Analytics Terminology Cheat Sheet

Getting started with Google Analytics is sure to be confusing unless you have a good understanding of the terminology.  This is certainly not a complete list of terms but it does reviews those terms which I think tend to cause the most confusion.

Report Showing Dimensions and Metrics

Report Showing Dimensions and Metrics

Metrics  –  Are counts of variables such as page views, sessions, goal completions, average time on page etc. Two metrics can be combined to make a ratio such as a conversion rate which is goal completions divided by views.

Custom Metrics –  You can identify and create your own metric in the Admin section of your analytic account under the setting “Custom Definitions.”  If you have a gaming app the score count might be a good example of a custom metric that you could track or if you email with a service like Mail chimp you might set up a custom metric relating to email opens.

Dimensions –  Are characteristics or attributes that relate to a single user such as browser, device, geographic location, channel, keyword, visitor path on the website, number of visits, etc.  Google Analytics defines the term as follows; “Dimensions describe characteristics of your users, their sessions and actions.”

Secondary Dimensions – Similar to primary dimensions in characteristics or attributes they describe. Secondary Dimensions allow a further layer of filtering beyond the primary dimension.

Custom Dimensions – You can create custom dimensions in the Admin section of your analytics account under the setting “Custom Definitions.”  A good example would be the state of the visitor such as logged in user vs. not signed in.

Segments – Analytics comes with over 20 build in segments that describe behavior and acquisition modes such as returning users or paid traffic.  Segments act as filters that you can apply to one or more dimensions.

Custom Segments – You can create a custom segment to look at just those visitors from Chicago who visited more than 3 pages.  Custom segments that meaningful relate to shopping behavior are often the most useful. For example a custom segment might be defined based on the type of content a visitor consumed.

Goals- Goals represent the most important actions that you want visitors to take on your website such as purchasing a product or filling out a lead form.  They are setup from the admin section of analytics and can be related to a page view or an event and assigned a monetary value.

Events – Event can be used to track any action that you want to record such as the number of times a video is played or a specific link is clicked.

Macro vs Micro Conversions – Macro conversions are the most important conversions that happen on the website such as sales or lead generation. Whereas, micro-conversions relate to small wins such as a video that might get played to completion or the generation of social sharing.

Users vs. Unique Visitors

Users vs. Unique Visitors – Google now reports unique visitors as the number of users. The number of unique visitors is determined via cookies stored in the user’s browser. Analytics has two ways of calculating the number of users that may result in discrepancies between different reports (read more).

Sessions – Sessions are best thought of as a set of interactions that take place over a specified time period. The default time period in Analytics is 30 minutes unless some activity takes place to reset the time period (read more). A session can also be reset if the same user returns to the site via a different campaign.  A single user can open multiple sessions.

Impression: The number of sessions in which an advertisement, product or other type of digital media was displayed on a device.

Exit vs. Bounce Rate:  The bounce rate references the number of visitors who only looked at one page of the website and then left. In contrast, the exit rate looks at those visitors which looked at several pages and then left.

In-Page Analytics:  This type of analytics measures events that happen within a single page. A heat map showing mouse click density is a good example of In-page analytics.

Top Exit Pages:  These are the pages where the most visitors are leaving your website. It’s useful to look at a report of these pages and identify any problems or improvements.

Top Landing Pages:  These are the pages where the most visitors enter the website. It’s useful to look at a report of these pages and identify any problems or improvements especially those top landing page with high bounce rates.

About David Urmann

David Urmann is an entrepreneur and avid traveler. He keeps an authoritative expertise on many subjects including SEO, SEM, UI/UX Optimization. An avid traveler and a guide book writer Dr. Urmann is the founder of one of the world's most active social travel networks.