If you’re curious about who is visiting your website and what they do once they’re there, Google Analytics is a fantastic tool. The best part is that it is free. The worst part is that there is so much data, sometimes it’s difficult to understand what it all means or even where to start.
Below, I have listed the most common Google Analytics terms and what they mean. I hope this will be a good starting point for you to decipher the information Google is providing.
Google Analytics Definitions
A group of interactions that take place on your website within a given time frame. For example, a single session can contain multiple screens or page views, events, social interactions, and e-commerce transactions. Think of a session as being the container for the actions a user takes on your website.
A single user can open multiple sessions. Those sessions can occur on the same date, or over several days, weeks or months. As soon as one session ends, there is then an opportunity to start a new session.
A session ends after 30 minutes of inactivity or at midnight (‘end of day’ is determined by your view timezone settings).
A session can also end if the user accesses your website through one campaign (an online advertisement), leaves and then accesses your website again through another campaign (a Google search).
Users / Active Users
How many users viewed or interacted with your website.
Google Analytics uses two different techniques for calculating Users for different kinds of report requests. As a result, you may notice differences in the number of Users in different reports.
It’s possible for the number of Sessions to be less than the number of New Users. This happens when someone visits your website but does not interact with it.
The total number of pages downloaded when someone visited your website. Repeated views of a single page are also counted.
Pages / Session
The average number of pages viewed per session.
Avg. Session Duration
The total duration of all sessions in seconds divided by the number of sessions.
The percentage of single-page sessions; the person left your website without interacting with the page they came in on.
% New Sessions
Percent of total users who came to your websites for the first time.
This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what Google Analytics can tell you about your website visitors. If you’d list to see the complete list, go to the Google Analytics Glossary.