Hit – definition and meaning

A hit occurs when a web server sends a file to a browser. Hits are an approximate measure of a website’s traffic. In business English, when something is a hit, it means that many people like it, i.e., it is selling very well.

In non-business and non-technical English, a hit may be an impact or collision, i.e., a blow. When people use the term in the world of recreational drugs, a hit is a dose.

The verb ‘to hit’ means to strike with force or to reach a level. For example, I can say “The Dow Jones hit 20,000 for the first time ever.”

Also, the term may mean to suddenly think of something, as in “That’s when it hit me that my childhood days were over.”

This article focuses on the business and internet meanings of the term.

What is a hit single?

In 1965, the Beatles, a British music group, released the song ‘Help!’ The song was a hit. This means that the song was extremely popular. In fact, it was number one in both the United Kingdom and United States for three consecutive weeks.

A hit single is a song or instrumental tune that is a big seller. It also appears in an official music chart, and people can hear it repeatedly on the radio.

Groups like releasing hits because it means they are famous. It also means they are making a lot of money.

Hit - definition and examples
The word ‘hit’ as a verb or noun has several possible different meanings.

A song is a hit when it reaches the UK’s ‘Singles Chart’ or the US’ ‘Billboard Magazine’s Hot 100’. It should also remain there for one week or longer.

We commonly refer to hits as being in the top 40, top 20, or top ten. The US includes radio play in the official charts, but not the UK.

Of all the songs in history, the most popular was not one by the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Michael Jackson, or Beyonce. It was, in fact, the soundtrack of one of the most famous Disney attractions – ‘It’s a Small World.’

We can also use the term in other business situations. Although we can use the word for prescription drug sales, we usually refer to it as a blockbuster. We also use the term blockbuster for movies.

A book that hits is a bestseller.

Do not confuse hits with market leaders. A market leader refers to a company or country that has the greatest sales in the market. The greatest sales, that is, in a specific product. For example, Germany is a market leader in luxury cars.

Hit – website traffic

Every time a web server sends a browser a file, its log file records a hit.

We measure a website’s traffic according to how many hits it has over a specific period. However, it is only an approximate measure.

It is an approximate measure because there can be several hits for each download. Every banner, button, hot-link, for example, in a webpage corresponds to a server file.

Imagine you go to a webpage that has several different elements such as videos and graphic images. Your single ‘visit’ on that page may generate several ‘hits.’

That is why when talking about website traffic, the number of hits and visitors is different.

Hits, page views, and unique visitors

When looking at website statistics, there are three terms people look at.

Hits are single file requests in the access log of servers. A request for an HTML page that has two graphic images will result in three hits. There will be one for each for the graphic image files and one for the HTML text file.

Page Views measure how many times a person has viewed a whole page. Page views do not give us information on images or whether the visitor clicked on any links, etc.

We define a  Unique Visitor as one visitor over a specific period, regardless of how many visits that person made. In other words, it is visits from a single IP address, i.e., one place. If I visit a web page at 11am, and then again at 11.07am from the same place, the system logs me as just one unique visitor.

We gauge unique visitors over a specific period, such as one day, week, or month. We also call them unique users.

The Digital Marketing Reference says the following regarding hits:

“A hit is merely a request for a file from a Web server. A request for a Web page counts as a hit, but so does a request for a graphic on a Web page.”

“Since the number of graphics per page can vary considerably, hits mean very little for comparison purposes.”

Video – Writing a hit song in one minute

In this video, Belgian electronic artist Buy Stromae talks about his song ‘Alors on dance.’ The song went global and was number one in sixteen countries.