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Unique Website Visitors: Understanding Your Audience

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Unique Website Visitors: Understanding Your Audience

Read time 10 min read
Unique Website Visitors: Understanding Your Audience

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The success of any business, including online ventures, depends on the number of customers flocking to it. Thus, it is imperative that you fully understand who your website’s unique visitors are. You can then use that as a starting point to improve SEO.

As a statistic, unique site visitors give vital insights on a website’s value and marketing strategies to improve its traffic. For example, you can modify your site’s content to suit your audience. If you can check out the visitor’s age through a tool such as Google Analytics, you can better design the interface and select products to present on your site.

Given the importance of the website traffic unique visitors relationship, it is only fair that you fully understand it. Armed with adequate knowledge, you stand to increase the value of a website to your audience. Sounds good to you? Well, then. Here is everything you need to know about website unique visitors statistics.

Who Is A Unique Visitor?

A unique visitor is a distinct person who visits your website in a given period. Google defines a unique visitor as the number of unduplicated (counted only once) visitors to your website over the course of a specified time period. Usually, web traffic analysis tools give the number of visitors on a daily, weekly, and annual basis.

As much as the unique website visitor’s metric is important, it is not very useful on its own. You need to check on other statistics, such as the number of sessions per user. Additionally, related percentages such as bounce rates give more meaning to the number of unique visits.

Why is this so? The reasons lie in the methodology that web analytics use to determine what a unique visitors metric is. Since they use cookies, inherent problems associated with the cookie use feature in unique visits numbers. If a user uses different computers to view a site, every PC counts a different user. Thus, other metrics come in to help a website’s unique visits make more sense.

How Web Analytics Software Determines the Number of Unique Users

If you want to know the number of unique website visitors, all you have to do is use web analytics software. Besides checking the user counter, you can review data such as links clicked by visitors and what URLs sent them to your site.

However, it is important to know how the analytics software maintains the unique site visitor’s counter. After understanding the process, you will familiarize yourself with the drawbacks of the process. Afterward, you can decide the reliability score to place on the metrics.

Most web analytics software counts unique users using the following steps. Note that the methodology discussed skew towards Google Analytics, a prominent traffic analyzer.

The Software Collects Cookies

The first step of counting unique users is getting cookies from their browser. Whenever a browser navigates to a website for the first time, the web analytics software sets a cookie. Typically, the cookie is a string of numbers separated by periods. It looks something like:

GA1.2.887516345.1601837610

You can check the cookie associated with certain websites in your browser’s settings. So what does the string mean?

The first part, GA1, shows the version of the cookie. The second one indicates the components of a domain separated by the periods. As you can see, there are two numbers that the period alienates after the second field: 887516345.1601837610. The digit two preceding them shows that they are only two items after it.

The third and fourth fields represent the domain components. A regular top-level domain has two parts. For example, Google’s website is google.com.

The number 887516345 would represent “google” while digits 1601837610 would denote “com.” Of course, subdomain GA cookies have more fields. A cookie for a sub-domain like support.google.com would have a prefix GA1.3. A new string of numbers would come in to represent “support.” By default, the analytics software sets cookies on top-level domains.

The Software Analyzes the Cookie

The web analytics software perceives the GA cookie in a different way compared to browsers. Remember the fields mentioned a little earlier? The software takes an interest in the third and fourth fields. It labels them “random unique ID” and “first time stamp” respectively.

You will be interested

Cookies Get In the Server

The GA server takes the third and fourth fields and maintains them in a database. It is quite easy to extract them from your browser using small snippets of JavaScript code. The web analytics software combines the third and fourth fields and labels the fields “Client ID.” This value goes to the GA server.

Unique Website Visitors: Understanding Your Audience

(Code for tracking cookie, metrictheory.com)

The User Count Starts

So how does the software answer the question, “what is a unique visitor”?

Every time a person navigates to a website, the web analytics software checks the first time stamp. If it detects a new client ID, it labels that as a unique visitor. Should it identify an existing ID, that counts as a returning user. It keeps a counter and shows the totals to you in its interface.

