Total visitors is the number of visits to your site. It counts visits at different times by the same person as one visit. It therefore gives a higher number of visits than the unique visitor number. This number was often ignored by SEO experts since they were more interested in the number of unique visitors. They wanted to exclude multiple visits by the same person. However with the wide adoption of smart phones and tablets for browsing the web this number has become more relevant again.
Assessing total numbers is similar to assessing the unique numbers of visitors. You assess whether your numbers are low and if they are you investigate why they are low. I won’t repeat the explanation in the unique visitors section (you can read it here or alternatively look at time on site) however there are some aspects of the total visitors that are worth considering on their own.
Visits are a more accurate reflection of what is happening. Every time someone visits you’re site it’s recorded. So if they visit it using multiple devices this is all recorded. This is important because every visit is a chance to engage with a visitor. Regardless of whether someone visits your site once or four times it should all be viewed as an opportunity to engage with them. If you only look at the unique visits you tend to focus on the first time they visit rather than the second or third.
Visits don’t rely on cookies. The web is set up in a manner that means websites are reliant on a small file called a cookie to enable them to track visitors. However it is increasingly difficult to ensure that the cookie remains on the visitor’s computer. Visitors can easily delete cookies. Even if that’s only 5% of people it would mean that you would be missing 5 out of 100 people if you just looked at unique visitors.
In practise you need to look at both visits and unique visits to get an overall picture of how your site is performing. For example if you’re getting three times as many visits as unique visits you might deduce that people like the site and are returning to it for information. With these statistics the most important aspect is to think through what lies behind the statistic!