Introduction

Wondering why Google Analytics is so important? Google Analytics is an absolute necessity if you want to measure the performance of your website and definitively know if your marketing efforts are working or can be improved upon. But, which Google Analytics metrics are the most important?

There are many to choose from, but we’re going to be focusing on the essentials. The metrics listed below will get you where you need to be! By the end of this article you’ll be given the tools to learn:

  • Which cities and countries your website audience is coming from
  • Which of your webpages are the most popular
  • How many individuals are visiting your website every day, week, month, and year
  • How many pages are they looking at after they land on your website, a.k.a. Your websites Bounce Rate, and more! 

If you don’t currently have a Google Analytics account set up and need to learn the basics you can visit the article, What’s Google Analytics + How to Setup and Install (With Examples!)

What Is a Metric in Google Analytics?

A metric is a quantitative measurement of something. That something can be the total number of pages viewed, the total number of visitors to a website or the amount of time visitors spent on your website during a specified period of time.

All of these are metrics that can be analyzed in the Google Analytics platform. We’ll go over each of these metrics more in depth below, but for now it’s important to have a firm grasp over what a metric is and how it can be used in data analysis.

What Are the Most Important Google Analytics Website Metrics That Matter?

The most important Google Analytics website metrics to track are: Click on any of the metrics above to be taken to that section of the article or keep reading to learn more!

Users and New Users What Are Users and New Users in Google Analytics and Where to Find Them?

First, let’s talk about how to find the Users and New Users metrics on the Google Analytics platform. To access the Users and New Users metrics:

  • Once you’ve logged into your account click Audience on the left hand side of the screen
  • Next, click Overview which will be a sub-category of Audience

It’s on this page where you’ll see a few of the essential metrics we’ll be going over below. Two of those are Users and New Users.

Users is a measure of all visits to your website over a specified timeframe from all devices. New Users is a measure of all visits to your website from unique devices. Your Users metric will almost certainly be higher than your New Users metric since it includes repeat visits to your website from the same device whereas New Users does not.

How Does Google Analytics Calculate Unique Visitors?

To determine the difference between Users and New Users, Google creates “…a unique identifier associated with each user…” that’s sent out with each website hit. Simply put, Users is the total number of times all computers, tablets, and mobile devices have visited your website. This includes repeat website visits from the same device. Whereas the New Users metric tells you all the website visits from different unique identifiers.

For example, if Sarah in New York City visited your website once on her computer she would be given a unique identifier and be counted as one New User. If Sarah later visits your website again from her computer, and let’s say throughout the evening, she visits your website on three separate occasions. Now, Sarah would count as one New User and also four Users. That’s because she visited your website four times total, but since it was from the same device and that device was given a unique identifier on the first visit, she was only counted as one New User.

 Why Are Users and New Users Important Metrics to Follow

Users and New Users are arguably the most important metrics to follow. They tell you how popular your website is and the percentage of repeat visitors your website is seeing. It also tells you if your marketing efforts are working.

These metrics are the heartbeat of your website since these metrics help to put into perspective how well your website is doing and how enjoyable visitors are finding your website to be. If visitors keep coming back or if they don’t, either way, having that information is necessary if you want to continuously improve your website and your business.

Pages / Session
How to See Pages per Session in Google Analytics?

Pages / Session is an incredibly useful metric to monitor in Google Analytics. Pages per Session tell you how many of your websites pages are being viewed on average, during a specified period of time. This information is important to have because it’s telling you if visitors are clicking over to other pages on your website after landing on your website and if they are, how many pages are being viewed on average.

Having a high number of pages per session tells you that visitors are finding the content on your website useful and interesting enough that they’re clicking over to other pages on your website to learn more about your business and your brand.

To view the Pages / Session metric in Google Analytics.

    • Log into your Google Analytics account and click Audience on the left hand side of the screen.
    • Next, click Overview which will be a sub-category of Audience. Pages per Session will be located on this page.

