Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Hit This!

So I was watching this weeks episode of House last night which was about a blogger that House and team must figure out what's wrong with before she dies...imagine that. Anyway, being the attention hog that she was she had to blog about everything in her life, even serious medical decisions, which her significant other was pretty upset about. His come back was something like you care more about the number of hits you get than talking to me about this.

I've been in web analytics for about 4 years and I've never, ever, used hits to track anything. In fact, hits is such an archaic term that an acronym has been cunningly devised for it... H.I.T.S. - How Idiots Track Success.

For those of you that don't know exactly what a hit is let me explain it. A hit is basically a request sent for something on a web page. Just to show how completely worthless this would be in tracking website success look at a site like Tiger Direct, see all those pictures of products? Each one of those counts as a hit. The Free Shipping offer at the top of the page, that's a hit. 48 Hour Component Clearance on the right side....yep, that's a hit. In all this page has several dozen items that would constitue a hit and that's just one page. If you were tracking 50 hits per page on a site that gets several thousand or hundred thousand visitors per day then you can quickly see how out of hand hits can become as a metric and how worthless it truly is.

It cracks me up that the original vernacular has reached a level of public consumption as to be used in a prime time TV show but that web analytics hasn't been popular enough for people to keep up with the current ways of tracking website success. It's actually kind of ironic given the proliferation of people with blogs and personal sites provided by their ISP or Google.

I guess the question is (and I'll leave this open ended) why don't more people know that tracking unique visitors would be a more accurate way of tracking website success and why don't they know how completely worthless Hits really is? Is it a failure of web analyst for not correcting people enough or getting the word out or is it just the slow adoption of web analytics in general? With the launch of Google analytics I would think that there would be enough tech junkies out there that would employ it and start spreading the word, but obviously not. Would love to get your feedback on this, write a comment.

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