Using Google Analytics reports requires you to understand Google Analytics metric defintions. However, when using web analytics you should not focus on useless web site metrics. Google Analytics Metrics include:
- Unique Pageview
- Pageview per Visit
- New Visitor
- Returning Visitor
- Bounce Rate
- Exit Rate
- Time on Page
- Time on Site
Visits vs Visitors
Google Analytics measures visits and visitors to your site.
Visits (or session) are the unique sessions initiated by all the visitors. Google Analytics’ time-out period for a visit is 30 minutes.
- If a user leaves your site and returns within 30 minutes, the user’s subsequent activities on your site will be attributed to the original session.
- If a user is inactive on your website for 30 minutes or more, the original session will be terminated.
A visit consists of one or more web site page views.
The difference between a visit and a visitor in Google Analytics’ definitions is:
- The initial session by a user regardless of date range is an additional visit and an additional visitor.
- Any future sessions from the same user during the selected time period are counted as additional visits, but not as additional visitors.
Pageviews vs Unique Pageviews
Google Analytics reports visits and visitors to your site.
Pageviews are the number of times a web page (an analyst-definable unit of content) is viewed. Additional pageview counts can be triggered via visiting the same web page multiple times by the same visitor, when the visitor:
- Reloads after reaching the web page.
- Navigates to a different webpage and then returns to the original webpage.
Unique pageviews are the total number of unique visitors to a given web page during the same session. A unique page view is the number of sessions during which the page is browsed one or multiple times.
Visits vs Pageviews
Visits are the number of times your visitors has been to your website, while pageviews are the number of times web pages are viewed.
Visits and pageviews form the pageviews per visit metric: The number of page views divided by number of visits in a given time period.
New Visitors vs Returning Visitors
Google Analytics can identify new visitors and returning visitors.
- A new visitor is a user that visits your site for the first time.
- A returning visitor is a user that has previously browsed your website.
Bounce Rate vs Exit Rate
Google Analytics records bounces and exits.
What are exits, exit pages and exit rate?
- Exits are the number of users that leave your site.
- Exit page is the last page on your site accessed during a visit.
- Exit rate is the percentage of site exits that occurred from a webpage or set of webpages. Exit rate will always be identical to the number of visits when applied over your entire site.
What are bounces and bounce rates?
- Bounces are the number of single-page visits to your site, regardless of the number of times the page is viewed.
- Bounce rate is the percentage of single-page visits to your site – Visits in which the user leaves your site from the entrance page.
Time on Page vs Time on Site
Time on Page is the time a visitor spent on a particular web page or set of pages. It is calculated by subtracting the initial view time for a particular page from the initial view time for a subsequent page. So time on page does not apply to exit pages of your website.
Time on site is the time a visitor spends on your site.
Clicks vs Visits
Clicks are the number of times a user has clicked on your ads, for example your Google Adwords ads. In Google Analytics reports, often the number of clicks do not match the number of visits.
Google Analytics reports more visits than Adwords reports clicks, when:
- AdWords automatically filters invalid clicks (due to Adwords click fraud), but Analytics reports all visits to your website.
- A visitor clicks on your ad, and then during a different session returns to your site through a bookmark or visits your site directly. Google Analytics reports multiple visits as the referral information from the original visit is retained, but Adwords reports one click.
Adwords reports more clicks than Google Analytics reports visits, when:
- A visitor may click your ad multiple times during a session, AdWords records multiple clicks but Google Analytics reports the separate pageviews as one visit.
- A visitor may click on your ad, but closes his browser before your web page fully loads, Google Analytics does not recognize the visit, but Adwords records the click.
- Redirects in landing pages prevent Google Analytics tracking code from loading, but Adwords records the click.
- Adwords auto-tagging is turned off and the destination URLs do not contain manually tagged campaign tracking variables, the visits (that come through Adwords) are recorded as Google Organic visits instead of Google CPC visits.
Adwords auto-tagging was explained in Google Analytics PPC Conversion Tracking.
Other Resources to Google Analytics Metrics Definitions
Google officially explains the web analytics metrics definitions of visits, clicks, visitors, page views, unique page views, bounce rates, exits, new visits, time on page and time on site.
Google’s Solutions for Southeast Asia blog offers tips to troubleshoot discrepancies between Google Analytics visits and AdWords clicks.