Viewing website analytics can be a time consuming and daunting task, especially if you are new to the analytics realm. However, every company regardless of size should use the FREE service Google Analytics. You do not have to be a marketing genius to understand the numbers and the impact they can have on your company.
Below are some basic terms and explains to help you get acquainted with your website numbers.
A pageview is counted each time a page from your site is loaded by a browser (Google Chrome, Firefox, Safari, or any other internet browser). Pageview count can be misleading because if a person is viewing the page, hits referesh; this now counts as two page views. Another example is if a person is viewing one page, goes to a second page and finally returns to the first page, this counts as three page views.
Pageviews help to understand if your site has good content and for you to know if a person is visiting one page and bouncing (leaving) or are they looking around your site to find additional content.
Unique Page Views
Unique pageviews aggregates pageviews that are generated by the same user during the same session (see definition of a session below). A unique pageview is the number of sessions during which that page was viewed one or more times. So if a person views the same page twice (or more times) during an individual session, unique pageviews would only count that pageview once.
A visit is when someone lands on your website from a referring source outside of your website domain (such as a google search). Typically, an analytic tool will only count a visitor one time, even if they visit multiple pages within the same session. This is why pageviews are usually higher than visits.
A session is a group of user interactions with your website that takes place within a given time frame. A single user can open multiple sessions. Those sessions can occur on the same day, or over several days, weeks, or months. As soon as one session ends, there is then an opportunity to start a new session. There are two methods by which a session ends:
After 30 minutes of inactivity
By default, sessions in Google Analytics last 30 minutes, but you can adjust this length to last just a few seconds or a few hours at a time.
If a user arrives via one campaign, leaves, and then comes back via a different campaign.
Generally speaking, the campaign updates anytime the user arrives at your site via a search engine, referring website, or campaign-tagged URL. Direct traffic, however, never updates or replaces an existing campaign source such as a search engine, referring site, or campaign-tagged information.
New vs. Returning Users
This is a statistic that can found within your Google Analytics and it shows the ratio of new to returning users by the number of sessions and percentage of sessions. A new user is someone that has never been to your before, whereas a returning user has visited your site in the past. The purpose of this metric is for you to get a sense of how well you are retaining your current visitors while attracting new visitors.