Unique Visitors and Page Loads explained

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Car Guy

Super Moderator
It happens many times that you see a visitor that is moving through your site, maybe on your blog or forum, but when you check your Statcounter Summary it shows several unique visitors when you know it’s just one visitor. So how come your stats show more unique visitors than what you know to be true?

It’s all in the way that unique visitors are determined to be unique.

When your visitor loads a page, a cookie from a previous visit means a returning visit, and no cookie means a unique or first time visitor. In a perfect world all your visitors would accept cookies, but browser settings and security software and updates can refuse to accept cookies, so this leaves your visitor’s page loads all showing a unique visitor with each page.

Let’s look at a simple example.

Suppose you only had 2 visitors on a day, both loaded 10 pages each.

  • One visitor’s browser is accepting cookies so they are counted as 1 Unique Visitor with 10 page loads.
  • The other visitor’s browser is not accepting cookies, so each page load is counted as a Unique Visitor, each with 1 page load.

So your summary for that day would show 11 Unique Visitors, and 20 page loads total.

This is why you will have more Unique Visitors than actual.

You might want to see page loads grouped by a single IP, then look at Visitor Paths or Recent Visitor Activity. Note that some service providers assign a new IP to the same visitor, and AOL in particular will do this for each page load.

Be aware that both Visitor Paths and Recent Visitor Activity are displayed with the group with the latest, or newest page load at the top of the page.
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