When you run a website, keeping track of how many people visit your site, how they get there, and what they do during their visit – that stuff is important. Understanding your audience makes you money.
“Analytics” is the fancy term used to describe keeping track of these things. WordPress analytics work differently than non-Wordpress analytics.
What The Heck is A WordPress Visitor?
“Visitors” are a way for your ho/best-website-hosting-for-wordpress/st to keep track of how many server resources your website is using. Keeping track of resource use is one of the ways hosts figure out how much to charge you.
When you run a non-Wordpress site that lives on a non-Wordpress host, the hosting company you use will tell you how much data you’re allowed to transfer per month. The company keeps track of how many Gigabytes you move back and forth. If you go over the amount your hosting plan allows, you’ll have to pay more money.
Dedicated WordPress hosts like Kinsta, WPEngine, and Flywheel do not measure traffic this way. Instead, WordPress analytics rely on tracking “visitors” to your site, rather than tracking Gigabytes of data transfer. Your WordPress hosting plan will include a certain number of allowed “visitors” or “visits” per month.
What Counts As A Visitor?
The answer is complicated, and depends on which WordPress host you use.
Here’s one example that’s easy to understand – Let’s say that Julie visits your site at 8am on her iPad, from home. That’s a visitor. If Julie comes back at 10am (on her iPad, from home) that’s not a visitor. The system remembers Julie for 24 hours and won’t count her again until the 24 hour clock expires. The system also remembers Julie’s IP address. So, if Julie makes her 10am visit on her phone (from home) instead of her iPad, the system will not count her again.
It gets more complicated from here.
Let’s say that Julie drives to work at 11am (Nice job Jules, are you hiring?). If she comes back to your website at noon from her work computer, that’s a visitor. Even though it’s still Julie.
All WordPress hosts will track Julie the way I’ve just described. Where they differ is in how they track things like search engine bots (sometimes they count, sometimes they don’t), and how they’d handle it if Julie came back on her iPad, from work – some hosts wouldn’t count it because there’s a cookie on her iPad, some hosts would count it because it’s a new IP address.
How Do I Track My WordPress Visitors?
Even though they track “visitors” instead of Gigabytes, WordPress analytics are still pretty easy for software to track. Your WordPress host will certainly keep track of your visitors. You could also install a WordPress traffic plugin. WordPress visitor tracking is a standard part of Google Analytics.
Be aware that the numbers your visitor tracking spits out will probably differ from what your host says. That’s because your host tracks them differently than plugins or Google. Your host’s numbers are the ones you need to watch for billing purposes.
What If I Have Too Many Visitors?
If you have more visitors than your plan allows, you’ll have to pay some extra money.
Not a lot, but some.
If it happens consistently, your host will probably force you to upgrade to a larger plan that includes more visitors.
Be aware that unexpected things can count as visitors – like someone linking to an image on your site so that it displays on their site (“hotlinking”). If one of your images is “hotlinked” by a busy site, your host will count every visitor to that other site as a visitor to your site, since the image is loading from your server. To avoid this, you can use a CDN.
This article is part of our Smarter in 60 Seconds series. Articles from the Smarter in 60 Seconds series are designed to quickly give you an overview of a topic. They link to more in depth discussion and resources so you can explore further.