Analytics – Definitions

Posted on December 1st, by Jay Murphy in analytics, Digital Marketing. 1 Comment

So we have Google analytics (or any analytics for that matter) running on our website and we look at the reports and what the …?  What are all these new words?  Analytics, like many fields, has a unique vocabulary for describing the various measures and metrics.  And again like most fields, knowing the definitions gets you a long way towards understanding what you are looking at.  So for your viewing pleasure we have the following definitions:


A visit is defined as a series of page requests from the same uniquely identified client with a time of no more than 30 minutes between each page request. So for a user who visits at 11:00 AM and then again at 11:20 this user counts as a single unique visit; if the user clicks on a new page at 11:35 it now counts as two visits.  (Some analytics packages use the term session in place of visit.)

Unique Visitors

A unique user who accesses a Website, while people cannot be identified by analytics, we substitute computers.  So a single computer that accesses a website is deemed to be a Unique Visitor.  (Most analytics tools use cookies, small files saved by a browser, to determine if a machine has been to a website before.  Since many users, estimated to be 30% or so, remove cookies on a monthly basis, unique visitors can be overstated.)

New Visitors

A visitor that has not made any previous visits.  Since New Visitors are also determined by the use of cookies saved on a visitors computer; visitors that delete cookies will appear as new visitors.

Bounce Rate

The percentage of visits where the visitor enters and exits at the same page without visiting any other pages on the site in between.  (In general a higher bounce rate is not a good sign – but some websites are designed for a single page view before leaving, for example blogs.  Use bounce rate to analyze your site based on your site’s users goals.)

Average Pages per Visit

The average number of page views a visitor views before ending their visit. It is calculated by dividing total number of page views by total number of visits.

Average Time on Site

Average amount of time that visitors spend on the site each time they visit. (This metric can be complicated by the fact that analytics programs cannot measure the length of the last page view, since the time is measured by start time of second page minus the start time of the first page.)


A request for a file whose type is defined as a page in log analysis. An occurrence of the script being run in page tagging.  In log analysis, a single page view may generate multiple hits as all the resources required to view the page (images, .js and .css files) are also requested from the web server.

These definitions are from two primary sources Wikipedia and Google.  Another source of definitions is from IAB – the guidelines for banner sizes is quite useful, but the analytics definitions have been left behind by recent advances.

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