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What does Flywheel count as a “visit”?

Updated on May 1st, 2020

Flywheel determines which plan you require based on the amount of traffic to your site. Specifically, the number of “visits” to your site in a given month. We define a visit as:

A unique IP address in 24-hour period.

Essentially, we count the number of unique IP addresses that visit a site in a given day. This is the number of visits for that day. We then add up all the daily values for the entire month, and that’s how we arrive at the number of visits for your site.

Note

Before we do this, we do our best to remove IP addresses from known bots, spammers, and attackers.

We feel that this is the most fair and transparent way to measure traffic. There are many ways to do it, each with their limitations. We feel it’s important to be clear about how we measure usage, and not use ambiguous terms.

How many pageviews does this equate to?

Because we only count each visit, it means that there’s no difference between someone who visits your site and views one page, or someone that views a hundred. Both cases count as “one visit” to your Flywheel site. So, the number of pageviews could be many times the number of visits, depending on how many pages your visitors view each time they visit your site.

Why not measure using pageviews, visitors, or some other metric?

Like we mentioned, there are a ton of ways to measure traffic. Some hosting companies use pageviews, some use visitors, and some just make things up. Visits is an easy metric for us to measure on the server side, without having to inject any code into your site, which could potentially slow it down.

Can I view a report of my usage?

Yes! You can view information about the number of visits on your site, as well as CDN and disk usage on the “Stats” tab on your Flywheel dashboard.

Wait—my visitor count on Flywheel doesn’t match Google’s. Why is that?

There are several reasons for this, but the short answer is: in many ways, we’re counting different things, using different methods.

We both have our specific algorithms, and we’re both doing the best we can to be as accurate as possible, but we may filter (or more likely, notice) things Google doesn’t, and vice versa.

It isn’t that one is right and one is wrong, necessarily; we just have two different methods. We continually improve our tracking by monitoring traffic to spot new bot types and remove them.

To get more technical: a big reason for the disparity is that Google uses JavaScript-based tracking. That means that Google counts page loads in a JavaScript-enabled browser. Google may not track a visit if the whole page (or at least enough of it to get to the analytics script) doesn’t load, if JavaScript is disabled, or if the request is not loading in a browser window.

Another important note: Google can’t track any visitor who uses an ad blocker extension or a browser that blocks trackers (like Brave, Firefox Focus, or certain versions of Safari). By most estimates, at least 25–30% of web users implement an ad blocker of some kind.

For these reasons, we’re sometimes counting things differently than Google, and will often detect things that they can’t. That said, we do our best to filter out requests that we do not define as a “visit” to your site.

Okay, so what do you remove from your visit tracking?

There are two types of visits we remove from visit tracking.

First, we remove any traffic from visitors whose user agent doesn’t look like a web browser. If you’re not familiar, a user agent is a self reported piece of data included in the web request that identifies the “agent” the request is using to access the site – like which browser is being used. If it doesn’t look like a browser is hitting your site, we conclude it is not a site visit to count against your plan limits.

Second, we evaluate the remaining pool of requests for any that appear to be bots or crawlers. We use an intelligent algorithm for checking for bots and crawlers instead of relying on potentially outdated bot lists.

As always, if you have any questions pertaining to visits or how Flywheel calculates them, don’t hesitate to contact support!

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