Unique Visitors – YOUR Questions Answered


Many thanks for all your responses to our recent post “Unique Visitors – Explained”. Today we’re going to try to answer your questions.

    QUESTION: Could we have the option to show “Unique Visitors” on the My Projects Summary page instead of “Page Views”?

    Of course! This option is already available. Please see here for more information.

    QUESTION: Please explain HOW you calculate Unique Visitors?
    When a visitor comes to your site for the first time, StatCounter drops a “cookie” into their browser. This cookie allows us to identify the visitor and track them as a Unique Visitor as they look at multiple pages on your site.

    Here’s how it works:


    QUESTION: What is a “cookie”?
    A “cookie” is a small text file that we use at StatCounter to determine whether a visitor has been to your site in the recent past.

    QUESTION: If a visitor visits my site 10 times within a day, is this recorded in the same way as if the visitor viewed it 10 times within a week?
    This depends on the Maximum Visit Length setting for the site/project. This setting is used to calculate Unique Visits. Changing this setting allows you to define the maximum time that can elapse between page visits, while still considering that the sequence of page visits together all form one Unique Visit. This concept is easier to understand by way of example, so let’s look at this a bit more closely…

    Let’s say the Max Visit Length is set to 30 minutes. Here’s how it works:

    The page views of “News Today”, “Story A” and “Story B” are all considered to be part of one Unique Visit by a Unique Visitor. This is because each page view takes place within 30 minutes of the previous one.

    The visit to “Story XYZ” is considered to be a separate Unique Visit by a Unique Visitor. This is because more than 30 minutes has elapsed since the previous page view on this site.

    QUESTION: What value do you recommend for Maximum Visit Length and why?

    We recommend setting it between 1 and 6 hours. We don’t recommend setting it to 24 hours and above. This is because an average visit to a website is likely to be a maximum of 1 to 6 hours. It is highly unlikely that a visitor will spend 24 hours on your website.

    Consider a news website “NEWS Today” – let’s say someone visits this website on Monday morning to read up on the headlines. Later that evening that same person visits “News Today” to read up on some breaking news. The morning and evening visits are separate and distinct visits at different times and for different purposes. These visits are therefore considered to be separate Unique Visits.

    QUESTION: What about visitors who disable cookies?

    Unfortunately, when a visitor has cookies disabled, we have no way of establishing if they are a Unique Visitor or not.

    Think of one Unique Visitor who visits 4 pages on your site during one single visit…

    If this visitor has cookies enabled, then we can correctly track their activity and StatCounter will recognise the visitor as a single Unique Visitor who visited 4 pages on your site during their visit.

    If this visitor has cookies disabled, then each of the 4 pageloads will be counted by StatCounter as a single one page visit by a Unique Visitor. Obviously, this is not strictly correct, but generally most visitors will have cookies enabled so this does give you a fairly accurate overview of your Unique Visitors.

    QUESTION: But I want to know exactly how many individual people have visited my website – how do I do this?

    Unfortunately there is NO foolproof way of calculating exactly how many individual people have visited a website. Each method has its limitations. For example:

    • Cookie Method – This method is the one used in the StatCounter Summary Stats. The Unique Visitor count can be distorted by cookies being disabled/destroyed.
    • IP Address Method – This method counts Unique Visitors based on their IP addresses. The Unique Visitor count can be unreliable due to the use of dynamic IP addresses i.e. the same person can make use of multiple IP addresses during a single visit to a site.
    • Log In Method – This method counts Unique Visitors based on people accessing a site via a username and password. The Unique Visitor count can be misrepresented by people have multiple log ins for a site or by sharing log in information.

    QUESTION: How far back are “Unique Visitors” kept for? Is it anyone who’s ever visited my site, ever, or just the people responsible for my last 500 pageviews (or whatever my quota is)?

    Every StatCounter project offers LIFETIME summary stats. That means that you can access ALL details of ALL Page Loads/Unique Visitors/Returning Visitors right from when you started tracking with StatCounter up to the present day.

    QUESTION: Does StatCounter use IP addresses to calculate Unique Visitors?
    StatCounter uses cookies to calculate Unique Visitors in the Summary Stats. We use IP addresses for visitor identification purposes in other parts of the system. (We plan to post about this when we explain other terms and stats in the future.)

Sincere thanks to Car Guy for his invaluable assistance in compiling this post. 😉

Please do comment below if anything above is unclear or if you have any further questions. Please also let us know about any errors, omissions or typos… although we try our best, sometimes mistakes do slip through so – if you spot a problem – please post a message to help us put things right ASAP. Thanks to Tom and Peter for their help with an error in our previous post!


  1. Is there any way to see where people are clicking? For example, which articles are getting read the most and how people navigate through the site?

  2. Thanks for the guide above, but I still am not sure about visit length if a visitor goes to only one page on my website. I believe I read that in that situation the visit length is unmeasurable and is therefore indicated as less than 5 seconds. I would appreciate a tutorial on this point.

  3. What are the usual standards that websites follow for Unique Visitor time lengths ? I have mine set to 30 minutes. Is that a decent standard or should it be more like 24 hours ?

  4. The Ips should be permanently stored to see the number of first time visitors. I would guess this cannot be done due to dynamic ips and bandwidth. So I guess the login is the best method. Remember to require email verification and have a captcha! 🙂

  5. Thank you for this very helpful contribution, I would like to deal in future substantially more with Statcounter.

  6. Detailed overview you gave there – like it!

    Still <3’ing Statcounter! Just wish wordpress.com would properly integrate it so we could use the full java enabled version.

  7. From what I see, the majority of Internet users have cookies ON. This is because cookies are used extensively for many applications such as online games, Web 2.0 logins and etc. Therefore, the issue concerning visitors who have cookies off should be a minor one.

  8. thank you for the clarification, unique visitors is a better gauge than visitors in my opinion

  9. Hi Deborah

    Us e the blocking cookie, or IP blocking option in the Edit Settings for your project.

  10. Is there some way to adjust the settings so that my visits to the page aren’t counted?

  11. Hi Nita

    To change the setting for Maximum Visit Length, click the little wrench to the right of your project, then click Edit Settings. You can change the Maximum Visit Length there and save.

  12. Just to quick note to say thanks!!
    I have been using Statcounter for about 5 years now, but only recently upgraded to paid package. I’m so so happy with the service, big thanks to Aodhan and co.

  13. For our free ads site stat counter is perfect, for a quick glance at the number of visitors and now more data on unique visitors its great for checking daily statistics. Keep up the great work.

  14. Really handy post. It should help me in the future when using Statcounter.

  15. This really is not a big deal and I am not so anal as to be bothered by it, but since you asked for corrections of typos, here goes: it says “QUESTION: How far back are “Unique Visitors” kept for? It is anyone who’s ever visited my site, ever, or just the people responsible for my last 500 pageviews (or whatever my quota is)?” It should say “is it” not “it is”.
    No biggie, but I guess you want to know.

    StatCounter Team Response:

    Thanks! Fixed!

  16. yeah. i got it and thanks for the continued patronage. i hope this service will be forever free. keep on being kind.

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