You may have noticed in Siteimprove’s Analytics module that when comparing overall visits with traffic sources (direct traffic, external referrers and search engines) that the totals appear to be different.
This article explains the difference in metrics of overall visits and traffic sources in Analytics.
A visit starts whenever someone enters your website and does not end until the visitor has been either inactive for 30+ minutes, has closed the browser or deleted their cookies while browsing your website.
Here's an example:
A user visits your website via a search engine, which will be registered in the Analytics service as:
- 1 visit from a search engine (in traffic sources).
- 1 visit that is logged into the visits section in the Analytics Overview.
Let's say your user is inactive for 30+ minutes on the site by keeping the page open in her tab, but does not interact with your site. The user then returns to the tab after 30+ minutes and begins interacting with your page by clicking a link to another page on your website. When a user has been inactive, then resumes activity after 30 minutes, a new visit begins, but now the visit would be an internal referrer and would not be listed in the traffic sources section. Internal traffic is not logged as a traffic source in our tool as the traffic sources in the Analytics tool, which only shows visits from somewhere outside of your website.
We can see in the following example that the total number of visits from traffic sources (external referrers, direct traffic, and search engines) counts to 93,137 visits. For the same period, overall visits are higher - totaling 100,591 visits.