Google Analytics

A Comprehensive Google Analytics Glossary: Simple Definitions for Beginners

Need some help figuring out some things in Google Analytics?

If you are learning how to use this powerful tool to analyze the performance of your marketing efforts, some key analytical terms may escape you. We created this straightforward glossary blog post to help you navigate the tool's inner workings and key terms. If you find this helpful, we have detailed blog articles available on the topics mentioned throughout this post. This glossary is intended to be used as a quick overview resource to help you easily find the information you need. All 45 definitions are listed alphabetically for your convenience. 

Key Google Analytics definitions

Account

Your account is your home within Google Analytics that you can use to view your website's analytical data. You access your account with an email address and password that is linked to your online assets. Within the system, you are able to track the website activity collected by Google.

Acquisition

Acquisition is a measurement Google uses to help you understand how viewers find your website. You can view these details within your account by visiting the left sidebar menu within Acquisition, to view the acquisition reports. These reports compile data of the source of your users; whether that be through search engines, social networks, or direct website referrals. 

Active Pages

Active pages gives you insight into real time data of the current user activity on your website. This information is provided on a page-by-page basis. When a viewer navigates to other pages within your site, is redirected externally, or exits the browser, the page that was shown as active will be removed.

Active Users

Similarly to active pages, active users shows the number of users who are currently viewing the website. Website owners can track the exit rate of users to determine areas that need improvement within a given time frame. Data is processed within a few seconds and organized into the Real Time Reports available through your Google Analytics account.

Advanced Segment

This detailed feature allows you to filter data by just about any metric available on the account. Advanced segment sorts and compiles the information of the selected metric from the website's records.

Analytics Intelligence

Google analytics machine learns more about your data over time to analyze the website's trends and changes. The feature also allows the account user to ask relevant questions about the available metrics to find more insight in regards to trends and performance. 

API

API or Application Programming Interfaces are external tools you can use to access data from a Google Analytics account. There is an API for the Core Reporting API to access standard reports, as well as an API for Real Time Reporting API to access live data, an API to access attribution data, an API to embed metadata, and another API to manage. 

App Property ID

An app property ID is a unique identifier for a Google Analytics property. The feature allows analytics and other apps to tell one website apart from another. With this feature, data specific to that property ID can be tracked and viewed in it's google analytics account.

Assisted Conversion

Assisted conversion is a measurement that can show the channels that led to a specific conversion. Site owners can determine the true value of a multichannel strategy by assessing a channel's impact using assisted conversions. This data can be found inside the 'Multi-Channel Funnels' reports. 

Audiences

Audiences is data that tracks a website's viewership. Users of Google Analytics can view a graph with the number of sessions on the Overview tab. Account owners can configure audiences or user type to see more detailed information in your reports. For example comparing the audience data of internet users versus mobile users.

Average Session Duration

Simply put, average time is the data point that measures the median time spent on each individual webpage page. By measuring the difference between the timestamps of hits on each page, Google Analytics determines the total amount, and average time spent on the site.  

Bounce Rate

The bounce rate represents the percentage of sessions that only view one page. The more viewers travel to other pages within the website, the lower the rate. The website's bounce rate can provide the account holder with top-level about its user engagement. 

Campaign Report

The campaign report in Google Analytics The Campaign Report aggregates data about Google Ads campaigns or all marketing campaigns that have a UTM. We highly encourage social media marketing specialists to use UTMs for example. 

Channel Grouping

Channel grouping groups together sources of traffic with similar characteristics. Using it, an account user can better evaluate a website's overall performance because it combines Source and Medium dimensions.  The Google Analytics View settings is where to change the channel groupings.

Cohort Analysis

Cohort Analysis is a report within a Google Analytics account that displays users segmented by a selected date. By tracking user acquisition and returning customers, it provides insight into how the website is being used.

Conversion Path

The conversion path is a metric compiled into the conversion paths report. It shows the paths users take in order to complete a conversion, as well as the total conversions and revenue. The top row of the report shows the performance of the selected conversion types. 

Conversion Rate

A conversion rate is the percentage that represents the conversion average per ad interaction for a website's digital marketing efforts. Depending on the marketing tactic, an account owner may track a single conversion, a conversion per session, or custom parameters in order to track the goal conversion for a specific campaign.

