Users and Sessions – how many people were on your website?
Users is the number of visitors you have had on your website within the specified date range.
This metric includes both new and returning visitors.
A Session is "a group of interactions that take place on your website within a given time frame."
Simply put, it includes everything an individual visitor does on your website within a pre-set time frame.
Note: By default, a session ends after 30 minutes of inactivity.
Let's look at this example. When a user, say Tom, arrives on your website, Google Analytics starts
counting from that moment. In other words, his session starts. Every time Tom interacts with the
website (for example, opens a new page, clicks on a button, etc.) the interaction is recorded. If 30 minutes pass
without any interaction from Tom, the session ends.
Sessions is different from Pageviews. Pageviews is the total number of pages views,
including repeat views of a single page. This is where pageviews fall short – it doesn't tell you how engaged your
visitors are. While it tells you how many pages are viewed, it doesn't tell you if your visitors viewed a lot of
pages because of the value and quality of your content, or if it's because they couldn't find what they were looking
for (ie. jumping from page to page).
Traffic Sources – How did they get here?
Once you have gotten a better idea of how many visitors are visiting your website, your next question would be,
where are these people coming from? and how did they get here?
Traffic Sources is where you will find those answers. It shows you where your visitors are coming from.
Every visitor comes from somewhere (or source) and the most common sources are:
Search traffic – these visitors arrived at your website from search engines such as Google and Bing.
Referral traffic – these visitors arrived at your website from other websites (ie. your banner ads, a link on Facebook
or a link from another blog).
Direct traffic – these visitors typed your web address directly into their web browser.
Other – these include marketing campaigns you have run, email, etc.
You can learn a lot by understanding where your visitors are coming from. It gives you an idea of where you should concentrate
your marketing efforts, the strength of your brand, if your email campaigns are working, etc.
Bounce Rate – How many people were just "passer-bys"?
Bounce Rate is the percentage of visits in which the visitor has left your website from the entrance page, without interacting
with the page. In other words, a "bounce" is when someone arrives at your website and immediately clicks on the back button or
closes their web browser. This is similar to a customer walking in the front door of your store, and immediately walking back
out the door.
While it could just be as simple as a visitor arrived at your website by accident (ie. web address typo or an unintended click on the
search engine results), but it could also mean the visitor didn't find what they were looking for on your website and decided to leave.
While on its own, the bounce rate doesn't tell you much about your visitors (other than the fact that they left your website). But when you
combine it with other website statistical data, you can get a better understanding of things. For example say your website gets a lot of
traffic from search engines and has a high bounce rate, it means that visitors clicked on your link thinking they would find what they
need on your website, but only to realized that's not the case once they have landed on your website – so it could be a strong
indication that you are targeting the wrong keywords or your site title and description could use a bit fine-tuning.
Exit Page – Which page did they leave from?
Unlike a "bounce", an "exit" is when a visitor views multiple pages on your website and then leaves.
In other words, the Exit Page data tells you the most common pages that visitors views last before leaving your website.
Some pages naturally have a higher exit rate, such as the order receipt page or the contact form submission confirmation page – a visitor
is most likely done after they see that they have successfully submitted a purchase order or inquiry.
However, if you have high exit rates on other pages on your website, it might be an indication of problems. For example, if your
View Shopping Cart page is one of the top exit pages on your website, then you might have to examine if the page is not doing its intended
function – converting visitors to customers.
Conversion Rate – How many of them left an impression on your website?
Conversion rate tells you the percentage of visitors who complete a desired action on your website, such as making a purchase, signing up for
email newsletters, viewing a specific page on your website.
In other words, it measures how many visitors interacted with your website and how successful your website is. For example, if your website
has a low conversion rate, you are either attracting the wrong type of visitors to your website, or your website is not effective at
convincing your visitors that you have what they are looking for.
Top Content/Pages – Which page(s) did they view the most?
It is always important to know what pages on your website are getting the most traffic. For example, if you have a page that receives the
majority of your website traffic, then you know that content added to that particular page would most likely be viewed by your visitors
and would most likely give you the best conversion rate.
Pages/Session and Average visit duration – How long did they stay on your website?
Page per session is the average number of pages a visitor views during a session on your website.
Average session duration is the average amount of time a visitor spends on your website within a session.
These data can be used as an indication of how engaged a visitor is with your content and your overall website design.
For example, if the Page/Session metric is high but the Avg. Session Duration metric is awfully low (say 30 seconds or less),
it might be an indication that your content is not interesting enough or maybe your website's design and layout is too difficult
and confusing to navigate – visitors are basically jumping from page to page without spending much time to read your content.