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Why is the sum of daily Returning visitors not the same as the total for the month?

Sean Needham avatar


Siteimprove Analytics shows figures for Visits, Page views, Unique visitors, and Returning visitors. A definition of these terms can be found in -  What do the different metrics (visits, page views, unique visitors, etc.) mean in Analytics? This article explains a commonly asked question on why the sum of daily Returning visitors is not the same as the total Returning visitors for the period of a month.

The daily Returning visitor numbers show the number of visitors on a day that also visited the site prior to the selected period. The monthly Returning visitor total shows the visitors who visited the site that month who have also visited the site prior to the selected period.

So, for example, a visitor can be registered as Returning visitor on both the first and second day of the month but for the total for the month, they are seen as one Returning visitor.  

graph_of_returning_visitors_in_May

Returning Visitor example

Let’s use the figures shown in the table below for May 2020 as an example.

For all of May, there were 42,345 unique visitors of which 977 had also visited prior to May 2020.

On May 1st there were 157 returning visitors that also had a visit prior to the selected period (i.e. May 2020.)

On May 2nd there were 61 returning visitors that also had a visit prior to the selected period (i.e. May 2020).

Let’s say a visitor was on the website in April and then returned to the site on both May 1st and 2nd. In that case, the user would be counted as a Returning Visitor on both days individually (i.e. as seen on data points on the graph and in the table below) but only counted once for the full month period (i.e. as seen on the Monthly total number provided on the top of the Historical Comparison component).

You cannot compare daily numbers to monthly numbers when it comes to Returning Visitors and Unique Visitors. A visitor can be a unique visitor on every day of the month, but when aggregating the month figures the visitor is still one unique visitor.

Monthly totals

Visits

Page views

Unique Visitors

Returning Visitors

51,250

107,128

42,345

977

Daily Visits

Day

Date

Visits

Page views

Unique visitors

Returning visitors

Friday

1/5/2020

1555

3099

1447

157

Saturday

2/5/2020

1377

2564

1268

61

Sunday

3/5/2020

1408

2843

1298

58

Monday

4/5/2020

1720

3736

1583

124

Tuesday

5/5/2020

1749

3742

1593

88

Wednesday

6/5/2020

1840

3913

1673

97

Thursday

7/5/2020

1789

3910

1632

80

Friday

8/5/2020

1550

3355

1423

74

Saturday

9/5/2020

1430

2743

1316

45

Sunday

10/5/2020

1315

2515

1230

26

Monday

11/5/2020

1895

3909

1764

110

Tuesday

12/5/2020

1896

4065

1747

90

Wednesday

13/05/2020

1745

3772

1617

84

Thursday

14/05/2020

1669

3521

1536

72

Friday

15/05/2020

1759

3864

1642

68

Saturday

16/05/2020

1302

2461

1196

27

Sunday

17/05/2020

1412

2763

1307

25

Monday

18/05/2020

1857

4108

1706

72

Tuesday

19/05/2020

1781

3978

1621

76

Wednesday

20/05/2020

1848

3897

1706

68

Thursday

21/05/2020

1915

3876

1763

59

Friday

22/05/2020

1782

3703

1657

67

Saturday

23/05/2020

1503

2939

1401

26

Sunday

24/05/2020

1525

2912

1416

16

Monday

25/05/2020

1892

4121

1743

70

Tuesday

26/05/2020

1865

3941

1695

60

Wednesday

27/05/2020

1748

3842

1626

61

Thursday

28/05/2020

1729

3552

1595

61

Friday

29/05/2020

1697

4005

1554

56

Saturday

30/05/2020

1334

2773

1212

14

Sunday

31/05/2020

1363

2706

1271

11

 

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