Understanding a website visitor’s flow to you and making sure all your hard work online is paying off by reading your analytics can be a daunting task if you don’t know what you’re looking for. Consider this a cheat sheet for when you sit down to review your first analytics report.

1) Know your key terms.

A page view is counted every time someone loads the page on his or her browser. If someone loads the main page of your site, navigates to the “About Us” section, then goes back to the main page—that is considered three page views.

A visit is a period of interaction between a browser and a website, and is measured in lengths of time. This is also known as a session.

A unique visitor counts as a visitor only once. If you have “visitor A” come to your site once, and then again three more times, it only counts as one unique visitor.

The difference between new vs. return visitors is that a high level of new visitors means you are successful at driving traffic to your site, while a high level of return visitors means your site is engaging enough for them to come back. Recency and Loyalty reports tell how often and how frequently your visitors return.

Traffic sources tell you where your visitors are coming from on the web. Direct traffic sources are users that clicked on a bookmark or typed the URL into a browser to arrive at your site. Referring sites are any sites that sent traffic your way. Search Engine traffic comes from visitors who clicked on a search result link. These search results can either be organic (SEO) or paid (SEM).

Qualified Traffic encompasses visitors that arrived at your site and engaged with whatever product or service you sell.

Bounce rate is the amount of single-page sessions in which the person left your site from the entrance page without interacting with the page.

Keywords are the words that visitors expect to find on your site. Keywords with a high bounce rate suppose that you did not meet your visitors’ expectations.

2) Avoid focusing on a single measurement, but look at it within the context of other measurements.

You might have 1,200 views but a really high bounce rate, which could mean that even though you are generating traffic, they aren’t qualified leads or your website is not serving them the information they want correctly.

3) Check to see how the performance of a page looks over time.

A single day’s or week’s worth of data doesn’t paint a clear picture of your site’s performance. Ideally, you should check on a monthly basis or at most, two-week stretches. This way, you’ll be able to identify traffic trends between spikes and dips—which are associated with your digital and social campaigns.

4) Investigate changes in trends.

If you see an off-spike in traffic, try to correlate any online happening that might have driven traffic away.

Knowing those basic terms will really help you understand what those numbers really mean. Need more info/help on the subject of understanding web analytics? Contact me!

– Danny