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

Modified on: Thu, 5 May, 2022 at 9:07 AM

Siteimprove Analytics shows figures for Visits, Page views, Unique visitors, and Returning visitors. A definition of these terms can be found in the article 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

VisitsPage viewsUnique VisitorsReturning Visitors
51,250107,12842,345977

Daily Visits

DayDateVisitsPage viewsUnique visitorsReturning visitors
Friday1/5/2020155530991447157
Saturday2/5/202013772564126861
Sunday3/5/202014082843129858
Monday4/5/2020172037361583124
Tuesday5/5/202017493742159388
Wednesday6/5/202018403913167397
Thursday7/5/202017893910163280
Friday8/5/202015503355142374
Saturday9/5/202014302743131645
Sunday10/5/202013152515123026
Monday11/5/2020189539091764110
Tuesday12/5/202018964065174790
Wednesday13/05/202017453772161784
Thursday14/05/202016693521153672
Friday15/05/202017593864164268
Saturday16/05/202013022461119627
Sunday17/05/202014122763130725
Monday18/05/202018574108170672
Tuesday19/05/202017813978162176
Wednesday20/05/202018483897170668
Thursday21/05/202019153876176359
Friday22/05/202017823703165767
Saturday23/05/202015032939140126
Sunday24/05/202015252912141616
Monday25/05/202018924121174370
Tuesday26/05/202018653941169560
Wednesday27/05/202017483842162661
Thursday28/05/202017293552159561
Friday29/05/202016974005155456
Saturday30/05/202013342773121214
Sunday31/05/202013632706127111


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