Terms and Definitions


Before we can make sense of the various reports that google analytics generates, we’ll need to understand some basic terminology.

Date Ranges

Most reports are shown for a given date range, for the report in the next section, I will use the last 30 days.


You can think of a user as a visitor to your site but that may not be completely accurate.  A visitor is actually a device (laptop, tablet, mobile phone) that accessed the website. So if one person accesses the website via a laptop and then via their phone, that would count as two users. The exception to this is if the user is logged on to their google account on both devices, it’s possible for Google analytics to reconcile those two accesses and make them count as one.

New Users

A new user is a user who has accessed the site for the first time in a given date range. The new visitor/returning visitor ratio will change if the date range is extended.


A session starts when a user lands on a page and continues if they access other pages on the site. A session will end in the following circumstances:

  • The user exits the site by viewing a page on another site
  • There is a period of 30 minutes inactivity
  • The time strikes midnight which will cause the existing session to end and new one to start for any further page accesses.

The time spent on the last page is not counted as part of a session.

Bounce Rate

Percentage of single page sessions. So if a user hits a given page and doesn’t view any other pages on the site, that counts as a bounce.

There can be valid reasons for this, perhaps a user searched for information, found the page with the information they wanted then they leave, that counts a bounce even though

If on the other hand you find a given page has a high bounce rate compared to the average for the site, it can be worth checking the page to see that it’s complete and well designed and you may also want to check that the source that generates the traffic to that page is landing on the best page for those users.


Google Analytics can also be customised track specific events occuring on the site know as ‘Goals’. These can include viewing a specific page, downloading a particular file or completing a particular form.

A goal – Is an action we define like viewing 5 or more pages, buying a product, completing a form.

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