Google Analytics is a robust tool that provides users with the ability to view and manage site visitor data. A challenge many Google Analytics users face is that it is often difficult to see the forest for the trees –so many features in one place can be overwhelming.
And at the heart of the struggle is the language; many website owners don’t know how to fully utilize the tool’s advanced features because they’re not familiar with some of the terms.
This comprehensive Google Analytics Glossary of terms aims to change that. This glossary contains all the terminologies used to define important features of this important tool.
Some may be surprised to learn that many of the intimidating-sounding terms to follow have very simple functions. Terms that once held you back from using Google Analytics might even become your favorite feature!
Understanding the true potential of Google Analytics will empower users to craft a direction and a strategy for their online properties, bringing them one step closer to success.
Let’s explore the Google Analytics terminology and find out the definition for each one.
- AdSense Reports
- Advanced Segment
- Assisted Conversion
- Average Session Duration
- Bounce Rate
- Calculated Metric
- Campaign Name
- Campaign Tags
- Channel Grouping
- Content Grouping
- Cost Data
- Custom Dimension/Custom Metric
- Custom Reporting
- Custom Segment
- Data Import
- Data Set
- Device Category
- Dollar Index
- eCommerce Conversion
- Engagement Rate
- First Interaction (or First-Click)
- Goal Abandonment
- Goal Completion
- Goal Completion Location
- Goal Conversion Rate
- Goal Flow
- Goal Value
- Google AdWords
- Google Analytics
- Google Data Studio
- Google Optimize
- Google Tag Manager
- Intelligence Events
- Landing Page
- Last Interaction (or Last-Click)
- Local Product Revenue
- Lookback Window
- Measurement Protocol
- New User
- Not Provided
- Not Set
- Page Impression
- Page Value
- Pages Per Session
- PII (Personally Identifiable Information)
- Percentage of New Sessions
- Previous Page Path
- Product Performance
- Referral Exclusion
- Referring Sites
- Regular Expression
- Return Visit
- Revenue Per User
- Roll-up Reporting
- Search Console
- Search Engine Traffic
- Search Query
- Search Term
- Site Search
- Social Plugins
- Spam Referrer
- Time on Page
- Time on Site
- Tracking Code
- Transactions Per User
- Unique Pageview
- URL Builder
- User (Website)
- User (Google Analytics)
- User Explorer
- User Flow
- User Identifiable
- UTM Tag
- Webmaster Tools
An account is at the top-level hierarchy of Google Analytics. This is your access point every time you wish to see the analytics of your website. If you run multiple websites, make sure to create an account for each. Aside from your website, you can add other properties in each account such as a mobile application, blog, etc.
Acquisition refers to reports that provide you an overview of how you are acquiring visitors to your website. Under acquisition, you can get more specific details like search engine traffic, direct traffic, conversions, and more.
AdSense shows you the amount of money your site has made in Google AdSense ads.
Advanced Segment is used to isolate data based on specific metric characteristics. For example, you can set it up so you only see data from visitors in the United States. Other ways you can segment data using Advanced Segment is by age, gender, interest, technology, behavior, date of first visit, and traffic sources.
Alerts (Custom Alerts) are notifications from Google Analytics which tells you if there is a possible issue with your account based on the Google Analytics paradigm.
Google Analytics allows you to create annotations to indicate when changes to your site have been made. This makes it easy to track your site’s performance after tweaks have been implemented.
API lets you access your data from Google Analytics outside its default interface. APIs for reporting and configuration in Google Analytics include:
- Core Reporting API – for customized reports
- Real Time Reporting – for accessing reports on activity happening on your website right now
- Multi-Channel API – see traffic sources that lead to a conversion
- Embed API – for creating and embedding dashboards on 3rd party websites
- Metadata API – for accessing lists of API dimensions, metrics, and their attributes
- Management API – lets you view and manage accounts, properties, filters, views, uploads, etc.
This is a summary of how different traffic sources contribute to a conversion. To fully utilize Assisted Conversion, you need to set up a goal first. You want to provide Google Analytics with data to compare with your referrals’ performance.
Attribution refers to the touch points a user goes through before a conversion. Google Analytics provides a variety of attribution models which allows you to determine the value of traffic channels that lead to a conversion.
Average Session Duration
This refers to the average time in minutes a user spends on your site. Users who bounce or leave your site after viewing one page are also accounted for in this average.
Audience Reports gives you more details about your audience such as demographics, interests, and technology. This tells you whether you are reaching the right people with your marketing efforts.
Behavior Reports tells you how visitors interact with your website. Here, you can determine what pages they engage with the most, the paths they follow, and the searches they do on your site. You can tweak your site accordingly to increase visitor interaction.
