Google Analytics tip: a beginner’s glossary for Google Analytics

uiSo, you want to start tracking your marketing efforts. Setting up tools like Google Analytics is a great way to stay on top of your data and ultimately on top of your marketing efforts. Unique visits, conversions, and bounce rates are great places to start…but what if you don’t know what those things mean? Never fear, Whereoware is here to help!

A beginner’s glossary for Google Analytics

Visits vs. unique visitors

  • What is it? “Unique visits” is the number of individual people who visit your site. “Visits” are always higher because an individual may go to your site more than once.
  • Usage? The number of visits to your site is crucial – if traffic’s not coming, then it’s certainly not converting!

Bounce rate

  • What is it? The percentage of people who enter your site and then leave without looking at any other page.
  • Usage? Bounce rate is often an indicator of quality of visit. If a customer believes you sell forks (silverware), but it turns out that you sell forklifts, they’ll see that on the first page then ‘bounce’ before looking anywhere else. Are you drawing the right kind of traffic?

Average time on site

  • What is it? The average length of time a visitor spends on your site.
  • Usage? This is a good measure of visit quality. A large number of lengthy visits suggests that visitors interact more extensively with your site.

Top visited pages

  • What is it? The most popular pages on your site.
  • Usage? These can yield any number of data – a high “Bounce Rate” indicates a landing page that may need to be redesigned or tailored to meet visitor expectations. Keep in mind the content on the page though. A high bounce rate on a product detail page may not be good because your goal is to get them to purchase. A high bounce rate on a blog post or an informational page may not be so bad because your goal is just to get visitors to read what is on the page. A high “Time on Page” may indicate content that is particularly interesting to visitors. “Exits” from a non-goal page (product page, for example) may indicate that the page is confusing or that it generates user errors. Use this knowledge in designing future pages.

Conversion rate

  • What is it? The percentage of visits that results in a purchase.
  • Usage? This number varies depending on the type of product you are selling. It is best to track this over time. Did you have a sudden drop in conversion rate? Did something change on your website? What’s happening that made it drop?

Traffic sources

  • What is it? The different places that people were before they came to visit your site. It is broken down into four groups: direct, referral, search and “other.” Direct traffic is the result of visitors coming typing your URL into the address bar on their browser. Referral traffic is traffic is sent via links from external sites. Search traffic comes from search engines – either organic (results that show up due to Google’s natural algorithm, influenced by SEO efforts), or paid (traffic that’s driven via Pay-Per-Click advertisements you’ve spent money on. The “other” category gives you information you may have tagged from marketing campaigns, including email or third-party banner ads.
  • Usage? Looking at this data can tell you any number of things, including which traffic generates the highest revenue. This may indicate where you should focus your time and effort in the future.

The bottom line

This system isn’t infallible. It uses a first-party cookie and JavaScript code to collect information about visitors and to track your advertising campaign data. Google Analytics, along with most web analytics software, will never give you 100% accurate results. If someone blocks cookies, then they are not counted. If someone erases cookies, then they’re counted differently. In addition, cookies are browser specific. That being said, however, using Google Analytics is a great way to get an estimate of campaign success or failure.

Once you’ve got the tools in place, sit back and watch the data roll in, and start looking at it with your newfound knowledge. We hope this guide helps get you your way!

Note: We’ve got some great tips and tricks scattered throughout this blog – feel free to take a look at some of our older Google Analytics posts. Have any more questions about terminology or how to find something in the Google Analytics platform? Ask us in the comments, and we’ll help you out the best we can!