Google Analytics Terms & Definitions

The following terms and definitions will help you better understand the data being collected for your site in Google Analytics.

Not sure how to interpret your data? We can help.


Users: People who engage with your site or app over a given date range. This is typically what people mean when they say “visitors.”

Sessions: A session is the period of time a user is actively engaged with your website, app, etc. All usage data (Screen Views, Events, Ecommerce, etc.) is associated with a session. A session is ended after 30 minutes of inactivity or when a user exits your site. One user can have multiple sessions with your site over time.

New Session: A new session is a visit from someone who has not been to your site before.

New vs Returning Visitors: New visitors are users that have not visited your site before. Returning visitors will have made at least one visit to at least one page on your site previously.

  • Google Analytics uses cookies (tracking data downloaded to a user’s computer) to detect previous visits. If Google cannot detect a cookie, one will be placed on the users browser, as long as the user has not disabled cookies in their personal browser preferences.

Average Session Duration: The average length of a session, from when a visitor lands on their first page on your site to when they leave.

Average Time on Page: Average Time on Page represents the average amount of time in seconds a visitor spends on a particular page.

Page: A “page” in Analytics is a specific URL with the Analytics tracking code installed. When you’re looking at page metrics, you’re looking at the metrics for that URL regardless of how and when a visitor got there (as opposed to “landing page” metrics, which only show metrics for that URL when it’s the first page viewed.)

Landing Pages: Landing pages are the pages on which a visitor first “lands,” whether they came from a search engine, social media, an email, or another traffic source. A landing page is the first interaction a visitor has with your site and helps you identify what content is bringing people in.

Pageviews: The total number of times a page was loaded. If a user views the same page multiple times during a session, each separate view is added to the total pageviews. Note that pageviews is a count of viewed pages and not individual visitors (“users”).

Unique Pageviews: The unique pageview is the count of all the times the page was viewed in an individual session. If a visitor only viewed the page once, or if they viewed it five times during their visit, the number of unique pageviews will only be counted as one.

Pages/Session: Pages/Session is the average number of pages viewed during a visitor’s time on your site (or “session”). Repeated views of a single page are counted in this number.

Bounce Rate: The percentage of single-page sessions in which there was no interaction with the page. In other words, the bounce rate is the rate at which visitors land on your site and leave without clicking or engaging in any way. A high bounce rate typically tells us visitors aren’t finding what they need.

Keywords: A word that is used as a reference point for finding information, typically through search engines.

Direct Traffic: One of Google’s defined Traffic Channels, Direct Traffic refers to visitors to your site who typed your URL directly into the browser. Direct Traffic can also include people who came through a bookmarked page or through a link in a difficult-to-track medium (like a text message).

Email: This Traffic Channel refers to visits from email platforms or email marketing. This can include the emails you’ve sent out and those sent by others.

Organic Search: This Traffic Channel refers to users who came to your site through unpaid listings on search engines like Google or Bing.

Paid Search: This Traffic Channel refers to visits acquired from paid advertising platforms like Google AdWords, Bing, and Facebook ads.

Social: This Traffic Channel refers to visits from social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Referral: This Traffic Channel refers to visits that came through links to your site on external, third party websites.
Other: This Traffic Channel refers to visits that Google has a hard time identifying and categorizing.

Events: Events are user interactions with content that can be tracked independently from a web page or a screen load. Downloads, mobile ad clicks, gadgets, Flash elements, AJAX embedded elements, and video plays are all examples of actions you might want to track as Events.

Event Tracking: The process of tracking specific user interactions with particular content, content types (such as video) and identified individual or organizational goals.

Campaign Tracking: In its broadest definition, campaign tracking refers to a method of identifying how users discover your site. Specifically, you use campaign tracking in Google Analytics to accurately track online advertising campaigns to your website, both from AdWords-generated campaigns as well as from other advertising sources.

Goals: Goals can be set up in your Google Analytics account to monitor the conversion rate of the different activities that you want your users to take. Activities may include a visitor making a purchase, signing up for an email newsletter, or downloading a white paper. You can also assign a monetary value to each goal completion to help determine the return on investment from your website.

UTM: Urchin Tracking Module (UTM) parameters are five variants of URL parameters used by marketers to track the effectiveness of online marketing campaigns across traffic sources and publishing media. Your UTM parameters help Analytics categorize visits that come through your campaign links.

Want a printable version of these definitions? Download the full glossary here.

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Written by Dylan Stone

“I make the most of every opportunity.”