Hit It Every Time: Selecting Hit Counters for Your Web Pages

Copyright September 1998 Miguel Guhlin

When I take my 4-year old daughter to carnivals, we both marvel at the ability of carnival workers to hit the target every time they throw the ball. It's a skill we both admire, respect and, sometimes, I ask myself, what's the trick? Like the carnies, I wondered for a long time how to add hit counters to my web page. Hit counters on the web allow webspinners to keep track of how many people visit their web page or site. Sometimes, I like to think of webspinners as carnival game operators vying for the attention of passersby. While web pages aren't at the point yet of collecting dollars for the chance to visit, the analogy of webspinners as carnival game operators still works for me. If you're asking yourself, what's the trick to selecting hit counters for your web page, then this article is for you.

Using Microsoft FrontPage 98 or 1.0, you can easily incorporate hit counters into every web page you create. But, what if your web page isn't in FrontPage? Adding counters to database web pages is another matter because the pages are not administered with FrontPage. While some folks have CGI (Common Gateway Interface) scripting experience, I can count on one hand the people at my place of work that can do this easily--and, I'm not one of them. So, I have to turn to hit counter services available on the web that I can use. Many Web sites use counters to show visitors how many times a page has been visited. Here are several FREE hit counter services that you can use available via the Web. The process for placing a hit counter on your page is simple. The steps are:
    1. Select a hit counter service provider.
    2. Read the terms carefully for the service provider. After signing up, you will receive via email or you can copy-n-paste the HTML code from the web page screen.
    3. Paste the HTML code that the hit counter service provider gives you at the point on your web page where you want the counter to appear.

While there are only three steps, the hardest point isn't the pasting HTML code into your page--it is selecting a hit counter service provider. Most of the hit counter services featured here will ask you to provide some basic contact information, a password, and then give some HTML code that you can insert (copy-n-paste) at the point the item is needed on the web page.


There are several factors in considering which hit counter to use. Besides the most obvious factor--cost--other factors include:
  1. Speed of the hit counter: Many hit counters can cause a noticeable lag time in the load time in most browsers. This is due to a variety of reasons, however, the main one being that the service provided is just slow.
  2. Obtrusiveness of the hit counter on your page: Some hit counters feature large graphics as well as advertisement that may not suit your particular web site. For example, take a look at these:
Notice how the graphic shown below is more advertising than counter:

Source: http://www.easycounter.com/

Notice how the graphic shown below might be considered inappropriate for a professional site:

Source: http://www.aaddzz.com/pages/counters

  1. Available reports on number of hits: Different hit counter services provide reports with differing information on a daily, weekly basis. These reports can show information such as what part of the country your visitors come from, what size screen they have, and other useful information. A sample report from : http://www.aaddzz.com/pages/counters.
  • Another example:
Sun Feb 8 10:46:48

Sun Feb 8 10:46:51 206.301.24.75

Sun Feb 8 10:46:54

Sun Feb 8 10:47:11

Sun Feb 8 10:47:13

Sun Feb 8 10:47:25 206.301.24.75
Shows total hits for any web page since the last reset for that web


Displays hit count for each web page for the visitor to see.

  1. Rules involving advertising piggybacking on the counter. Some providers of HIT counters have rules that involve advertising or other restrictions. For example, take a look at PageCounts rules for obtaining a free hit counter for your web page:

As you can see, these four factors can definitely influence how your web site looks and what remarks may be made on the graphics or advertisement used by free web page hit counters. That is why my favorite counter is FastCounter. As you can see below, the actual footprint of the counter on your page is small, and the reporting options are excellent:

Sign-Up Screen: external image image15.gif

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The Short List of Free Hit Counter Services Available on the Web