Benchmarking lets you compare data from your Google Analytics with other websites who have opted to share their data. This gives you an idea of how you are doing in comparison to other companies in your industry.
Bounce refers to a visit that has only one page view with no action taken by the user.
The Bounce Rate refers to the percentage of users who exit your site after viewing only one page. They enter and exit on the same page without any type of interaction.
Calculated Metric lets you create new data based on the available data on Google Analytics. You can perform very basic calculations like addition, subtraction, multiplication, or division.
If used correctly, Calculated Metric can bring you valuable data that gives you a better view of your site’s performance.
For example, if you want to know the rate of which a user converts into a goal, simply create a Calculated Metric which divides Goal Completions by the Number of Users.
A Campaign Name is a label that helps you to distinguish different campaigns (email, ads, app ads, etc.). This is ideal if you run multiple online campaigns and you want to know which campaign generates the most revenue.
Campaign tags are extra parameters that help you track URLs. These trackers let you know where the URLS were seen and how they were shared. This also gives you a closer look at how effective your marketing efforts are for each campaign. Campaign tags can be specified by campaign name, source, medium, term, and content.
Channels group your data based on the common sources of traffic like social, direct, organic, referral, email.
Channel Grouping combines data from multiple traffic sources and allows you to view data organized by channel name, campaign name, medium, or traffic source.
A Click is when a user clicks on a hyperlink to your website.
Content Group refers to a collection of content that you have organized based on a structure that makes the most sense for your site. It allows you to view aggregated data so you can perform top-level analysis on your content.
For example, if you run an eCommerce website, you can make Content Groups base on the type of clothing so you create Content Groups for Women’s Dresses, Children’s Footwear, Men’s Pants, etc. Another example, if your site is about self-help, you can create Content Groups based on categories like Relationships, Productivity, Lifestyle, Health, etc.
This is the percentage of visits that result in a conversion. It means that a page has fulfilled its purpose whether it’s to let the user purchase a product, complete a form, or sign up for a newsletter. Measuring Conversions helps you determine whether your marketing efforts are working or not.
Cost Data refers to cost data that you can upload on Google Analytics to keep track of external paid campaigns that are not associated with Google.
CPC stands for Cost Per Click and it refers to the type of traffic coming from paid advertising, Google AdWords and other forms of paid search traffic.
Custom Dimension / Custom Metric
Custom Dimension refers to additional data that you can configure in Google Analytics. For example, you can set up a custom metric which shows the category of pages with the most views, so you have a better idea what topics are doing really well.
Custom Reporting refers to a report that you can generate based on dimensions and metrics that you have chosen.
Custom Segment allows you to filter data in your reports. Some of the ways you can segment data include: Visitor Type, Demographics, Device/Browser Used, Paid Traffic, Location, and Traffic Source.
Dashboard is the default interface you see when accessing Google Analytics.
Data Import lets you upload external data and combine it with data from Google Analytics. Types of data you can import on Google Analytics include Refund Data, Product Data, Geographic Data, Content Data, Cost Data, Campaign Data, User Data, and Custom Data.
Data Set refers to the container that holds the external data you upload on Google Analytics.
Demographic refers to the information and gender trends of your audience.
Device Category lets you view your site’s performance based on different devices (desktop, mobile, tablet, etc.) See also Technology.
Every Google Analytics report comes with dimensions and metrics. Dimensions are attributes that give you a better idea of who your users are and how they interact with your website. Google Analytics allows you to add a secondary dimension to your primary dimension on Google Analytics.
For example, if your dimension City, you can add secondary dimension called Browser. This shows you then the number of visits you get from a specific city as well as the browser used by those visitors to access your site.
Direct refers to visitors who go to your site by typing in your URL or via a bookmark. These are users who already know your site and keep coming back for more because they like your stuff. Direct traffic could also come from users who have heard of your site through word of mouth and other offline campaigns. If you see a big spike in direct traffic, it could mean that one of your offline campaigns is doing really well.
Sometimes, Direct traffic could also just be traffic whose code couldn’t determine a source. This could be because of the site or the browser in which case, links won’t show the referrer and it’ll be labeled as Direct.
Dollar Index refers to the measurement of a page’s likelihood for leading to conversion. A higher number means that a page is frequently viewed before visitors make a purchase or convert. See also Goal Value.
eCommerce lets you know the percentage of visitors who make a purchase from your website.
The eCommerce Conversion is very handy if you run an eCommerce site. It allows you to view data such as the number of products sold, how much money was spent by each visitor, and more. Based on this data, you can identify what marketing method best works on your audiences.