Custom Campaign Tags

Rather than using the default tag data set by Google Analytics, custom campaign tags are parameters that an account can include at the end of URLs to capture details about selected marketing campaigns. This allows the user to track where and how the online link was seen.

Default Dimensions

The opposite of custom dimensions, default dimensions are the set parameters set by Google Analytics to monitor performance. 

Demographics

This information about the age, gender and interests of the users of a site is provided by Google.

Direct Traffic

Direct traffic is one of the default channels in Google Analytics. This could indicate that the person came from dark social, from a bookmark, typed in your domain name directly, or that your tracking code or the UTMs used for tracking purposes don't work. 

Event Tracking

An event is triggered when a user performs an action or interaction that you want to track. Events are listed in an event report in the “Behavior” section within the tool. The account owner must set up the events themselves, this is not a basic functionality.

Exclusion of Bots

The “exclude all calls from known robots” feature helps to combat spam at the view level.

Exit Rate

This metric tracks the number of times visitors have left a site from a single page. This can help account owners to determine the average session duration when put in a custom report with other user metrics.

Filter

Each view can have filters to include, exclude or modify the data that comes in. You can choose to include specific things. The include option is often used when you only want to see the data for a specific section of the site (sub-domain or sub-section). You can also choose to exclude specific things such as traffic coming from certain IPs (office, agency, etc.).

Google Ads

Data from your advertising campaigns on the Google advertising platform can be shared in this report if you connect your two account. 

Google AdWords

Advertisers can use Google AdWords to upload ads to Google's search engine results page on a pay-per-click basis. The top spots of the search results page are ranked according to the keywords businesses target. This marketing strategy can be tracked within Google Analytics using source data and custom reports. 

New vs Known

New users are those who have never visited the site before. They are distinguished from those known on the basis of this criterion.

Not Set

This is a prompt that happens when a selected dimension does not have sufficient data. This may be due to a configuration problem.

Objectives

Objectives are the proof of success for a company (e.g., lead-form completions, purchase, registration, etc.). Objectives must be set up for each view within the tool. You can see the objectives in reports within the tool but also as a column through other Google Analytics reports.

Organic

Organic is a metric that refers to the number of users who use unpaid or undirected links from a free (non advertised) search results pages.

Page View

A page view is triggered when a user visits the web page of a website. It composes a session.

Previous Page Path

This is a data point used to determine which pages are visited before a specific page. It is commonly used in conjunction with "next page path" which shows which pages are visited after a specific page. These dimensions can be seen as a secondary dimension or selected in a custom google analytics report. 

Referral

Users click through to your website from another website through a referral. A referral path allows you to view the different pages that connect with your website specifically.The referrals report  shows you which websites (by domain) are referring traffic to you within a set time period. 

Retention period

The length of time users spend on a website, or specific page over a set period of time. 

Search Console Report

This tool provides statistics about the performance of a site on Google – its positioning on a specific search term, for example. The account user can get more information about the search engine traffic and inbound marketing in this report. 

Secondary Dimension

Acquisition Dimensions, Country Dimension, Geographical Dimensions 

Sessions

A single session is a slice of a user's navigation that may include several page views. By default, it lasts a maximum of 30 minutes. 

Site Search

You can track your internal search activity and know which search query is used on your site. This report provides great insights into on-site user behavior and the percentage of sessions in which users are inquiry about specific information. 

Social Traffic

The amount of traffic acquired to the website asset from a social media link or referal. 

Source

The origin of the users (related to the support) such as social channels, referrals, or a search engine facebook.com, google.com, etc. 

Support

The medium identifies the type of traffic source (paid, social, organic traffic, etc.). Organic is for organic search traffic which means SEO.

Tracking tags

A tracking tag is a piece of code added to a website URL in order to provide richer analytics about web traffic and user behavior. UTM (Urchin Tracking Module) codes are also known as tracking tags.

User

A single user is associated with a cookie. A user may visit a website over the course of several sessions and trigger multiple page views. In default settings, each unique cookie is considered a separate user. Users can be identified by an ID to make tracking individuals more accurate based on the devices they use. 

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