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Unique Visitors versus IP Hosts

April 24th, 2008

Let’s break into a better understanding of these two similar yet importantly different metrics:
Unique Visitors & IP Hosts.

In a general sense, a unique visitor is an actual person sitting at their computer reading your site.  This metric counts the number of these people for the entire day.  If any one person visits more than once during the day, this person is only consider one (1) unique visitor.  This is obviously used to determine how many real people have visited your site during the day and it doesn’t duplicate because of return visits.

The “IP Host” while similar to “Unique Visitors”, will only use the IP address details of the host computer/network.  Since multiple people can share the same computer or network, this metric will lump them into one single “IP Host”.  Why is this metric important?  Think about two things: first – diversity of traffic, how widespread is your audience regardless of whether they are in the same city, are these people closely connected or work at the same office?  The IP Hosts feature helps when comparing traffic data for reach and validity.  Secondly – because of the nature of this data, IP Hosts are critically important for helping to prevent false/fake traffic from skewing the real results.

Overall:
-IP Hosts is best used a a check to ensure that your traffic is relatively healthy.
-Unique Visitors gives you the best measure of your site’s audience size.

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