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website promotion scam: using hits and visits in online marketing

Online scam artists commonly advertise the number of hits on their Web site to trick people into believing their website gets a lot of traffic and makes their company a lot of money. What most people don't realize is that a website's popularity is measured by the number of unique visitors, not the number of hits.

A hit is a single request made to a web server for an object on your website. The object can be an HTML file (i.e. a web page), a graphic image, or any other embedded object in your web pages, such as a sound file.

A visit to your website represents one unique viewer (or search engine) who has visited your site. For example, let's say you have an online catalog. One person visits your site and views one of your web pages. Your web page has 10 unique graphic images on it (a masthead, bullet points, some photos, etc.) and a sound file. Your total number of hits would be as follows:

Number of Unique Visitors

1

Number of HTML documents downloaded

1

Number of unique graphic images downloaded

10

Number of embedded files downloaded

1

Total Number of Hits

13


1 visitor viewing 1 web page = 13 hits

Using the above example, let's say that one person viewed 10 web pages on your website and each Web page contained different graphic images. Then the total number of hits would be as follows:

Number of Unique Visitors

1

Number of HTML documents downloaded

10

Number of unique graphic images downloaded

100

Number of embedded files downloaded

10

Total Number of Hits

121


1 visitor viewing 10 web pages = 121 hits

Another piece of information online marketers neglect to tell you is how the addition of a forward slash to your URL (i.e., web address) also counts a hit. Look at the place you enter a web address in your browser. Then look at the Web address you typed in. If you typed in companyname.com and the web browser redirected the Web address to the more correct companyname.com/, that additional forward slash also registers as a hit to that one web page.

Thus, when you hear a company advertise that their website receives "over 250,000 hits per month" but does not mention the number of unique visitors, you know to proceed with caution.

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