With the fresh start of a new year, it’s time to brush up on the basics. Since Google Analytics is constantly making changes, regularly familiarizing yourself with both the fundamentals and newest updates is highly recommended! To reflect these adjustments, we’ve updated our Google Analytics glossary for 2015. Refer to the informational graphics below and to the right for reference.
Google Analytics Glossary 2015
Acquisition (A) –
A top level report containing data on how visitors are arriving to your website. Within Acquisition, you can select different views. “Channels,” one of our favorite views, shows a high level breakdown of traffic sources to your website, their behavior, and conversion rates.
How to use it: Notice a big spike or dip in your revenue or visitors? The first place you should look is the Acquisition reports. Click on the channels view to determine which of your efforts are causing the spike or dip.
Assisted Conversion (B) –
Summarizes how different channels (traffic sources) contribute to a conversion. Google categorizes them three ways:
- Last interaction – channel immediately precedes the conversion (this is how Google attributes conversion in every other report)
- Assisted interaction – channel is on the conversion path, but not the last interaction
- First interaction – first channel on the conversion path
How to use it: Convinced a channel is just not working for you? Stop by the assisted conversion report before writing it off completely. You may find that while the channel in question does not lead to the last interaction, it’s assisting a lot of interactions.
Average Session Duration (C) –
Measures how long customers spend on your site. Average session duration is the total duration of all website sessions divided by the number of sessions.
How to use it: The average session duration shows the overall engagement level of your visitors on your site. Longer visits may indicate a more captivating site for your visitors.
Bounce Rate (D) –
Measures the percentage of site visitors viewing only one page on your site before leaving. (They enter and leave on the same page without any type of interaction.)
How to use it: Generally, a high bounce rate indicates that website visitors are losing interest in your site, because they aren’t exploring content past the initial page. Warning: Keep context in mind. A high bounce rate on an information page, like your contact us page, doesn’t necessarily indicate a problem. Visitors might have needed your phone number, found it, and left.
Campaigns (E) –
Found under Acquisition, Campaigns allow you to view tagged traffic coming into your site (ex- an AdWords or an email campaign). Google automatically tags some traffic like AdWords, but others you will tag manually by adding in some url parameters (use the URL builder). For more information on campaigns, see: A Beginners Guide to Campaign Tracking.
How to use it: Measure and compare the results of different campaigns to ascertain effective campaigns from those with weak performance.
Channels (F) –
Found under Acquisition, channels group your data based on common sources of traffic, like paid search or direct.
How to use it: Identify the advertising efforts that are drawing the most traffic.
Conversions (G) –
Completing an activity on your site. Conversions are achieved when site visitors complete their end goal, like downloading a pdf, making a purchase, or submitting a form.
How to use it: Your conversion rate is the simplest way to determine the effectiveness of all of your marketing, design, email, and website efforts combined.
Dimensions (H) –
Dimensions can be added to any of your reports to drill down further into your data and analyze different values. You can have both primary and secondary dimensions. For example, geographic location could have dimensions like longitude, country, or city name to see more granular data about your audience. Values for the country dimension could be U.S., Mexico, Canada, etc. Dimensions that are default in Google Analytics include browser, exit page, screens, and session duration. These help you organize and segment your data.
How to use it: Dimension data is useful for pinpointing very specific variables about your site visitors to better identify and classify your audience, allowing you to market more effectively.
Direct traffic (J) –
Visitors who arrive on your site by typing in your URL or via a bookmark, instead of being assisted by Google, paid searches, social media, etc.
How to use it: By identifying the number of visitors that convert directly, you can assess word of mouth traffic, number of existing customers, people familiar with your brand, and offline campaigns. A big spike in direct traffic may indicate that one of your offline campaigns performed particularly well.
Goals (K) –
Found under Conversions. You set goals that best fit your site, and when visitors reach your goal, Google Analytics counts it as a conversion. Goals are the finish line for visitors to your website – when visitors arrive on your site, do you want them to download a pdf, make a purchase, or submit a form? Set these submissions as your goals.
How to use it: Quantify your success rate by setting goals that accurately reflect the actions you want site visitors to accomplish.
New Sessions (L) –
Included in most reports, new sessions measure first-time site visitors.
How to use it: Separate the new visitors from repeat visitors and identify pages that are more important to each group. Does your content need to be changed or could you add more content to attract more new or repeat visitors?
Pages/Session (M) –
Included in most reports, measures how many site pages were viewed during one visitor’s single session.
How to use it: Gauge how well your site captures visitors’ attention and keeps them interested. In general, higher pages/session, means more engaged visitors, however, you must put everything into context. If you have a lot of pages/session that don’t end in a conversion (goal or e-commerce), than you may have a problem.
Page views (N) –
Found under Behavior, measures how often a specific page is visited. If a visitor visits Page A, goes to the homepage, and then comes back to Page A, it’s counted as two page views.
How to use it: Page views is a great tool for calculating how well individual pages on your site are performing. Breaking your whole site down into smaller segments (like pages) is useful in identifying elements that are most or least successful.
Sessions (O) –
Included on multiple reports, sessions track how often your site was visited, and what actions were taken during each visit. (Sessions were previously called “Visits.”) Sessions measure interactions one visitor conducts on your site within a set time frame. GA sets the time frame to 30 minutes, so anything your visitor does on your site within those 30 minutes will be counted in the same session.
How to use it: Keep tabs on the volume of traffic to your site. Compare month over month or year over year to see changes over time, or analyze how an individual marketing effort (sale, email blast, social media campaign, etc.) impacted the number of people visiting your site.
Source (P) –
A traffic dimension, states the origin of a website visit, or how the visitor got to your site. Sources include google (the name of a search engine), cnn.com (name of referring site), and direct (users that type in a URL directly).
How to use it: Identifying the origin of your website traffic is a great way to determine where to focus your marketing strategy. Which source brought the right kind of visitors? Did you traffic from CNN bring “hot” visitors? Great, consider doing a PR reach with CNN, along with a paid ad.
Users (Q) –
Measures how many people visited your site (previously unique visitors). Repeat visitors are only counted once, differentiating it from sessions.
How to use it: The specificity of this data allows you to track your true audience size. It is a great way to identify if your marketing efforts are increasing your audience with fresh faces.
Bookmark these basic definitions to look back on when you get stuck. Google Analytics makes updates fairly often, and we’ll do our best to break down their impact on your marketing strategy. Check out our other Google Analytics posts about mobile engagement, benchmark reports, demographic data, or your 2015 analytics strategy.