Coming to Terms with Analytics
Chances are, your website is for more than an audience of one.
Web statistics are important in gauging how frequntly it's being accessed, by whom and how they are interacting with the site.
Google Analytics (GA) is arguably the most popular tool for this purpose. Free and easy to install, it offers high return on investment.
GA can be overwhelming at first glance but you can get a lot of useful information by just scratching the surface.
In this article, I'm going to explain what some of the key terms mean in plain english.
The number of times people have visited your website. Simple enough?
A visit includes all actions the visitor takes, from the time they arrive on your website until they leave. A visit is also ended if they become inactive for 30 minutes or more.
A pageview is recorded whenever a visitor loads a page on your website. A single visit may include multiple pageviews, as the visitor goes from one page to another.
Note: Some people confuse pageviews with 'hits', a term that isn't used in GA and has a different meaning.
The percentage of visitors that came to your website but "bounced" (left the site) without viewing other pages. This is essentially a single-page visit.
High bounce rates may suggest people aren't finding what they're looking for or that there isn't enough enticement to view subsequent pages.
This represents the number of different people who have visited your website. Someone can access the website more than once but they are still only counted as one unique visitor.
These are other websites that have sent visitors to your website. Incoming links from other quality websites are a valuable aid in boosting your search rankings.
% New Visits
The percentage of total visits that are from people who have never visited your site before.
Avg. Visit duration
The average time that visitors have spent on your website. This can be a good indicator of whether people are really taking the time to digest your site content or not.
Only Scratching the Surface
There is a lot that can be done with GA, from seeing which pages are the most popular to the cities your users live in and what computer setup they're using.
It gets really interesting when you start to filter and overlay different stats. You might like to see how people on mobile devices are behaving differently or where the users that spend the longest on your site are coming from.
Data from GA helps fuel and validate good decisions about redesigning your site.
Hopefully this brief article has given you some insight. If you'd like help taking it further, drop us a line.