Engagement Rate refers to the duration of a session measured in time intervals.
Entrance refers to the number of times a user has visited your site from a specific page or set of pages.
Events allows you to track other types of engagement such as downloads, video plays, mobile ad licks, etc. An Event requires custom implementation so you may need to hire a coder to help you set this up.
Exit point refers to the last page that a user viewed on your website before leaving.
Filters lets you include or exclude data shown in the reporting view.
First Interaction (or First-click)
First Interaction is an attribution model for conversions which gives credit to the first touchpoint a user encountered before converting.
Goals are activities that you want a visitor to do when they visit your site. Goals go hand in hand with conversions. If a visitor fulfils a goal that you have set up, it counts as a conversion. You can set up goals that best fit your site’s objectives whether it’s to download a PDF, purchase a product, fill out a form, or sign up for your newsletter.
Goals that are destination or page-based can be set up to include additional pages that lead to a conversion. If a user views one of these pages but don’t convert, it is called Goal Abandonment.
Goal Completion refers to an event where a user converts for a particular goal. Multiple completed goals occurring in one session (30 minutes) will be counted as one conversion.
Goal Completion Location
Goal Completion Location refers to the specific page where a conversion occurred. This is helpful if you have the same conversion goals set up on multiple pages on your site.
Goal Conversion Rate
Goal Conversion Rate refers to the rate of conversions made from the total number of sessions or visitors.
Goal Flow is a visual representation of the path a user takes before making a goal conversion.
Goal Value refers to the monetary amount assigned to a goal. Each time a goal is completed, this dollar amount is recorded and calculated in your reports as part of the Goal Value. See also Dollar Index.
Google AdWords is Google’s paid advertising platform where you’re able to display paid search ads by bidding on certain keywords.
Google Analytics is a free online website analytics tool by Google which lets you track and report site traffic. Data gathered from Google Analytics provides you with insight on user site behavior and helps you to modify your marketing efforts accordingly.
Google Data Studio
Google Data Studio lets you turn Google Analytics data into easy-to-understand reports. You can choose how you want to present the data whether it’s through charts, line graphs, bar graphs, diagrams, and so on. This allows clients and stakeholders to understand how their site/campaign is performing.
Google Optimize allows you to do A/B testing on your site’s content to see which type provides the best results (engagement, conversions, etc.)
Google Tag Manager
Google Tag Manager lets you track tags on your website and see if they work on your website before going live.
Also called a page hit, this refers to an interaction which is recorded and sent to Google’s servers. Types of hit include event tracking hits, eCommerce hits, page tracking hits, and social interaction hits.
Hostname refers to the website URL tracked by Google Analytics. If someone visits your site https://www.abcdefg.com/about-us, the hostname would be www.abcdefg.com
Impression refers to any instance where a link or ad from your site is shown in a search engine or web page.
Intelligence Events are alerts from Google Analytics which lets you know there was a significant change in traffic or user behavior on your site. Some of these alerts are automatic while others, you can set up yourself.
Interests lets you know about the other niches that your visitors are engaging with. This gives you a better idea of topics that your audience is interested in.
Keywords refers to the terms that people type in on search engines before landing on your website. Most organic keyword traffic will show as “not provided” which means that the individual keyword is hidden by the search engine. This is a result of users searching on Google through a secure connection (https://www.google.com). However, the “not provided” list is lifted for paid search results.
This is the first page a site visitor sees when they arrive on your website. They fulfil a single objective and are often implemented in marketing campaigns. A site can have multiple landing pages that encapsulate your business goals.
Last Interaction (or Last-Click)
The Last Interaction refers to the last thing a user did on your site before they converted. This gives you an idea which pages on your site are doing well in completing a conversion.
Local Product Revenue
The Local Product Revenue refers to the local currency of a transaction.
The Lookback Window refers to the period of time after a user visits your site and during a conversion. It can track AdWords between 7 to 90 days and Google Analytics for up to 6 months.
Measurement Protocol is used by Google Analytics to collect data from all connected digital devices without the need to use a tracking code or a tag manager. With Measurement Protocol, you’re able to send data from a point of sale system in a store, an interactive kiosk, or anything that is not a website or mobile app.
Medium refers to the dimension of which your website was found by a user (organic, referral, CPC, etc.)
Metrics are data that Google Analytics collects. Page views, sessions, location, browser, users, pageviews are examples of metrics you can find on Google Analytics.
This refers to a user who has visited your site for the first time. This means that Google Analytics found no cookies in their browser when they hit the first page of your site. If a return visitor deletes their cookies but visits your site again, they are counted as a new visitor. You can compare New User data with Return Visits to see if your site is able to garner loyal viewers.
