option to make your
StatCounter stats public. This feature allows you to provide visitors
to your site with a link to view all your StatCounter stats. 
Further to many requests we have now implemented Restricted Public
Stats. This option allows you to provide visitors to your site with a
link to view only the “Summary Stats” page of your
StatCounter stats.

To enable/disable public stats:

Log in to your StatCounter account.

Click the ‘lock’ icon beside your project name.




Click your preferred option


Public Stats are Disabled
Only Summary Stats Are Public
All Stats Are Public

If you are making your stats public, note the URL to use to send
visitors to your StatCounter account e.g.
http://my.statcounter.com…project_id=xxxxxx&guest=1

Click ‘Upgrade Project Access’ and that’s it!

				

				Posted in Features |   78 Comments »
			

		
			
				Bing Overtakes Yahoo!
				June 5th, 2009 

				
					Microsoft’s Bing overtook Yahoo! as the number two search
engine in the United States and worldwide on Thursday (4th June)
according to our StatCounter Global Stats data.  Bing grabbed market
share from Google.

“It remains to be seen if Bing falls away after the initial novelty
and promotion but at first sight it looks like Microsoft is on to a
winner,” commented Aodhan Cullen, CEO, StatCounter. “Steve Ballmer
is quoted as saying that he wanted Microsoft to become the second
biggest search engine within five years. Following the breakdown in
talks to acquire Yahoo! at a cost of $40bn it looks as if he may have
just achieved that with Bing much sooner and a lot cheaper than
anticipated.”
Our analysis finds that in the US Bing leapfrogged Yahoo to take
second place on 16.28%. Yahoo! has 10.22%. Google still commands the
US search engine market with 71.47%. 
Globally Bing at 5.62% has taken a narrow lead over Yahoo! (5.13%).
Google worldwide retains 87.62% of the market. 
StatCounter Global Stats, a free online service which captures market
share battles of search engines, browsers and operating systems
including mobile, was launched in March this year.
The StatCounter Global Stats research data is based on four billion
pageloads per month. Other regional and country breakdowns can be
viewed at: http://gs.statcounter.com
Full press release available here. 
UPDATE 11 June 2009:
While Bing has fallen back to third place behind Google and Yahoo! it
is winning market share for Microsoft against its two main rivals in
the US and worldwide according to our latest analysis.
We analyzed search engine market share two weeks before and after the
formal launch of Bing on May 28th (14th May to the 27th May and the
28th May to 10th June). For the US market it found:
Google decreased from 78.68% to 77.94% (-0.74%)
Yahoo decreased from 11.46% to 10.76% (-0.7%)
Microsoft (Bing, MSN Search and Live Search) increased from 7.4% to 9%
(+1.6%)
(See here and here) 
“It is too early to say what the long term result will be but
this is a creditable performance by Bing,” commented Aodhan
Cullen, CEO StatCounter. “It remains to be seen what happens to
Bing after user curiosity and the reported $100m advertising budget
runs out.”
Worldwide, comparing the two weeks before and after the Bing launch,
StatCounter reports a similar trend with Microsoft taking market
share.
Google decreased from 89.81% to 89.69% (-0.12%)
Yahoo decreased from 5.34% to 5.1% (-0.24%)
Microsoft (Bing, MSN Search and Live Search) increased from 3.08% to
3.5% (+0.42%)
(See here and here)
Full press release available here.
				

				Posted in Global Stats |   168 Comments »
			

		
			
				NEW: Display Uniques on My Projects Page
				May 22nd, 2009 

				
					Hi folks,
You can now change your “My Projects” page to display
Unique Visitors instead of Page Views. To make the change:


Log in to your StatCounter account

Click the ‘My Profile’ link in the top navigation bar


Click the ‘Edit Profile’ button
For ‘My Projects Display Metric’ choose Unique Visitors

Enter your password

Finally click ‘Update My Profile’

We’re delighted to provide you with this new option and many
thanks to the various StatCounter members who requested this. Please
keep your feedback and ideas coming! 
				