How reliable is the process?

The approach used by web analytics software is quite dependable. For example, if a returning visitor creates a new session, the software will check the timestamp and know that they are returning users. However, it has some drawbacks, such as:

  • The GA cookie lives only if the user does not delete it. With increased online privacy concerns, it is normal for visitors to clear cookies after a session. Removing them deletes the GA cookie, such that if they visit again, the web analytics software creates a new client ID and counts them as a new unique visitor.
  • There exists a chance that a single visitor has more than one computer. Should they use separate PCs to navigate the same site, the software counts them as two unique web visitors. The same applies when one uses different browsers or browses in both normal and incognito mode.
  • Different users may use the same computer to browse. The web analytics software will assume there is a single unique visitor, while there can be many.

These downsides lower the value provided by the unique user metric. You can add the lost importance back to understanding your audience using some simple techniques.

Did you know? Google analytics allows you to view not only unique visitors, but also which device they are using, and which keyword they used in the search engine to find you.

How to Understand the Unique Website Visitors

The simplest way to gather insights on your monthly unique visitor’s website statistics is to study user behavior. Here are a few ways to do that.

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Use Click Mapping Software

Among the easiest ways to get into a unique user’s head is by checking on what they clicked. Regular web analytics shows you the links clicked, but a click mapping software displays everything a user clicked, including non-linked items. How is this helpful?

For starters, it allows you to know what items the unique visitor thought were a link. If you find that visitors clicked on non-linked images, they may have thought it would redirect to a product page or enlarge. Thus, it would be a good idea to modify the image to do just that.

Click mapping software also helps you know if visitors scrolled to the footer. That way, you can understand how interesting the visitors found your site. While at it, you can check which part of the website received the most clicks. You can then place more interesting content there or even add a call-to-action button.

Use Co-Browsing

If your small business can afford it, you can start using co-browsing. You would need an active customer support team to implement this technique. Customers will be sharing their screens with you, and you need a person present to guide them. This technique’s major advantage is that it helps you to understand what areas of your website that visitors have trouble using. You can then improve it through a redesign. Moreover, you get to see errors experienced by users in real-time, making the corrections very easy.

If you lack the resources to understand your audience in this manner, you can set up a live chat. Numerous plugins can help implement live chat systems. Afterward, you can analyze queries from visitors to understand where their interest lies.

Use Session-Recording Tools

As the word suggests, session recording tools keep a record of your visitor’s screen while they were on your site. You get to see mouse movements, scrolls, and keystrokes.

This technique allows you to understand how visitors are using your website. You will know the first link they clicked and what the exit page is. Additionally, you can explore the errors that pop up during a session and use that to improve your site.

Unique Website Visitors: Understanding Your Audience

(Session Recording Interface, mopinion.com)

Why Understanding Unique Website Visitors Helps SEO Campaigns

If you are thinking of ways to get unique visitors, the secret lies in understanding the ones you already have. Based on the techniques above, you can guess why knowing your online audience inside out and backward is so essential. Deeper knowledge about website unique visitors helps SEO campaigns because:

Unique Visitor Metric Shows If SEO Is Working

Do you have an SEO campaign to aid your digital marketing strategy? The best way to know if it is effective is checking the number of new users. If it spikes, keep doing what you are doing.

Stagnant or plummeting numbers mean that your campaign may not be as effective as it needs to be. Using insights such as data on exit pages, you know what part of the website turns your visitors off. Appropriate actions to improve SEO can then follow.

Understanding Unique Users Exposes User Expectations

Using one of the techniques discussed to know more about your visitors, you put yourself in the shoes of your website users. Such deep knowledge about your audience allows you to understand what customers need for your website to function.

The insights gathered influence which SEO strategies to put in action. For example, if you realize that users are having trouble finding content on your site, you can start using internal links.

Understanding Unique Users Exposes Website Errors

The techniques used to shed light on a unique visitor’s behavior show if users encountered errors when using your site. Neither web visitors nor owners want errors on their site. Remember, mistakes on the site can hamper SEO efforts. Thus, doing away with them may boost your website’s traffic.

Unique Website Visitors Help in A/B Testing

What if you have three of four landing pages, and you want to know which is the best one? The solution is directing different unique users to separate pages. The one with the highest performance is ultimately chosen. This method aids your SEO efforts as it tells you the page to focus them on.

Unique Website Visitors: Understanding Your Audience

(Example of an A/B test. Testing two forms side-by-side in order to determine which performs best, wordstream.com)

Did you know? Google analytics is the most popular program on the internet.

Other Metrics That Give meaning to the Number of Unique Website Visitors

Combining your metrics with some data provided by web analytics software can help add value to it. The other metrics you should check out are:

Bounce Rate

If a unique visitor navigates to your site, clicks on nothing, and leaves, that is a bounce. It translates to the inability of your website to interest the user. A high number of unique website visitors and high bounce rate shows that SEO might be working, but your site is not providing the necessary value. You can increase page loading speeds as well as relevant content.

Unique Website Visitors: Understanding Your Audience

(Bounce rate in Google Analytics, mangools.com)

Average Visits

If you are keen on finding out how many times a unique user came back to your site, this is the metric to check out. It is important because it shows the interest your website garnered with the new user. If the number is slow, try providing new content.

Value per Visit

If your website makes any money, you can divide it by the number of unique users and estimate how much each visit brings. This metric helps you understand how much to spend on SEO to bring in more new visitors.

Total Page Views

This informs you of the number of times visitors loaded a specific page. It is essential since it enables you to find out how loyal your visitors are. It also discloses what pages the audience care about the most.

There are more statistics to check out to enlighten you on whether a unique visit benefits your business. You can utilize the newfound data to know the value of a new visitor. On the same note, you can better estimate the budgets to allocate for SEO strategies aimed at increasing unique users.

After enough research, you can explore ways to increase the number of unique visits to a website. There exist two major ways to grow new traffic to a site. The first is non-paid and captures methods such as SEO. The other is online adverts.

The approach you use to get unique visitors in droves depends on your business’s nature and needs. An ideal digital marketing strategy combines both paid and organic sources of traffic. However, you may need a specialist to help you figure out the right proportion for advertisements and SEO.

Unique Website Visitors: Understanding Your Audience

(Different metrics present in Google Analytics, reliablesoft.net)

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The Case for Unique Visitors

The lifeline of any online business lies in its ability to attract unique users. After understanding where new users come from, components that interest them on your site, what turns them off, and how they expect your website to be, you can target them better. Ultimately, businesses that figure out the website traffic unique visitors connection stand out.

However, many additional metrics come into play when deciding what statistics like monthly unique visitors mean for your website. You might need professional SEO help when interpreting and adding value to the raw data. Regardless of how you decide to use the unique user metrics, it remains one of the few tools that can increase profitability when utilized the right way.

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FAQ’s

Unique visitors give site owner an idea of their site’s reach, and how it relates to their users. Furthermore, it gives potential advertisers the ability to see how the site performs.

The bounce rate is the percentage of visitors that exit the site quickly, without viewing some of the content on the page.

You can find your unique visitors and other statistics through Google Analytics.

A good amount of unique visitors monthly would be around 1,000 visitors monthly.

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Daniel Urmann

Author Bio:

Daniel Urmann is the co-founder of Diib.com. Over the past 17 years Daniel has helped thousands of business grow online through SEO, social media, and paid advertising. Today, Diib helps over 150,000 business globally grow online with their SaaS offerings. Daniel’s interest include SMB analytics, big data, predictive analytics, enterprise and SMB search engine optimization (SEO), CRO optimization, social media advertising, A/B testing, programatic and geo-targeting, PPC, and e-commerce. He holds a Master of Business Administration (MBA) focused in Finance and E-commerce from Cornell University – S.C. Johnson Graduate School of Management.

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