Google Analytics is an amazing free resource. It is unbelievable the information that they have about your site. But if you’re just a regular guy trying to figure out what the heck these things mean anyway, here is a very simplified vocabulary list for the main site statics you will see.
Visits – Total number of visits to your site (these visitors may view more than one page but this counts the total number of time that anyone visits). If the same person visits twice at separate times, it will be counted as 2 visits.
Unique Visits – This is the actual number of people that visited. If they visited more than once, they will only be counted once.
Page Views – These are the the total number of pages viewed. So if one person comes on and they visit 5 of your pages, this number would be 5.
Pages/Visit– This is the average number of pages each person visits while on your site.
Avg Duration – The is the average amount of time people spend viewing your site. Usually, the more pages they visit, the longer this number is, or they could just spend a long time on one page. Generally you want this number to be as high as possible because the longer they stay on your site, the more likely they are to buy, but not necessarily. Someone could just check your site quickly to find your phone number, so that would be a short but worthwhile duration.
Bounce Rate – This is the number of people who go onto your site and then immediately leave without viewing any other pages. Generally, you want this number to be as low as possible, although as in the last example, if they find your phone number on your home page, they don’t need to go any further. However, if this number is high, you need to consider making some changes. Why are they leaving without looking elsewhere on the site? This should also be viewed in conjunction with Avg Duration. If you have a high bounce rate, but the average duration is high, then maybe people are coming to your site, reading your full blog post and then leaving. Perhaps you need to make suggestions about other things they would find helpful on your site, like through a related posts plugin. Or it is possible that you need to be more specific in your site descriptions. If you are selling eye glasses and people come to your site looking for drinking glasses, and that’s why they are leaving, obviously changes need to be made to your site.
% New Visits– This is the percentage of all visits to your site that come from people who are visiting your site for the first time. This is a good number to determine if your SEO efforts are working. Of course, if you have a blog, you want people to come back and visit your site again, but new visits means the possibility of new customers!
The default report is based on the last 30 days of activity, but you can change the amount of time in the upper right hand corner. Also, don’t miss the checkbox that will allow you to compare different periods of time. By default it compares this month to last, which is pretty useful.
Have more questions about GA? I would love to hear them. They just might inspire my next post!
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