Google Analytics is a fantastic tool for measuring traffic and the behaviour of that traffic on your site.

You can then derive meaning out of your data, report back accurate ROI to your bosses and help you justify further improvements or strategies.

Best of all it’s completely free. However when you open up Google Analytics for the first time, it’s very easy to be intimidated by its vast array of menus, navigation, graphs, visualisations and language.

I recently attended our own Google Analytics Training Course and came back with an armful of useful insight and confidence.

Here I’ll offer a quick overview of the language involved when studying Google Analytics, which should help clear a few things up, before pointing you towards further resources on the site for more expansive guidance.

(Quick note: the examples I’ll be using here are from a now defunct website in case you’re wondering about the bizarre numbers.)

Quick A-Z of keywords

Here are a few of the more common words you’ll come across in analytics. 

  • Bounce: the user’s activity on your site just involved the loading of a single page
  • Conversion: refers to an activity carried out by the user which fulfils the intended web page purpose (product purchase, download, newsletter subscription etc.)
  • Entrances: the number of times visitors entered your site through a specified page or set of pages.
  • Entry (or Landing) Page: the entry page is the first page viewed by a website visitor.  
  • Exit Point: the exit point is the last page viewed by a website visitor
  • Page Impression: a page is loaded or reloaded by a user.
  • Sessions: the activity by a unique user in one visit to your site
  • Visits: the total number of visits to your site, from unique or repeat visitors.
  • Unique Visitors: the number of unduplicated visitors to your website over the course of a specified time period.

To make things clearer, let’s take a look at how this information is relayed in Google Analytics.

Audience Overview

This is the first page you’ll see when you fire up Google Analytics. We’ll be concentrating on the seven key metrics reported here.

  1. Sessions: the activity by a unique user in one visit to your site
  2. Users: the total number of distinct devices that have accessed your site*
  3. Pageviews: the total number of pages viewed. Repeated views of a single page are counted
  4. Pages/Session: the average number of pages viewed during a visit to your site.
  5. Avg. Session Duration: the average duration time of a session
  6. Bounce Rate: the percentage of single page visits (i.e. visits in which the visitor left your site from the entrance page)
  7. % New Sessions: the percentage of visits that were first time visits (from people who had never visited your site before) 

*Device refers to any connectable technology (laptop/mobile/tablet) able to view your site. Note we refer to device rather than person because multiple people can look at the same device at any one time. 

We run regular fundamental and advanced Google Analytics training courses which you can book a place on here: Google Analytics Training and Google Analytics Advanced.

For further written guidance read our 54 page downloadable Measurement and Analytics Report.

Christopher Ratcliff

Published 23 March, 2015 by Christopher Ratcliff

Christopher Ratcliff is the editor of Methods Unsound. He was the Deputy Editor of Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via Google+ and LinkedIn

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Comments (1)

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John Smith, Owner at website devlopment

Great Overview!! Its really an interesting article & helpful for beginner but in Google analytics there is a problem. Its shows high bounce rate & sometime shows it as a unique visitor, In other stats like GoStats there is no issues with bounce rate & it display overall result in a real time.

over 2 years ago

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