Google analytics is a free tool available to anyone and can offer great insight into the behavior of website visitors. A good understanding of this information allows you to make changes to your site, ad campaigns, and landing pages to improve traffic and make more conversions. Unfortunately, Google analytics often intimidates many users, so it goes unused. Don’t worry, we’re here to help.
In this post, we will cover some of the most common Google analytics terms that will help you take full advantage of this incredible resource.
Google Analytics: Basic Terms and Definitions
Google defines engagement as any user interaction with your site. This could include watching a video, viewing a product details page, or spending a certain amount of time on a specific page. Any interaction will be tracked as engagement.
A session is any period of time that a user spends on your site. Session duration is tracked and broken down into various segments such as 0-10 seconds, 11-30 seconds, and so on. Sessions have time limits and a standard session will end after 30 minutes of inactivity. Session duration and visit duration are often used interchangeably.
One important bit of information for this section is that if a user only visits one page on your site, they will always fall in the 0-10 second category. So even if they spend 20 minutes reading one page, they still fall in this time bracket. Encourage visitors to navigate to other pages!
Within each visit or session, the number of times a user visits a page is tracked. There are two types of pageviews that Google looks at. Pageviews tracks every single view even if a user continues to visit the same page repeatedly. Unique Pageviews tracks all the pages that are viewed, but it does not count repeated visits. So, if a user visits the same page ten times, it is always registered as one visit.
Pages Per Session
This is the number of pages viewed by each user in a single session. It will include repeated page views.
Average Session Duration
Average session duration is the amount of time each session lasts on average.
New and Returning Visitors
New visitors are those who are coming to your site for the first time. Returning visitors are those visitors who have been to your site in the past. This information is gathered through cookies so if a user clears their browser cookies, a past visitor can show up as a new visitor. Additionally, if a user visits your site through their phone, tablet, and computer, this will be tracked as 3 new visitors.
Landing Page or Entrance Page
These terms are used interchangeably. A landing page is the very first page a user visits at the beginning of a registered session. This is a valuable tool for determining how most visitors are being attracted to your site.
The opposite of a landing page is an exit page. This is the last page a user visits before leaving your site during a particular session.
A bounce is simply a single-page session. What bounce rate tells us is the percentage of your site visitors that have only a single-page session. Bounce rates can give some of the most valuable information about a site or page. A very high bounce rate could indicate that someone searched for information, found your site, but the information they wanted was not there, so they left. On the other hand, a low bounce rate could mean you are providing exactly what they are looking for. This statistic can be a very powerful tool for understanding where your site needs improvements.
A conversion is any time a visitor becomes a customer, or a potential customer, depending on what you are tracking. A visitor can purchase something directly from your website which would be a conversion. If you only gather lead information, a conversion could be a lead submission.
Types of Traffic
Direct traffic is when someone has a direct URL to a webpage, perhaps from an email they were sent, and there is no search conducted.
Organic Search Traffic
Organic search traffic is traffic directly from unpaid search results. Low organic search traffic could mean your SEO needs a little work or your keyword strategy needs to be revisited.
Paid Search Traffic
Paid search traffic is traffic directly from paid Google Ads.
Referral Traffic is traffic that comes from a link on another website. This can often be from social media posts where your information is shared.
Generate More Traffic by Understanding Google Analytics
There are many more complex metrics that can be analyzed in Google analytics but if you can gain a decent understanding of the above terms, you will be able to make significant improvements to your website. These improvements will lead to less people landing on your site leaving, visitors staying longer than before, and ultimately, more conversions.