The first request counts as a visit. Subsequent requests from the same individual do not count as visits unless they occur after a specified timeout period (usually set at 30 minutes).
The purpose of tracking unique visitors to help marketers understand website traffic and user behavior. A visit can consist of a single page pageview or multiple pageviews, and one individual can make multiple visits to a website.
The exact specification of what constitutes a visit requires an accepted standard for a timeout period, which is defined as the number of minutes of inactivity from the time of entering the page to the time of requesting a new page.
Page views and visits are related. A visit consists of a series of page views grouped together in a single session (so the number of page views will exceed the number of visits).
It is possible to dig even deeper and track the paths visitors take within a visit. This path is called the clickstream and refers to the sequence of clicked links while visiting multiple sites. Tracking at this level can help a firm identify its most and least appealing pages, as well as the path a customer is likely to take prior to purchase.
- ^ Farris, Paul W.; Neil T. Bendle; Phillip E. Pfeifer; and David J. Reibstein (2010). Marketing Metrics: The Definitive Guide to Measuring Marketing Performance (Second Edition). Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Education, Inc.