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

Modified on: Tue, 10 Aug, 2021 at 7:34 AM

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