This post attempts to explain some of the common terms used in Google Analytics. I hope that after this post, you would have a better understanding of your Google Analytics reports if you are a beginner.
Common Google Analytics Terminology
An individual person browsing your website, tracked by a unique browser cookie. Multiple browser cookies are created for every device that a visitor uses to visit your website. So, the same person viewing your website on a desktop, a mobile phone, and a tablet will be counted as three Users in Google Analytics.
A single visit to your website is called a Session. A single Session can have multiple interactions – including Page views, link clicks, page scrolls and e-commerce transactions. The default Session timeout is 30 minutes, after which the Session count increments.
Average Session Duration
This metric provides an overview of the time spent on your website. Average Session Duration calculated by Google Analytics is simply the sum of all the session durations divided by total number of sessions. However, Google Analytics is unable to calculate Average Session Duration for the last page viewed as it considers the time spent on the last page as 0. So, the reported Average Session Duration is typically lower than your actual Average Session Duration.
In Google Analytics, you can view the above metrics by going to Audience -> Overview.
A Pageview is reported when a user views a page on your website. The Pageview count is incremented if a single user views the same webpage multiple times in a single Session.
If a User visits the same webpage multiple times in a Session, it is considered as a single Unique pageview for that User. For example, if a User visited the homepage of a website, then navigated to the ‘Contact Us’ page and then back to the homepage, Google Analytics will report a Pageview count of two and a Unique Pageview count of one for the homepage.
Average Time on Page
Average Time on Page is simply the time spent on a single page. It is calculated by subtracting the timestamps of two successive pages on a website. Again, this metric will be recorded as 0 for an Exit page. The Average Time on Page is calculated as Total Time on Page / (Page views – Exits).
Bounce Rate gives an indication of single page view interactions on your website. When a visitor enters and leaves your website from a single webpage, it’s called a bounce. Bounce Rate is calculated by dividing the number of single-page sessions (bounces) by the total number of sessions. Bounce Rate is an indicator of the engagement on a website. A bounced session has a session duration of 0 seconds, so a higher bounce rate can really bring your website’s average session duration down.
In Google Analytics you can analyze Page views, Unique Page views, Average Time on Page and Bounce Rate in a single view by going to Behavior -> All Pages.
Exit Rate represents the percentage of website visitors who leave your website, regardless of any number of web pages visited in that particular session. The key thing to note here is that a low Exit Rate for a page suggests that users are visiting other webpages after visiting that page.
In Google Analytics, you can view your top Exit pages by going to Behavior -> Site Content -> Exit Pages
Bounce Rate vs. Exit Rate
- It follows from above that a bounce will always be an exit, whereas an exit may or may not be a bounce.
- A higher Bounce Rate is not ideal unless you have a one-page website.
- A bounce is always one page visit, whereas an exit can consist of multiple page visits.
- Bounce Rate is reported for the first page a visitor enters, while the Exit Rate is reported for the last page of a website visit.
For a detailed understanding of the terms used in Google Analytics, check out this glossary by LovesData.