Posted by Chris Handy ● May 24, 2013

Google Analytics Cheat Sheet: Key Visitor Metrics Explained

Visitor Metrics in Google Analytics

To get started on improving your website conversion rates, it is important to understand the basic visitor metrics. Think of this as Visitor Metrics 101.

The below screenshot can tell us a lot about how visitors behave on the website in this case study.

After explaining the key terms, I will provide a brief analysis of the performance of the website, and provide some suggested areas of focus for the future.

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Visits

This one is simple. A visit occurs when someone arrives at one of your website pages, through any means. (We will cover the sources of those visits in a separate article.)

The visit includes all the pages that one person explores on your website during that one sitting, or session. This website received 15,507 visits during this period.

Unique Visitors

A Unique Visitor can initiate multiple visits. 11,449 people generated 15,507 visits in this example. If you visit cnn.com twice, you have generated two visits as one unique visitor.

Pageviews

During any given visit, a visitor might view multiple pages on a website. In the case of eCommerce Analytics, one might visit the homepage, the product page, checkout page, and the thank you page. That would be four pageviews.

Pages/Visit

In the above example, the visitor visited once and viewed 4 pages. So that was 4 pages per visit.

Simple as that.

As you might imagine, the ideal pages/visit number varies based on your website and your unique goals.

For a news magazine whose revenue is driven by advertising, the goal might be to get this number as high as possible. While for a professional services website, one might want to keep as few steps as possible between first contact and their defined conversion. Home Page > About Us Page > Contact Us Page. That's a target of 3 pages per visit.

Average Visit Duration

In this example, the average time spent during each visit is 3:56. You can discern a lot about engagement when comparing this number to the pages/visit metric. By dividing avg. visit duration by pages/visit (3:56/5.94), we learn that visitors are averaging 39.7 seconds per page.

Bounce Rate

I could write a volume on bounce rate. This represents the percentage of people who leave after viewing only one page on the website. At a very high level, this is one to watch. It is representative of the sum total of all the conversion efforts. Always be lowering bounce rate. In my opinion 35.15% is a pretty darn good bounce rate, but we always strive to lower it as much as possible.

% New Visits

This is the percentage of visitors who have not been to the website before. It is important to think about this from the other side as well. How many return visitors do you have. Take a minute to think about why people come to your site in the first place, and what might make them come back. Are you creating compelling, frequently updated content on your blog? Driving more return visits through email marketing or social media marketing? Make sure to segment your list and dive into what drives new visitor traffic compared to return visitor traffic.

Analysis & Recommendation

After reviewing the metrics, it looks like we are in pretty good shape. This being an eCommerce website, increasing pages per visit is usually a good thing. Implementing upsells and cross-sells on each product page may be a good way to add more to each order total. I'd also like to see more of the visitor population come from returning customers. I would recommend implementing inbound marketing strategies including email campaigns designed to encourage return visits. Using social media campaigns, we can also encourage past customers to come back and see what's in stock.

Every website is different, and there is no magic formula, though many of the same ingredients will be found on high-performing websites. These include highly visible and contextual calls-to-action and a focus on sales-oriented copywriting. To learn more about what other elements you will find, download our guide to the five website must haves for driving more traffic, leads and sales.

Next Steps

Would you like to dive in deeper and learn how to drive more traffic leads and sales with your website? Do you need help implementing strategies designed to decrease bounce rate and increase visit duration? Get our free eBook below!

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