If you have gone through our previous blog about Google Analytics, you might have sound understanding about Google Analytics and how it is playing vital role in Digital Marketing by analyzing behavior between users and your website.
This article attempts to clarify definitions for common terms used in Google Analytics.
Before we begin to explore Google Analytics, there a few terms you should know. You’ll see them often in your Google Analytics data.
A dimension is a descriptive attribute or characteristic of an object that can be given different values. Browser, Exit Page, Screens and Session Duration are all examples of dimensions that appear by default in Google Analytics.
Metrics are individual elements of a dimension that can be measured as a sum or a ratio. Screenviews, Pages/Session and Average Session Duration are examples of metrics in Google Analytics.
A session is the period of time a user is actively engaged with your website, app, etc., within a date range. All usage data (Screenviews, Events, Ecommerce, etc.) is associated with a session.
Users who have had at least one session within the selected date range. Includes both new and returning users.
Pageviews means the total number of pages viewed. Repeated views of a single page are counted .A pageview is recorded every time a page is viewed. Or, more technically, a pageview is recorded every time the Google Analytics pageview tracking method is executed. When a visitor hits the back button, a pageview is recorded. When a visitor hits refresh, a pageview is recorded. Every time a page is opened in the browser, regardless of whether it has been cached, a pageview is recorded.
With Google Analytics, a hit is ANY request sent to the GA data collection system. This includes pageviews, events, custom variables, measurement protocol uploads, etc.
You can backup your Google Analytics data by keeping a copy of the hits sent to Google. There are many good reasons to do this, as explained here: backup your Google Analytics data.
Visitors are defined by a unique ID – this ID is usually stored in a visitor’s cookies. Whenever the tracking code is executed, it looks for cookies on the browser set by the current domain. If they can’t be found, new cookies with a new ID are set. Google Analytics emphasizes visits over visitors because of the inherent inaccuracies of trying to track individual users. For example, a visitor who deletes their cookies, uses multiple browsers or shares their computer will show up inaccurately.
- Time on Site:
This is the sum of the time on page for all pageviews in a visit. Or, more accurately, it is the difference between the time they viewed the first page and last page in a visit. Note that viewing pages in different tabs doesn’t affect this. Google Analytics simply sees a string of pages being viewed in chronological order, without any reference to multiple tabs or windows.
- Dollar Index:
A measurement of how influential a page is to conversion. The higher the number, the more frequently it was viewed prior to a purchase or conversion. It’s calculated by taking the goal conversion value or transaction value of a visit and applying it evenly to all the pages prior to that conversion. Seen in aggregate, it just attempts to correlate pages to conversions.
- New Visitor:
A visitor who did not have Google Analytics cookies when they hit the first page in this visit. If a visitor deletes their cookies and comes back to the site, the visitor will be counted as a new visitor.
- Returning Visitor:
A visitor with existing Google Analytics cookies from a previous visit.
A visit consists of a series of pageviews that a single visitor makes during a period of activity. A visit ends after the visitor either closes the browser, clears cookies, or is inactive for 30 minutes. (The timeout length is customizable in the tracking code settings)
Pageviews divided by visits. This metric shows the average number of pages viewed per visit.
Pages/session (Average Page Depth) is the average number of pages viewed during a session. Repeated views of a single page are counted.
- Avg. Session Duration:
The average length of a session.
- Direct Traffic:
Ideally, this is the traffic that came to a site via bookmarks or by directly typing in the URL. In reality, it is the traffic for which the code couldn’t determine a source. Depending on the site and the browser, some links may not show a referrer and instead would be categorized as direct. Using campaign variables will get around this misrepresentation every time.
- Referring Sites:
This is traffic for which (1) a referrer was identified, (2) the referrer is not a search engine and (3) there are no campaign variables. The referring URL (a.k.a. the page that contains the link to your website) is also stored for referrals.
- Search Engine Traffic:
Google Analytics automatically categorizes traffic as coming from a search engine if the referring URL is from its list of known search engines and there is a search term identified in that URL. Both organic and paid search engine traffic is put into this group.
A visit with one pageview. It doesn’t matter how long the visitor was on the page or how they left. Technically, it’s a visit with only one interaction.
- Bounce Rate:
Bounce rate is the percentage of single-page visits (i.e., visits in which the person left your site from the entrance page without interacting with the page).
- New Sessions:
An estimate of the percentage of first-time visits.
Goals let you measure how often users take or complete specific actions on your website.
- Event Tracking:
A feature that allows you to track visitor activities separately from pageviews. This is commonly used to track interaction with AJAX or Flash content.
Conversions are the number of times goals have been completed on your website.
Campaigns (also known as custom campaigns) allow you to add parameters to any URL from your website to collect more information about your referral traffic.
Acquisition is how you acquire users.
Behavior data helps you improve your content.
- Google Analytics API:
The API extracts data from Google Analytics accounts. It allows customers to programmatically extract Google Analytics data and incorporate it with 3rd party applications and/or databases.