Google Analytics DIY: What’s The Meaning Of That Word?

Last week we started our DIY Google Analytics series with Getting Started, a tutorial on how to set up your GA account and connect it to your website. Now that you’re in there bouncing around and checking things out, there are probably some words and terms that you’re not sure what they mean.

Glossary of Terms

This week’s tutorial is a glossary of terms that will help you to better understand GA.

You can understand how people find your website using the Acquisition reports. The reports  present data based on the source and medium of your users, along with other acquisition  dimensions. There are dedicated reports for your paid traffic from Google AdWords, organic traffic  from Google (if you have linked your Google Search Console account), traffic from social networks  and traffic from custom campaign tags.

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Active Users
The Real Time and Home reports show you how many people are currently viewing content on  your website. Data is processed within a few seconds into the Real Time reports and you can view  data for the previous 30 minutes. While the Active Users report (under ‘Audience’) tells you the number of unique users who performed sessions on your website within a certain number of  days.  

You can configure custom audiences to see more granular metrics inside your reports. For  example, if you’re considering running a re-marketing campaign you can create an audience to monitor current performance before you begin advertising. You can find the Audiences report  under ‘Audience’.

A bounce is reported when a user’s session only contains a single page-view. The idea is that  someone comes to your website and they ‘bounce’ away and leave after only viewing a single page.

Bounce Rate
Bounce rate is the percentage of sessions with a single page-view. Bounce rate can provide  top-level insights about the performance of your content. For example, if you want people to  travel on to view a subsequent page on your website, then you can aim to lower your bounce rate.  It’s also important to apply context when analyzing bounce rate,since some pages will deliver all  of the information somebody is looking for on a single page, for example, a store locator or a blog  post. 

Campaign Name
Campaign name is one of the four main dimensions (along with source,medium and channel) for  reporting and analyzing marketing campaigns. The campaign name is provided when you use a campaign tagged URL for your inbound marketing or from your Google AdWords campaigns  (when Google AdWords is linked to Google Analytics).    

Campaign Tags 
Inbound marketing can be tracked and reported by Google Analytics using campaign tags. Extra  details (query parameters) are added to the ends of URLs which are then included in the  Acquisition reports. Campaign tags include campaign name, source, medium, term and content.  Learn more about campaign tags.

Channels provide top-level groupings of your inbound marketing. Each channel combines source  and medium so you can understand overall performance. For example, the default channel  grouping includes ‘Organic Search’, ‘Paid Search’, ‘Social’ and ‘Email’ which automatically combines  pre-defined sources and mediums. You can also configure your own custom channel groupings.

A conversion is reported whenever a user completes a goal or makes a purchase during a session.  Each goal will report a maximum of one conversion per session, while every transaction is  reported. See also goal completion and eCommerce transaction.   

Cost-per-click or CPC can be seen in the Acquisition reports and typically refers to people clicking  through to your website from paid ads. This includes traffic from linked Google AdWords accounts  and campaign tagged URLs where the medium has been defined as ‘CPC’ or ‘PAID’.

One of two types of data that Google Analytics collects,a dimension is an attribute or  characteristic of your users and the interactions with your website. Dimensions are typically  presented as a row of information within your reports. Examples of dimensions include page path,  which provides information about the pages people have viewed and marketing channel which  provide information about how people found your website. You’ll find the dimension presented in  the first column inside the standard Google Analytics reports. See also metric. 

Direct traffic includes people who typed your website’s URL into their browser or clicked a link in  an email application (that didn’t include campaign tags). Direct sessions will also include other  cases where Google Analytics is unable to identify the source of the click. Google Analytics will only  assign ‘direct’ as a last resort when a known source is used, that source will be attributed to the  session.

A custom interaction (or attribute) that is tracked from your website into Google Analytics, for  example, tracking plays of an embedded video.Each event can include up to three dimensions  (the event ‘category’,‘action’ and optional ‘label’) and a metric (the optional event ‘value’).Events  require custom implementation to be tracked and are then reported inside the standard  ‘Behavior’ reports. Events can also be used to configure event-based goals.   

Filters can be applied to reporting views inside Google Analytics to include a subset of data (for  example, only include data for particular parts of the website) or exclude a subset of data (for  example, excluding your own sessions on the website) or to transform the data (for example,to  modify the reported page path to include the host name). 

Goals are used to track desired actions on your website. For example,subscribing to your email  newsletter, submitting an inquiry or registering as a member. Goals can be configured inside  Google Analytics and can be based on people traveling to a particular page (or pages), triggering an event, sessions of a certain duration or viewing a certain number of pages.

Google Ads   
Google’s paid advertising platform,allowing you to display ads to people searching on Google,  third-party search sites (Google Search Partners) and browsing websites and using mobile apps  (Google Display Network). Check out our accompanying Google AdWordsGlossary as a reference  for your paid campaigns. 

Google Tag Manager   
A system for managing the deployment of tracking and other tags on your website. Google Tag  Manager allows tags to be tested on your website before being deployed live and is designed to  reduce the dependence on IT for managing tracking tags.   

Is the way data is sent to Google Analytics before it’s processed into your reports. The most  common type of hit occurs when a page is viewed on your website. Hits are also sent to Google  Analytics for other types of interactions, including events. 

You can view your audience’s areas of interest by enabling ‘Advertising Features’ (navigate to  ‘Admin’, then ‘Tracking Info’ and selecting ‘Data Collection’). The categories within the Interests  reports align to the Interest targeting options available in Google Ads.   

