Google Analytics Glossary: Better Understand Your Data

Analytics play a crucial role in any inbound marketing campaign. Even the smallest of companies can use analytics to better optimize their websites for online performance online and organic search results. Google analytics—one of the most popular web visitor tracking tools—comes with its own unique set of vocabulary that is crucial to understand in order to be able to make actionable changes to your online efforts.

We’ve put together this useful Google Analytics glossary to help you understand each and every aspect of the data in front of you—from the simplest of terms like clicks and visits to more complicated advanced segments and regular expressions. Reading and bookmarking this glossary with help you be a more educated marketing professional and teach you to speak knowledgeably about the traffic being sent to your site and how visitors are behaving upon arrival.


Advanced Segments: A feature that allows you to isolate specific types of traffic to your website within your analytics reporting. For example, mobile traffic, new users, bounced visits, etc.

Alerts: A custom feature that you can generate to notify you when visitors perform a certain task or reach a certain goal. You can also set alerts on a broad scale, for instance, when traffic spikes or drops by a certain percentage.

Annotations: A note-taking feature that allows you to record when changes to the website were made. For recording purposes only.

Benchmarking: A service that compares your website’s metrics with other websites of similar sizes and industries. This data gives you an idea of how you’re performing relative to the average business in your category.

Bounce Rate: The number of people who visit one page of your website and immediately leave (click back to the results page or close the browser) without visiting another page. Not to be confused with exit rate.

Branded Traffic: The traffic that arrives at your website by people searching for you using your brand’s name and other brand-related terms. (You’ll have to set up a custom reports to display this type of traffic.)

Click: The action a web visitor takes to travel to your website or to another page of your site.

Cookie: A small piece of code that remembers visitors and their preferences within your website. Can apply to visitors’ experiences when returning to your website and even their experiences on other websites (via advertising).

Conversion: The completion of a goal. A web visitor completes a goal that you’ve manually set up within your website’s analytics platform.

Click-through-rate: The number of clicks your website receives in search engine result pages divided by the number of impressions your listings get.

Custom Reporting: An analytics report that you can create to include only the information you want to see.

Custom Variable: A custom report that shows visitor activity in segments that you create by modifying the analytics tracking code.

Dashboard: The “homepage” of the analytics platform.

Direct Traffic: Traffic from people typing your URL directly in the web browser. Also a measure of traffic where the tracking source is lost.

E-commerce: Or electronic commerce, it signifies the analytics data that’s dedicated to tracking visitor actions within your website’s shopping cart or other commerce area of your website.

Engagement Rate: The length of time (measured in time intervals) a visitor spends on your website.

Entrance: Pages where visitors entered your website from outside sources. The homepage is usually one of the pages with the highest number of entrances.

Event: An action you are tracking on your website. An event can be any action you wish to track, but it is usually reserved for actions that don’t lead someone to a specific URL. In other words, event tracking is often used for actions that occur within one page. Examples of events are downloading a file or playing a video.

Exclude: A filter that excludes a piece of data when it meets the qualifications.

Exit Rate: The percentage of people who leave your site after looking at a particular page. Users may have visited several pages prior to exiting, which is what differentiates exit and bounce rate.

Filter: A display of information according to specific criteria you select.

Funnel: The visualization of the steps users take leading up to a goal completion on your website. Funnels are useful when attempting to see where people are abandoning your goal.

In-Page Analytics: A visual report that gives you an assessment of how visitors interact with your website. Things like user experience, organization of content, answering user questions, and what links are being clicked the most often can all be seen and understood through this feature.

Impression: When your website appears in search results for a particular query.

Include: A filter that includes a piece of data when it meets the qualifications.

Keyword: The word or query that users use to search for websites in search engines.

Goal: Actions you want visitors to take on your website that are usually tied to a specific URL. Common goals include tracking form submissions or making purchases.

Goal Conversion Rate: The number of visits that include conversions divided by the total number of visits.

Goal Flow: A visual report that shows the path that visitors take along their way to making a conversion on your website. This report helps you track the multiple steps that occur before conversions take place and better predict how to optimize your website to increase conversions.

Landing Page: The page a visitor lands on when they click through from the search engine results pages.

Medium: The type of traffic within a particular source that traffic to your website originated from.

Metrics: Individual pieces of data that can be measured. Page views, gender, and visit duration are all metrics.

Users (formerly “New Visitors”:): A user who visits your website for the first time or a returning visitor that has deleted his or her browser history, cleared its cache, or previously visited the website in a private browsing mode.

Non-Branded Traffic: Traffic that arrives at your website using words and phrases that are not your brand name. Ideally, this non-branded traffic would be a high volume of people arriving to your website using your keywords.

(Not provided): Search information that is now blocked in analytics reports because users are logged into their Google accounts while searching, using a particular web browser, or searching on a secure page. Google decided to withhold this information due to privacy concerns for users, but some industry experts claim it was also done to increase people’s participation in AdWords campaigns, where keyword data is provided.

Organic Traffic: Traffic to your website that arrives from people clicking your website’s listing in organic search results.

Paid Traffic: Traffic to your website that arrives from people clicking your ads in the search engines.

Pageview: The number of pages a visitor views over the duration of their visit to your website.

Parameters: Sometimes referred to as UTM parameters, parameters are tags added to the end of URLs in order to better define and track from what source traffic is coming to your website—or a particular webpage. Most often used for ads or links from social assets, parameters allow you to measure the effectiveness or tweets, Facebook posts, pins, Google+ updates, or any ads you have online.

Referral Traffic: Traffic to your website that arrives from a third-party websites like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc.

Regular Expressions (Regex): A sequence of characters that forms a search pattern in computing. It’s mainly used for finding matching patterns or strings of code. You can use Regex in analytics platforms to search for a particular piece of content or to be part of a custom filter or segment.

Query: The word or phrase a user enters into a search engine to find your website.

Tracking Code: The snippet of code that needs to be inserted into thesection of every page of your website that you want to display analytics data for. For more information on how to do this, see Google’s helpful walk-through.

Traffic: The term used to describe the action of visitors coming to your website.

Screen Resolution: Dimensions that define what screen size users are using when visiting your website. This helps decipher what types of desktops, laptops, and mobile devices are being used when visitors reach your site and can help you optimize the structure of your site to better serve the most popular dimensions.

Search Traffic: Traffic to your website that comes from any search engine (Google, Bing, Yahoo!, Duck Duck Go, etc.).

Site Search: A search feature within your website that allows visitors to search your entire domain for certain keywords and pieces of information.

Source: Where the traffic to your website originated.

Visitors: The number of individuals who viewed your website. One visitor can visit your site multiple times, so you will never have more visitors than visits.

Visitor Flow: A report that visualizes the path visitors took through your site, starting with the source it arrived from and ending with the page it either converted on or exited from. While the visual representation is sometimes overwhelmingly complicated, when broken down, it provides crucial information on how visitors are interacting with each page and gives direction on what portion of the website you should turn your attention to next.

Sessions (formerly “Visits”): The number of times people viewed your site. Not to be confused with visitors.

Uniform Resource Locator (URL): The location (or address) where websites and their pages can be accessed on the Internet.