The next step is to understand GA better so that we can transform it into relevant insight for our business.

This is the part of Google Analytics that I call the practice. To practice, we get familiar with the important terms: the critical metrics and dimensions that you should learn before you are able to read the actual data on GA reports.

This practice will help you get familiar and comfortable with the GA reports that we will cover in performance later on.
Our goal is to translate data into actionable insights. To do that, you need to understand what you’re looking at.

  • Users = Visitors. These are the total number of people arriving on your site or page during a specified time period.
  • New Users = New visitors. These are your site or page visitors who have never visited your site before.
  • Sessions = Visits. Each visit is a new session. If someone arrives on your site, checks out a few pages, then closes their browser window or otherwise leaves your site, that is one session. If they open your site again, that’s the beginning of a new session.
  • Returning Users = Users – New users. These are people who have visited your site before and are now coming back.
  • Pages/Visit (Session) = The average number of pages viewed by people after hitting a particular landing page.
  • Average Visit (Session) Duration = The average total time spent on the website during a session.
  • Bounce Rate = The percentage of visitors that viewed only this page, then left your site without doing anything else.

Metrics in this table are there to describe dimensions.
The above graphic shows what a typical GA report looks like. The terms we just covered will help you understand it.

Metrics in this table are there to describe dimensions.
A dimension can be a traffic source (like search, social media, paid ads, newsletters, etc), or a language (the language of your visitors – note that Google doesn’t actually know someone’s spoken language, but it can know the language setting on their browser), or any other attribute of your site performance.
Looking at the metrics of a dimension gives you valuable insight into your property performance. For example, it can tell you which traffic sources give you the most engaged, high converting visitors, and where you might need to improve (or even cease efforts). You may know that an overall campaign performed well, but drilling down dimensions in GA can tell you which elements performed best. You may find you’re getting significant traffic in a particular language, but visitors are bouncing because your site isn’t optimized for multiple languages. This insight can be incredibly valuable and help you concentrate your resources where they will have the most impact.