This is search data that is not available in Analytics if a user accesses Google through a secured connection (https://www.google.com). Google’s official reason for doing this was for the privacy of users who do not want their search term to be passed on to the destination website. See also Keywords.
Not Set indicates that a particular piece of information is not available in the report. This could either be due to the limited data set up in Google Analytics or it could be a limitation on the user’s end.
Organic refers to traffic that comes from natural, non-paid search engine query results.
Page refers to the URL slug that comes after your domain name. If a user views pages https://www.your-website.com/blog and https://www.your-website.com/about-us, it will appear as /blog and /about-us in the reports.
Page Impression refers to a page that was loaded or reloaded by a user.
Page Value refers to the average value of a page that a user visits before making it to the goal page or completing a purchase. It helps you to identify pages that contribute to your site’s revenue. Page Value is computed by dividing eCommerce Revenue + Total Goal Value with the Number of Unique Pageviews for a given page. If a page receives visits but doesn’t end up in a transaction or a purchase, then that Page’s Value is $0.
Pages Per Session
Pages Per Session measures the number of pages a user viewed in one single session. This tells you how well your site can hold a visitor’s attention.
Pageview tells you how often a specific page is viewed. When a visitor hits the back button, hits refresh, or opens a page in a browser (regardless of whether it’s been cached or not), it is recorded as a Page View. You can use this data to determine how well each page on your site is performing. You can then find identify common elements that make a page successful or unsuccessful.
PII (Personally Identifiable Information)
Personally Identifiable Information refers to personal details (email address, full name, etc.) which you are not allowed to collect in Google Analytics based on their Terms of Service.
Paid refers to traffic that comes from paid search results like Google AdWords and other online advertising platforms. See also Google AdWords.
Percent of New Sessions
Percent of New Sessions refers to the rate of new visits on your site. This lets you know if your marketing efforts are working to attract new people.
Permission refers to the access levels in Google Analytics: Manage Users, Edit, Collaborate, and Read & Analyze. See also User (Google Analytics).
Previous Page Path
Previous Page Path shows you the page viewed by a user before jumping to another page within a session. This gives you a better idea of how users navigate between individual pages of your site.
Product Performance refers to the data of your products in terms of economic performance. This includes data like revenue, conversion rate, average order value, and more.
Property can be a website, mobile application, or device that exists within an account. An account can contain one or more properties and each comes with its own unique tracking code that identifies data from that property. This makes data easily identifiable in Google Analytics’ reports.
Quantity refers to the number of products a user has purchased in each eCommerce transaction.
Real-Time reports let you monitor sessions and events on your website as they happen in real-time.
Referral traffic lets you know which sites are sending traffic to your website.
Referral Exclusion allows you to exclude a referral from being recorded as a new session. This is useful especially if some activities on your site require the user to leave temporarily to perform an action, like say, make a purchase using Paypal.
Referring Sites refer to the websites where visitors found your website. This means that your website was not found on search engines but from a page that contains the link to your website.
Regular Expression (or Regex)
Regular Expression is a pattern of text that is used to find data that match the specified criteria. Regex is used in Google Analytics for filters, goals, segments, and more.
Return Visit tells you how often people come back to your site within a set period of time. You can set it up to see how many return visits you get within 24 hours, a week, a month, or longer. More Return Visits usually mean that people are interested in your content or offer.
Revenue refers to the total amount of money made from transactions on your website. It’s important to have an eCommerce tracking code for each page that has revenue potential so you can accurately compute your Total Revenue. You can also configure the tracking code so that it also records other figures like shipping and tax.
Revenue Per User
Revenue Per User is computed by dividing the Total Revenue with the Number of Users. The quotient is the average revenue generated for each user.
Roll-up Reporting is the act of combining data from different properties and putting them into one report.
Sampling is the act of taking a smaller set of data from a large data selection and then using that information to analyze as benchmark for the whole. This is usually done to help speed up the processing of reports.
Search Console is a free Google service that lets you monitor your site’s SEO performance in Google Search. You can link your Search Console to your
Google Analytics to gather additional data about your SEO performance.
Search Engine Traffic
Search Engine Traffic refers to traffic that comes from any search engine including organic and paid search traffic.
Search Query refers to the terms that visitors typed in the search engine before they found your website in search results and clicked through it. You can view Search Queries for AdWords (paid) and Search Console (organic).
Search Term refers to the terms that visitors use when using the internal search function on your site. See also Site Search.
Google Analytics’ default shows you metrics for all users who visit your site. With Segment, you can view traffic based on certain criteria (demographic, device used, location, etc.)
