19 Essential Google Analytics Definitions That You Need To Know

Is it just me or is Google Analytics getting brought up in more and more meetings?

You too?

Well, I did us both a favor and dove into the world of analytics.  What I came back with is a cheat sheet of all the buzz words that aren’t self-explanatory.

Whether you’re a pro or just trying to keep up with the times, it’s important to know the lingo. Check out these Google Analytics definitions and be prepared for your next meeting or report.

1. Tracking code

It all starts with the tracking code.  In order to get your website or app to know where to send data, a little snippet of javascript called the tracking code must be copied and pasted in your code base.

2. Account / Property / View

The hierarchy of a Google analytics account contains 3 levels.  Most users will only have one account, one property, and a few views.  In simplest terms, the property is the container for your data and views are ways to look at that data.

3. Session

Simply a page visit.  As long as the user is still interacting with your site the session will keep going, but after 30 minutes of inactivity the session ends.

4. Goals and Conversions

Each view can have 20 goals defined which could be a user visiting a certain page, clicking a button, or spending a set amount of time on page.  When one of these goals is met it is called a conversion.

5. Bounce Rate

When a session only contains one page view, it is counted as a bounce.  The bounce rate is the percentage of sessions that are bounces.

6. Landing page/ exit page

The landing page and exit page might be self explanatory but I added them anyway.  The page a session starts on is its landing page and the page a session end on is its exit page.

7. Funnel

A series of pages that leads to a goal, think of an ecommerce checkout flow from the view cart page to the billing info page and so on.  Setting up a funnel is useful for knowing where users drop off.

8. Acquisition

This is how users found your site.  More specially, the page the user was on before coming to your site.  Whenever you use a search engine or click on an ad, the link you are following has extra data in it that tells the site where you came from.

9. UTM (Urchin Traffic Monitor)

In the acquisition definition I mentioned that extra data is attached to a link in ads and search engines, this extra data is the UTM.  If you’re tasked with making the UTMs for an ad or email, here’s a helpful tool https://ga-dev-tools.appspot.com/campaign-url-builder/ 

10. Channel

The way a user found your site is called the Channel.  Organic, search, and referral, are some examples of default channels, but custom channel types can also be created.

11. Direct traffic 

When a user comes to you site by using your exact URL.  Meaning there is no UTM data.

12. Search traffic

If a user comes to your site through a search engine, it is reported as “Organic Search” or “Paid Search.”  

13. Referral traffic

If a user comes to your site through a third-party website, it is reported as a referral.

14. Source/medium

A more granular way to look at your acquisition channels.  The source is the url of the third-party site or search engine the user came from, and the medium is similar to channel type.

15. CPC (Cost per click)

As well as an acronym used to measure your ads, it is also used to differentiate between organic search and paid search when looking at source/medium.

16. Engagement

Used in a lot of way in reports and metrics, it’s another ways to say time.  For example page engagement is the length of time a user was on a page.

17. Events

Custom interactions on your site can be tracked as events, like playing a video or clicking a button.  Events need to be setup, usually in your website’s code.

18. Dimension

When reading a report, the items on the y-axes are called the dimensions.  For example, the Acquisition overview report dimensions are the different channels (Direct, Referral,Organic Search, etc.)

19. Metric

When reading a report, the x-axes items are the metrics.  These are usually counts or percentages, like in the Acquisition overview report they are the Sessions, % New Sessions, etc.

Before you go…

Now that you know the basic jargon and definitions, you should be able to join in on all that Google Analytics talk at your next meeting!

If you’d like to learn more about using Google Analytics, checkout these free video courses

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