Google Analytics provide details about the keywords people use to find your website. The organic  keywords report shows you the terms people used to find your website when clicking on a free  result from a search engine.A lot of organic keyword traffic is shown as ‘not provided’ which  means that the individual keyword was hidden by the search engine (see also not provided). The  paid keywords report shows you keywords from linked Google AdWords accounts and campaign

The part of your website’s URL that identifies where the Google Analytics tracking code was  loaded. For example, if someone viewed then Google Analytics  would report as the hostname. Viewing the hostnames in GoogleAnalytics  can be especially useful if you’ve installed the tracking code on multiple domains (or subdomains).   

Landing Page   
The landing page is the first page viewed during a session, or in other words, the entrance page. It  can be useful to review your landing pages to understand the most popular pages people view as they navigate to your website. This can be used to identify potential opportunities to  cross-promote or feature other content from your website. See also entrance. 

Medium is one of the four main dimensions (along with source, campaign and channel) for  reporting and analyzing how people found your website.Medium tells you how the message was  communicated. For example, ‘organic’for free search traffic, ‘CPC’ for cost-per-click and ‘referral’ for inbound links from other websites.   

One of two types of data that Google Analytics collects, a metric is typically a number, like a count  or a percentage. Metrics are typically presented as columns of data within your reports. Examples  of metrics include page-views, which tells you the total number of pages that were viewed and  users which tell you how many people viewed your website. See also dimension.   

New User  
People that visit your website for the first time in the selected date range. Since users are based  on the Google Analytics tracking code and browser cookies, it’s important to highlight that people  who cleared their cookies or access your website using a different device will be reported as a new  user. See also user. 

Organic refers to people clicking on a free link from a search results page. For example, people  clicking through to your website from a free result on a Google search results page.   

The page shows the part of the URL after your domain name (path) when someone has viewed  content on your website. For example, if someone views then  /contact will be reported as the page inside the Behavior reports.   

Page Value  
Allows you to understand the impact of your website’s pages in driving value based on  eCommerce transactions and goal conversions (where a goal value has been set). Each page that  led to a conversion shares the value that was generated by the conversion.   

Pages Per Session   
A top-level metric for user engagement showing the average number of page-views in each  session.   

A pageview is reported when a page has been viewed by a user on your website. In the Google  Analytics pages report, by default, your pages are ordered by popularity based on pageviews. This  allows you to see which content is being viewed most often. 

Properties are created within a Google Analytics account. Each property represents an instance of  the tracking ID used to collect data from a website, group of websites, a mobile app or the  Measurement Protocol.Each property will include data sent to the associated tracking ID. Once data has been collected it is processed in the reporting view (or views)created under the property.  See also tracking ID. 

Search Query  
The actual term somebody used in a search engine before clicking through to your website.  Depending on the report, the terms can be from paid ads(inside the AdWords reports), or from  Google organic search results(inside the Search Console reports).   

Search Term  
If your website has an internal search function you can configure the Site Search reports to show  the particular terms people are using as they search your website. See also site search.   

Referrals coming from your own website are called ‘self-referrals’. This can occur if there is a page  (or pages)on your website that doesn’t have the Google Analytics tracking code installed.For  example, if a page is missing the tracking code or if your website spans multiple domains. In most  cases, you will want to correct the tracking issue to remove (or reduce) the self-referrals. This is  because a new session is created when someone clicks from the page (or pages) causing the  self-referral.   

A single visit to your website, consisting of one or more pageviews,along with events, eCommerce  transactions and other interactions. The default session timeout is 30 minutes, which means that  if someone is inactive on your website for over 30 minutes, then a new session will be reported if  they perform another interaction, for example, viewing another page. 

Social appears as a marketing channel (in the default channel grouping) in the Acquisition reports  which automatically includes traffic coming from social media, including Twitter and Facebook.  The Acquisition reports also include a dedicated set of social reports to further analyze and report  on the performance of your inbound social traffic.   

Social Plugins  
Google Analytics can be configured to track people engaging with social sharing widgets  embedded within your website. The social plugins report then allows you to report on the pages  people are on when they use your social sharing widgets, the social networks they use and the  actions they’ve taken.   

Source is one of the four main dimensions (along with medium, campaign and channel) for  reporting and analyzing how people found your website.Source tells you where the message was  seen. For example, a source of‘google’ would indicate that someone found your website after  performing a search on Google. Source can be used in combination with medium for more  granular insights, for example, a source of ‘google’ and a medium of ‘cpc’ would be reported for   paid clicks from your AdWords campaigns. See also medium.   

A single purchase on your website reported inside Google Analytics. Each transaction can include  one or more items that were purchased during checkout and each transaction is associated with a  transaction ID which is sent to Google Analytics from your eCommerce system using special eCommerce tracking code. The number of transactions, along with total revenue and eCommerce  conversion rate are generally the primary measures of success for an eCommerce website. Each  eCommerce transaction can include details about the total transaction value, items purchased,  shipping details and more.   

Tracking ID  
In order to send hits to the appropriate property inside Google Analytics, a tracking ID is included  in the tracking code (or Google TagManager tag). The tracking ID starts with ‘UA’, followed by a  series of numbers, for example, UA-123456-1. The number between the dashes is a unique  identifier for the Google Analytics account and the number at the end identifies a property within  the account. See also property. 

Unique Pageview  
Counts a page once even if it was viewed multiple times within a single session. For example, if  someone landed on your homepage, then viewed the‘about us’ page and then navigated back to  your homepage, the homepage would have 1 unique pageview (even though the page was viewed  twice during the session).

An individual person browsing your website (technically, a unique browser cookie). Each user can  visit your website multiple times, for example, 1 user could create 3 sessions on your website, with  each session containing multiple pageviews. By default, each unique browser cookie will be 

Within each Google Analytics property, there are one or more reporting views which contain data  from your website. Views can contain a complete set of data from the tracking code or a subset of  data (using filters).Each reporting view has its own goals and other configurations.

“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”
– WarrenBuffett, chairman and CEO Berkshire Hathaway

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