Google Analytics Web Traffic ReportYou’ve heard time and time again how important it is to track your website traffic. You knew installing Google Analytics was the “right thing to do” but now you’re facing a web traffic report and may not be able to make any sense of it. Frustrated? Not for long!

Let’s review some of the basic visitor metrics and what they mean so you can tackle your next Google Analytics traffic report like a champ, walking away from the report with a game plan and an idea of the strengths and weaknesses of your site.

Visitor Metrics

After signing in to your Google Analytics account, the first screen you’re directed to is the Audience Overview page. This page contains extremely valuable data that allows you to gage the success and performance of your website.

Sessions

SessionsLook for the number in the Sessions panel on the Audience Overview page. In basic terms, that value indicates the number of visits to your site during a given period of time. You can adjust the time frame for the period you want to analyze by clicking on the date bar in the upper right hand corner and entering a date range.

A single session can describe a visitor browsing through multiple pages of your site, looking at events or even making an ecommerce transaction. Ideally, you want to strive for a higher number of sessions because each session represents another opportunity for your business to grow. If Sessions on your site are low you may need to revise your marketing plan to include strategies that attract people to your site, like blogging.

Users

UsersThe Users metric is different from Sessions because it measures the number of people who visit your website. One person can engage in multiple sessions on your website within a certain time frame, but they are only counted as one user.

How does Google Analytics know that the same user is back on your site? With cookie data! Each browser gets a cookie once a visitor has gone to your site. Note: these visitors may have been on your site before the determined time frame. They are not necessarily new users to the site, just unique to the requested time frame.

Pageviews

PageviewsThe next metric in the row is Pageviews. This number indicates how many pages were viewed by the visitors in a specific time frame. When trying to decipher “How engaging is my website?” a higher number of Pageviews typically equals good visitor engagement, however other factors contribute to this which you can see outlined at the bottom of this post.

Pages/Session

Pages/SessionThe Pages/Session metric specifies how many pages a visitor is viewing per session. This number will vary depending on how your website is set up and what sort of content you have to offer. For instance, if your website is composed strictly of five pages your Pages/Session is likely to be fairly low. However, if your website has hundreds of pages because you blog (and each blog post constitutes another page of your website) visitors have more page options and therefore may visit more pages per session.

Average Session Duration

Average Session DurationPerhaps even more important than the number of pages visitors view is the Average Session Duration (ASD). This is calculated by dividing the total amount of time visitors spend on your site by the total number of Sessions. The average time a visitor spends on a site tells you if the content was engaging. That being said, short ASDs hint at a lack of engaging content on your site while long ASDs can be translated to mean you have very engaging content.

But don’t freak out! More than 70% of the websites we monitor have an ASD of 3 minutes or less, averaging 1 minute and 55 seconds. This data can serve as a basis for you to judge whether your ASD is short or long.

Bounce Rate

Bounce RateThe term Bounce Rate may sound intimidating and confusing at first but don’t ignore it. Bounce Rate is reported as the percentage of people who only visited one page on your site before leaving the site. A high bounce rate usually means the content on your site wasn’t what the visitor thought it would be or the conversion path is unclear. With that in mind, if good visitor engagement is your goal, you want to aim for lower bounce rates by possibly making changes to your website.

% New Sessions

New SessionsThe final visitor metric you’ll see on the audience overview of your traffic report is % New Sessions. This is the percentage of new sessions to your site as compared to all of the sessions for the determined time frame.

Off to the right hand side of the page is a pie chart visually displaying the percentage of new visitors and returning visitors. New visitors are good, but return visitors are even better! Returning guests indicate they like something about your website, they are loyal, which means you can usually count on them visiting again in the future.

Measuring for Engagement

Aiming for good visitor engagement is a great website goal to have. To achieve this you’ll want:

  • To increase page views
  • Longer visit durations
  • Lower bounce rates
  • To increase pages per session
  • More return visitors

Check your report again next month and compare the results to this month. Do your numbers increase and decrease where it’s important? If they do, you’re well on your way to maintaining an engaging website. If not, you could try blogging more often or consider consulting with a professional.

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