Google Analytics' a powerful tool for data-minded people. But if you don't understand what the individual terms the tool uses mean, you won't be able to use the data effectively.
Now, this isn't going to be a complete, in-depth article. It's simply a selection of the more common terms you'll probably see within a report that aren't too intuitive. Hits
I'm starting with hits because pretty much everything that happens on a website is considered a hit. A hit is a request made to a web server by a browser. Again, nearly everything's a hit, including web pages, images, programmed events, etc.
Every person who visits your website generates one session. A session lasts until the person leaves the site or 30 minutes of browser inactivity has gone by (example: they loaded your website but went out to grab a coffee). Each session is a group of hits (above) of that one user. If a user leaves and returns 30 mins later, a new session is created.
average session duration
The metric displays the average amount of time each session added up to.
time on page
The amount of time a single person spends on a page. Note: pages with more text might lead to higher times.
entrances / landing page
Websites tend to have multiple pages. The entrance is the page a person entered your site. Example: if they arrived at your site via your contact page, the entrance page would list https://example.com/contact-us/. The most common entrance pages are your homepage and popular blog posts.
Note: this is also referred to as the Landing Page.
The last page a user viewed before leaving your site. Bounce rate
If 100 people visited your website in one month, and 50 of them left immediately after viewing only one page, your bounce rate would be 50%.
Don't get alarmed, though. This isn't always a bad thing. Example: 40 of those 50 people who immediately left your website left because they read a headline, found your phone-number and called you. That's not a bad reason to have a high bounce rate.
Here's what I'm saying: before you make changes based on a bounce rate, you need to first discover WHY people are bouncing quickly.
Quick tip about this: it helps to know what organic or paid search terms are driving people to your site. If you can tie that in with the bounce rate, you'll have a better idea of what to change.
PageViews is the number of times a page is loaded/re-loaded in a browser.
unique page views
How many times an individual page was viewed by different users (different sessions).
An impression is generated whenever a search term related to your website is seen organically in a search engine result. Example: if your website link is displayed 100 times in search results in one month, you'll have 100 impressions.
If someone clicks your link in a search engine result, a click is generated. This is a common metric SEO experts use to judge the success of their efforts.
Your clickthrough rate is calculated by dividing the number of CLICKS a link receives by the number of IMPRESSIONS it has. Example: if your link is displayed 100 times in a search result in one month, that counts as 100 impressions. If 50 people clicked the link, your CTR is 50%. Again, this is a common metric SEO experts use.
When someone types your specific website's URL into their browser (i.e., they do NOT find it through search engines), it's considered direct traffic. This triggers with bookmarks, email links, etc.
organic search traffic
Organic traffic is the kind of traffic SEO is concerned with. It's the traffic to your site from organic search results, such as Google, Bing and Yahoo. This excludes Paid Search Traffic.
Traffic that's the result of paid advertising within Google AdWords or Bing Advertising.
Referral traffic includes search engine traffic, but it also includes links from other websites and social channels. In fact, you can see which channel by clicking on it (Facebook, Instagram, etc.).
Do you need a hand interpreting the results of a report or a second opinion on one? Feel free to contact us or give us a call.