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Google analytics glossary

Analytics reports can help you understand how your web content is performing. Here are some common terms used in Google Analytics reports.

Dimension vs metric

Most of the measurements in Google Analytics come in a dimension-metric pairing.

A dimension describes what happened, a metric tells you how much or how often it happened within a specific time period.

For example:

Dimension Metric
Pageviews 1,067
Average time on page 1:55

Bounce

A “bounce” means someone visited a single page on your website and left without interacting with it.

  • Bounce rate: The percentage of bounces out of all visits to your website. For the education sector, anything below 60% is considered good.

Entrance

The first page someone views during their visit to your website is an “entrance”. 

  • Entrance rate: For each page, this tells you what percentage of visits started with that specific page. 

Event

An “event” is a specific interaction with your website/page. This could be clicking a link, scrolling down the page, watching a video, downloading a document, etc. 

Each event typically has three parts (dimensions): 
  • Event category: Often similar events are grouped together into categories, such as “Documents”, “Links” “Scroll”, etc. 
  • Event label: For links, this is usually the visible text the user clicked on. 
    • E.g. “Learn more about Orange Shirt Day at UVic.” 
  • Event action: What happened when the action was taken.  
    • E.g. “Clicked to https://www.uvic.ca/event/orange-shirt-day/" 

Exit

The last page someone views during a single visit before leaving your site is an “exit”. This happens most often when someone follows a link to another website.

  • Exit rate: For each page, this tells you what percentage of visits ended with that specific page.

Medium

Often paired with “source”, the medium helps categorize the types of traffic your site receives.

  • E.g. Email, Organic (search), Social, Newsletter, Referral.

Organic (traffic)

Any traffic that came through a non-paid source would be considered “organic”. This is to differentiate it from paid traffic sources, like sponsored social media posts or Google AdWords.

Pageview

Each time a web page is viewed, it counts as one pageview.

  • Unique pageview: Unique pageviews are counted once per visit (session). If the same user returns to the page during the same visit, it will only be counted in the “total” pageviews. 

Referral

Traffic that came to your site from a link on a website that isn't part of www.uvic.ca.

Includes external sites like Twitter or Maclean’s. Can also include traffic from other UVic subdomains, like banner.uvic.ca, events.uvic.ca, etc.

Session

A session is a single visit to your website with one or more pageviews, plus some sort of event (interaction).

The session times out (automatically ends) after 30 minutes of inactivity. This means if someone is inactive on your website for over 30 minutes, Google considers that session over. If they interact with the site after 30 minutes, a new session will be tracked.

Source

Traffic source of a visit to your website. Could also be part of an offline campaign source, such as a custom QR code on a postcard or flyer.

  • E.g: Google (search), Twitter, Outlook (email).

Additional resources

Interested in learning more about Google analytics? Check out the full Google Analytics glossary of terms, or enrol in the Google Analytics Academy.

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