This post (along with other posts and pages on this site) may include affiliate links. If you make a purchase from an affiliate link, I may receive a commission at no additional cost to you.
Now that you’ve got Google Analytics installed, you’re going to want to know what all those numbers mean. Here are some of the basic metrics that you’ll see in Google Analytics, and what they mean in the real world.
Session: A session is a single visit to your website from a single person. That one session includes everything they do during that visit, including visiting multiple pages, buying something, signing up for a newsletter, etc. By default, Google keeps the session open for 30 minutes, so if someone sticks around longer, it would count as 2 sessions.
Pageview: A pageview is just like what it sounds like – the view of a page on your website. With Google Analytics, you can see how many times any page on your site was viewed.
User: A user is a unique person (ok, a unique computer) who visits your website. One user can have multiple sessions, and each session can have multiple page views.
Bounce Rate: The bounce rate is the percentage of sessions that have a single page view. (A session with a single page view is a bounce.) Bounce rate is one of the things you have to look at knowing your site goals. For example, if you’re a lifestyle blog, you may want readers to get hooked and read a lot of articles, and a low bounce rate. On the other hand, if you’ve got a 1-page informational website with a “call me” call to action, your bounce rate is going to be 100%.
Session Duration: If a session is a visit to your website from a single person, the session duration is how long that visit lasts. Session duration is an average.
Traffic Sources: This is how people are getting to your website. It includes direct (they typed in your URL), organic search (the results in a search based on your optimization), paid search (Google Adwords), social (Facebook, Twitter, etc), and “Other” (frequently other paid channels).
Referrals: This is more detailed information about where your traffic is coming from than just traffic sources. If traffic sources says “Social”, referrals will tell you that you got traffic from m.facebook.com, l.facebook.com, and facebook.com.
Goals: There’s no getting away from goals, even in your analytics. You can create goals in google analytics to track actions you want users to take on your website. They’re great for actions like subscribing to your email newsletter, submitting a contact form or registering as a member. We’ll be covering how to go over goals in a future post.
Of course, this isn’t a comprehensive list of everything you’re going to find in the tangled web of Google Analytics. But most of the rest of them are pretty self-explanatory, as long as you’ve got these basics covered.
Here are a few examples of other measures you’ll find in Google Analytics that need no explanation:
New vs returning users
Sessions by browser
Wondering what a certain metric in your dashboard means? Send me a message!
Did you miss part 1 of the series? Read Google Analytics for Beginners >>
Read part 3: Creating Google Analytics Goals >>
Get the 1-Page Marketing Plan & Weekly Marketing Tips!
Grab the printable version of the Minimum Viable Marketing Plan 1-Page Marketing Plan my clients use to ensure they're focused on what matters most. PLUS, get access to the full Minimum Viable Marketing resource library and the weekly newsletter with expert insights, including trends in marketing, business and productivity today.
PS. I hate SPAM even more than you do. (Not even the bacon SPAM is tempting.) Your email address will never be sold or shared with a third party.