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A web counter or hit counter is a publicly displayed running tally of the number of visits a webpage has received.
Web counters are usually displayed as an inline digital image or in plain text. Image rendering of digits may use a variety of fonts and styles, with a classic design imitating the wheels of an odometer. Web counters were often accompanied by the date it was set up or last reset, to provide more context to readers on how to interpret the number shown. Although initially a way to publicly showcase a site's popularity to its visitors, some early web counters were simply web bugs used by webmasters to track hits and included no visible on-page elements.
Owing to their ubiquity, hit counters were also a useful tool to collect data on the global usage share of web browsers for a time.
Counter SEO schemes
In one SEO spamming technique, companies paid to have their site listed in the HTML code of a free hit counter. When a webmaster put it on their page, a small link appeared at the bottom, providing a way for sites to artificially accumulate inbound links. This was often done by sites in very competitive industries like online gambling. In 2008, Google removed a number of high-ranking mesothelioma sites that had been using counters from the top results.[failed verification]