				Posted in Features |   57 Comments »
			

		
			
				Popular Pages - New Filter
				April 30th, 2009 

				
					Hi Folks!
New Filter
We’ve added a NEW filter to the Popular Pages stat. 
What does this New Filter do?
This new filter helps you to identify your converting keywords. 
Your “converting keywords” are the keywords that result in
visitors to your site:

making a purchase
signing up for a service
downloading a brochure
or completing any other desired action on your site

How does this help me?
Information about your converting keywords is incredibly valuable. 
If you can identify the exact search terms that actually result in
sales (or sign-ups, or downloads, etc) on your site, then you can
focus your advertising and SEO efforts on these terms. This should
allow you to maximize your revenues and minimise your spend on
marketing. 
Can I see an example?
Sure! Let’s use this fictional site “Bites Bakery”
to explain how this works…
Bites Bakery
Bites Bakery has a website which allows its customers to order cakes
and other baked goods online. For Bites Bakery, a conversion (or
success) is the placement of an order online.

Keyword Analysis
With StatCounter your “Keyword Analysis” gives you a list
of the ACTUAL search terms used to find your site. For Bites Bakery,
you can see that people searched for :   

bites bakery
chocolate cake
cherry pie recipe etc
From the above, we know the search terms that are bringing visitors to
Bites Bakery… but which of these search terms result in actual
orders being placed? To find this out, we need to look at the Popular
Pages stat…

Popular Pages
If we look at the Popular Pages for Bites Bakery, we can see that:

257 people visited the homepage
31 people added a product to their baskets
6 people tried to checkout

But only 4 people successfully completed the order process and visited
the order-confirmation.php page - it’s these “converting
keywords” that we are really interested in.
(Don’t forget! It’s the “converting keywords”
that result in a sale/sign-up/download on your site!)

We want to find out which keywords result in people confirming an
order. To do this, we drilldown on the page
www.bitesbakery.com/order-confirmation.php and apply the Keyword
Analysis filter.

Popular Pages - Drilldown Arrow
First step is to click the “drilldown” arrow beside the
webpage you are interested in. For Bites Bakery, we are interested in
people who made an order online - that is, the people who reached the
Order Confirmation page.

Popular Pages - Apply Filter
Next step is to apply the “Keyword Analysis” filter -
click the link.

Popular Pages - Filtered by Keyword Analysis
Now, we see a list of the keywords used by the visitors who reached
the Order Confirmation page. With this information we can see that:

Although 40 people found the Bites Bakery Site by searching for
“chocolate cake” (see Keyword Analysis), only 1 of these
people “converted” and placed an order online (see Popular
Pages filtered by Keyword Analysis). That means for the search term
“chocolate cake” we had 1 order from 40 searches => 2.5%
conversion rate
On the other hand, while only 9 people found the site by searching for
“dark chocolate cake” (see Keyword Analysis), 1 of these
people “converted (see Popular Pages filtered by Keyword
Analysis). That’s 1 order from 9 searches => 11% conversion rate
From the above it’s clear that we are getting a far better
return on the search term “dark chocolate cake” than for
“chocolate cake” - this information is useful in deciding
where to direct our SEO efforts and marketing spend. 
Summary
Use the “Keyword Analysis” filter on “Popular
Pages” to identify the search terms that send visitors to a
particular page on your site.

Note re New StatCounter SC4 System
As a result of the delays we have experienced converting all members
to the new StatCounter platform, we have made this new filter
available on BOTH the old StatCounter SC3 system as well as on the new
SC4 system. Our tech team continue to work on the conversion project -
we are terribly anxious to get the conversion done as this will allow
us to release many new features and improvements. Thanks so much for
your patience and enjoy the new filter!
				

				Posted in Features |   87 Comments »
			

		
			
				FF3 Gains Ground on IE
				March 4th, 2009 

				
					Mozilla Firefox 3 overtook Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 6
for the first time in February in the Internet Browser Wars according
to monthly data from StatCounter Global Stats - our new free analysis
tool. 
Internet Explorer 7 continues to lead globally with 41% market share.
However, Firefox 3 is now in second place with 24% replacing IE 6.

Click here to view full size graph.
“Since its launch less than a year ago, Firefox 3 has attained
nearly one quarter of the global market,” commented Aodhan
Cullen, CEO and founder, StatCounter. “IE 7 is consistently
holding about 40% of the global market but IE 6 has fallen from 28% in
July last to 22% in February this year.”** 
The growth in usage of Firefox 3 can be partly attributed to users
upgrading to the new version - Firefox 2 market share has fallen from
16% to 3% in the period.
Microsoft’s combined IE 7 and IE 6 market share has fallen from
68% in July last year to 63% now. IE 8 has gained a toehold in the
market of just over 1%. Firefox 3 and 2 has grown from 25% in July
last to 27% in February 2009.
** Source: Figures based on monthly StatCounter Global Stats analysis.
				

				Posted in Global Stats |   71 Comments »
			

		
		
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