Google Analytics – What Are Metrics?

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Think of Metrics as measurements.  Within Google Analytics reporting you are able to review many of the key metrics.  You are even able to customize the default reports to display metrics of your choosing or compare one metric to another.  We will begin by defining the common metrics available on most Google Analytic reports.  Here are the metrics that are displayed from the Audience Overview report.

Metrics Used in Google Analytics


Let’s discuss what each of these metrics means.

  1. Sessions – The total number of sessions within a given date range.  In the screen shot above, the date range is from January 1, 2016 until November 13, 2016.  A session is a period of time a user is actively on your website reviewing pages.  In the example above, there were 6,664 active website sessions over 10.5 months.  This number does not translate to website visitors as a visitor could establish several sessions with your website over an extended period of time.
  2. Users – The total number of users (visitors) that have had at least one session on your website.  Users includes new as well as returning visitors. If you want to know how many people have viewed a website page, this is the metric to use. In the example above, there were 4,791 users accessing the website over the 10.5 month period.
  3. Pageviews – The total number of pages viewed.  If a page is viewed multiple times during a given session, it will be counted multiple times.  In the example above, there were 13,635 pageviews during 6,664 sessions by 4,791 users.
  4. Pages / Session – This is the average number of pages viewed during a session. This measurement is a good indicator of the engagement of your website.  It helps to answer the question “Is your website holding the attention of a website visitor?“.  On average, an engaged user will view at least 2 pages during each session.  Some visitors will look at 10 pages while others will view only 1 page but the objective is to have the overall average at about 2 pages/session.
  5. Avg. Session Duration – The average duration of a session within the given time frame.  The average session duration is also another good measurement to see if your website users are interested in your website content. On the internet, a visitor spending an average of 2 minutes within a website session is considered highly involved with the website content.  Two minutes doesn’t seem like a long time but you would be very surprised if you timed yourself when you are surfing the internet.  Generally, you land on a website to find an answer to your question or review a product they are selling.  If you don’t find that information immediately, likely you will leave the site.  Even if the information is not easy to locate, generally, individuals won’t spend much time looking for it – maybe one minute.  So visitors spending, on average, 2 minutes on the website are engaged in the information presented.
  6. Bounce Rate – A bounce is calculated when someone only views one of your website pages and leaves the website without engaging (clicking) any items on the page or any other pages on the website.  The bounce rate is the percentage of single-page visits. We expect all websites to receive a substantial number of single-page visits.  You might be going to the website to determine the correct address or phone number or hours of operation.  If this information is readily available on the home page, which it should be, the user will likely bounce off the website to use the contact information they have just acquired.  These types of site bounces are valid and expected.  However, if you have detailed information about one of your products or services and it is receiving a 90% bounce rate, you will want to investigate that page further to determine why people are not staying on the page. In general, we would like this bounce rate to be less than 50%.
  7. % New Sessions – This is an estimate of the percentage of first-time visits to the website.  This metric helps you to gauge if your are attracting new visitors.

Other Metrics

There are a few other metrics that you will find on other Google Analytic reports such as; Average Time on Page, Entrances and %Exit.

Other Metrics for Google Analytics

Here is further information about each of these metrics.

  1. Average Time on Page – The average amount of time a user spent reviewing the content of a website page.  This metric is very useful when analyzing if individual reading your blog posts or reviewing your product information.  You will see from the data above three of the website pages are engaging visitor for for over 3 minutes (3:05, 7:31 and 13:49).  These are great averages, especially when calculated over a couple hundred pageviews.
  2. Entrances – The number of times users started viewing your website from the specified page.  This metric will demonstrate how people are entering your website.  We like to think everyone hits the Home page first then navigates through your website in a logical order but that is not how the internet works.  Individuals can land on an inner website page and review many pages of your website without ever visiting your Home page.  This is something to keep in mind when developing a website.
  3. % Exits – The percentage of Exits is calculated by dividing the number of exits / number of pageviews .  An exit is tagged to the last website page viewed during a user’s session.


Dimensions are the various ways to group your metrics.  For example, the URL of a website page is a dimension.  Other dimensions are; website browser, website visitor’s physical location and website visitor’s device to name a few.  The default reports created within Google Analytics have preset dimensions and metrics. However, like the date range,  all of these dimensions and metrics can be customized to answer your specific business question.

Geo Location Data from Google Analytics

Here are a few of the most useful dimensions.

  1. Location – Google tracks the regional location of the website user.  You are able to determine the country, region (state/province) or city of a given visitor.  This allows you to conduct location analysis of your website traffic.  Are your website visitors primarily from Canada or BC or some other region?  You can also research if your website gets more visitors from Burnaby or Surrey.  Geographic location of your visitors very useful information for the development of future marketing strategies. In the example above, we can see that 33.64% of traffic is coming from Delta.  The site visitors from Delta are viewing, on average, 2.85 pages/session and they are spending over 3 minutes on the website.  This is highly engaged traffic.
  2. Source – Not only does Google know where your visitor is sitting, they also know how your visitor just arrived at your website.  This information enables you to analyze the source of your website traffic.  By reviewing the source dimension, you can see if a specific visitor to your website clicked on a Google search result or clicked on link to your site found within another site (known as a referrer) or came to your website through a paid ad.  This is very valuable data for strategic growth of your website and future marketing initiatives.
  3. Device – Google also can track the type of device that is being used to view your website. From this data, you are able to produce reports that indicate whether the person viewing your website was sitting at a desktop or laptop computer or were they using a mobile device like a tablet or smart phone.  You are even able to determine the specific type of mobile device used.  This information allows you to answers questions such as “Are there more people coming to your website using an iPhone or an Android device?” or “Are more users viewing my website with an iPad or a desktop device?“.
  4. Browser – While tracking the device that visits your website, Google can also track the browser or operating system used by the given device. This will allow you to analyze the number of website visits from Chrome browsers vs. Firefox browser vs. Internet Explorer browsers.  This dimension can even tell you what version of the given browser was used.  This type of data can help you to determine if a majority of your website users are using newer or older browser versions.  This is helpful information when a website is being redesigned or if you are trying to prioritize the importance of certain browser display issues.

Where To Go From Here

A wealth of information is available once you add Google Analytics tracking code to your website.  By taking a few minutes to understand the metrics and dimensions of the data collected, you will be a long way ahead of your competitor.  From the Google Analytics data, you will be able to answer business questions that allow you to develop strategies and objectives to improve your products, services and processes for future business growth.

Review further articles within our Google Analytics series:

Google Analytics – Many Answers – Learn how to use Google Analytics reporting to answer the important business questions.





Building Successful Web Strategies

Building Successful Web Strategies