Self-Referral occurs when you receive a referral from your own page that doesn’t have a Google Analytics tracking code. If a user visits another page of yours from a page (still yours) that doesn’t have a tracking code, it’s counted as a new session. Find out which pages are giving you self-referral so you can provide it with the appropriate tracking code.
A session refers to a user’s activity during each visit. By default, Google Analytics sessions timeout after 30 minutes so anything that a user does on your site within 30 minutes counts as one session.
Site Search is an internal function on your site which allows users to search it using a specific term/s. Google Analytics lets you view what these terms are through the Site Search Report. Here, you can also view which categories and pages users start with and the percentage of sessions where visitors used search.
These are referrals from social networks. This includes social platforms like Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Reddit, Instagram, Google+, LinkedIn, YouTube, and StumbleUpon.
If you have social sharing widgets embedded on your site, users can easily share/like/comment on your content through their social network accounts. The Social Plugins report shows you this data and indicates which social network they engaged with on specific pages/posts.
Source tells you how a visitor got to your site and through what medium. Examples of sources include social (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest), email (Gmail, YahooMail), and organic (Google, Yahoo, Bing).
Knowing where your traffic is coming from helps you to refine your marketing strategy. This allows you to strengthen your efforts in channels that bring you the most traffic and engagement.
Spam Referrer refers to a fake traffic source designed to dramatically increase a site’s search ranking. Any site that can benefit financially (affiliates, internet marketers, SEO webmasters) can send fake traffic to your site. You can block these referrers using custom advanced filters so they are not counted as hits in your Google Analytics.
Technology tells you what devices, browsers, and networks your visitors are using to access your site. You can then optimize your website to respond well to such technology so the user experience is enhanced.
Time on Page
Time on Page refers to the time a visitor spent on one page before they went to another page on your site. Google Analytics cannot track Time on Page for pages that were closed.
Time on Site
Time on Site refers to the time a visitor spent on your site. It doesn’t matter if the user viewed pages from different tabs. It simply computes the difference between the time of the last page visit and the first page visit.
The Tracking ID is a unique identifier for your properties which allows Google Analytics to assign hits appropriately to the right property. A
Transaction ID looks something like this UA-12345678-1. The number between the dashes is the unique Tracking Code.
A Transaction is recorded in your Google Analytics every time a user makes a purchase on your website. Each transaction has a unique transaction ID which includes details like items purchased, total amount of purchase, shipping details, and more. This helps you to determine which pages/products/services are providing you the most revenue.
Transactions Per User
Transactions Per User is computed by dividing the number of transactions by the number of users. This gives you an idea how well your site is doing with regards to eCommerce transactions.
Unique Pageview is an alternative to basic Pageviews. It combines multiple views of the same page as one if it was viewed by the user within one session. For example, if Jimmy viewed one page of a site and then went back to that same page later two times within one session (30 minutes), it is counted as one Unique Pageview only. See also Session.
The URL Builder lets you add custom campaign tags to your URLS so you can track each unique link for each of your campaigns. See also Campaign Tags and UTM Tag.
Users refer to the number of unique visitors on your site. Repeat visitors are only counted as one so let’s say Jimmy visits your site 50 times, he is counted as one unique visitor. This means that one unique visitor can have multiple sessions on your site.
Users are defined by a unique ID which is usually stored in a user’s cookies. If Google Analytics cannot locate these cookies in a visitor’s browser, it will create a new ID for that user. This lets you see the true number quantity of your audience and helps you to determine whether your marketing efforts are helping to increase that number.
User (Google Analytics)
A User in Google Analytics refers to those who have access to one of the four permission access levels to an Account: Manage Users, Edit, Collaborate, and Read & Analyze. You can add a User using an email address that’s registered with Google. See also Permission.
User Explorer shows you how users navigate and interact with your website based on multiple sessions. It’s able to do this using a cookie ID created in the browser that the visitor is using to view your site.
Users Flow shows you how users navigate and interact with your website. This gives you an idea on the journey that a user takes when they arrive on your website or before they convert.
UTM Tags are a string of parameters added at the end of every URL to indicate in the analytics report which specific campaign the link belongs to.
Google Analytics lets you see multiple views of reports based on filters and configuration that you have set up. When you add a property into an account, Google Analytics, by default, provides you with all the data unfiltered. You can later create additional views with filters that include a specific set of data you’re interested in.
Webmaster Tools is the former name of Google Search Console.
While I hope that I’ve clarified the complex beast that is Google Analytics for everyday use, I invite you to contact me if you have further questions related to your own account or campaigns.
Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments!