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Unique Visitors vs Total Pageviews: Understanding Metrics

by Louisa Claire on July 23, 2012

Social Media ROI and understanding blog metrics are hot topics – today I’m going to tell you the tale of two blogs in an attempt to explain why there’s more to understanding a blogger’s influence than numbers alone…

Before we get started let’s outline two key terms:

Total Pageviews: A pageview is the number of times a page on your blog is loaded within a certain timeframe.
Unique Visitors: This is number of individual visitors who come to your site in a certain timeframe.

For example, 1 person comes to your site and looks at 5 pages. The number of “pageviews” is 5 and the number of “visitors” is 1. Over the course of a month these figures are added together giving you an indication of both how many visitors/eyeballs your site has had and pages they have looked at.

Many advertising/marketing/PR agencies are primarily concerned with the “eyeballs” figure as this is the number that they can report back to their clients about how far reaching their campaign was. Often you will see blog advertising and sponsored post rates based on around this number because it is seen as the key indicator of a blogger’s reach (and influence). It’s reach that dominates when it comes to media and so this idea has carried over into blogger relations.

I (obviously) see things a bit differently and here’s why:

Meet Suzie, she’s a lovely lass who has been blogging for the last couple of years. Over that time she’s amassed a large number of monthly pageviews – around 40,000 in fact.

Now meet Brad, a lovely bloke and a mad keen blogger who writes every day. His blog is currently bringing in traffic of 90,000 pagviews a month. Impressive, yes?

If all you look at is one number, all you get is one perspective.

While Susie’s blog is bringing in 40,000 pageviews per month she gets ‘only’ 11,000 unique visitors to her site. Her analytics tell her that each visitor spends an average of 12minutes on her site.

Brad on the other hand has 90,000 pageviews per month but an impressive 78,000 uniques. His analytics tell him that each visitor spends about 2minutes on his site.

What does that mean exactly?

It means that both Brad and Suzie are reaching their audiences in very different ways.

Every time someone come’s to Suzie’s blog they visit, on average, 3.6 pages and spend over 12 minutes on the site. This means that Suzie’s readership are regular, loyal and heavily invested in what she is saying. This is not just great for Suzie, it’s also great for any businesses/brands that she chooses to partner with.

Brad’s blog is different; most people coming to his blog only look at the one page and don’t stay for very long. While Brad is reaching a lot more people than Suzie (78,000/month to Suzie’s 11,000/month) their level of connection to him as the author, and thus his influence over them probably isn’t as strong as Suzie’s is.

Brad’s blog is clearly reaching a lot of people regularly BUT Suzie is also reaching a steady number of people and the numbers would indicate that her readers have a high investment in her personally. Though she may not get as many eyeballs, the ones she does get are listening closely. To dismiss her, or even to think that her blog is “worth less” or “less influential” than Brad’s is to see things very one dimensionally. Some may say that her blog is even more influential than Brad’s because of the level of connection she has with her readers…

To think that reach is the most important way to work with a blogger is to misunderstand the power of blogging. It doesn’t make sense to look at in this way because blogging isn’t about eyeballs, but about the heart – knowing how many unique visitors come to a site is only one teeny, tiny part of a bloggers reach – their true value is in their community and as I’ve tried to show here, we can’t get an idea of what that is by one number alone. We need to view bloggers and blogging more holistically and develop ways that demonstrate both tangibly and intuitively the connection a blogger has with their readers.

Looking at only one metric, only gives you one part of the picture (though if I had to choose only one metric I would make it pageviews, not uniques… but that’s just me).


Agree or Disagree? What do you think is most important when it comes to blog metrics?