How Does Google Analytics Count a Session?

According to Google, “A session is a group of user interactions with your website that take place within a given time frame.” Sessions begin when a visitor lands on your website and can end in a couple of different ways.

A session can end by the visitor closing the browser window, by visiting a new website, or after 30 minutes of inactivity. For example, if a visitor landed on your website, but then remembered they had to walk the dog and left their computer open for an hour, then that “session” would have ended after 30 minutes since the person wasn’t active on your page. Active meaning clicking on any elements or visiting any other pages.

Two other ways sessions would end would be by accessing your website in different ways. For example, if one visitor went to google.com and searched for Dog Collars, visited your website, left and then later that day clicked on an ad you were running for Dog Collars, then that visitor would have started and ended two sessions. Lastly, all sessions for a single day end at midnight.

Pageviews
How Do I Get Google Analytics for a Specific Page?

If you think of Users and New Users metrics as telling you how your website is doing as a whole, you can think of Pageviews as a zeroed in version of that information. Pageviews will tell you exactly which pages are being visited the most across your website and exactly how many times they were visited during a specified timeframe.

How to See Pageviews in Google Analytics?

  • To access the Pageviews log into your Google Analytics account and click Behavior on the left hand side of the screen
  • Next, click Overview which will be a sub-category of Behavior. Pageviews will be located on this page.

*If you’re looking at the information under Pageviews and notice that you’re not seeing every single page on your website, that’s because Pageviews will only show you the pages that were actually viewed by a visitor. If no one saw a certain page on your website during the timeframe you’re viewing the data in, you won’t see that page listed in the Pageviews section.

Why are Pageviews an important metric to monitor?

This metric is important because of a couple of different reasons. Firstly, it tells you which pages are coming up in search engines or otherwise being placed in the line of sight of your visitors. It’ll also give you a comparative look at different pages.

By noticing that one blog post for example is seeing a ton of traffic, while another blog post you wrote around the same time isn’t doing as well, now you can play detective and try to figure out why?

Is one blog post significantly lengthier than the other? Is one genuinely more interesting and helpful to visitors than the other? Is there a difference in the pagespeeds between the two blogs? Does one have images and a video whereas the other one only has text? These are just a few of the factors that could influence page performance, but Pageviews will give you a look into the health of individual pages across your website which will inform future decisions.

What’s the Difference Between Sessions and Pageviews in Google Analytics?

A good way to remember the difference between Sessions and Pageviews is to think of Sessions as, let’s say a mall, and the Pageviews are all the stores that shoppers visit in the mall, on average. Sessions, or the mall in this example, is pretty much a visitor landing on your website, like a shopper entering a mall. Pageviews are all the pages, or stores in the mall, that website visitor visited, during that session.

The metrics in Google Analytics are averages, but I think you get the idea!

Average Session Duration

What Does Session Duration Mean?

Average Session Duration is a metric in Google Analytics that calculates the average length of time visitors are spending on your website. The reason it’s one of the most important metrics in Google Analytics is because it tells you how much visitors are essentially enjoying your website.

Think about it, what do you do when you land on a website you really like? You click around to other pages, learning more about that business and how they can benefit your life in some way. If your website isn’t doing that, there’s a problem, and this is the metric that will let you know!

To view the Avg. Session Duration metric in Google Analytics:

  • Once you’ve logged into your account click Audience on the left hand side of the screen
  • Next, click Overview which will be a sub-category of Audience and Average Session Duration will be one of the metrics on this screen.

How Does Google Calculate Average Time on Page?

This article, directly from Google tells you exactly what formula Google uses to calculate average time on page a.k.a. Average Session Duration.

To calculate average session duration, Analytics sums the duration of each session during the date range you specify and divides that sum by the total number of sessions. For example:

Total Session Duration: 1000 minutes (60,000 seconds)

Total Sessions: 100

Average Session Duration: 1000/100 = 10 minutes (600 seconds)”

As you can see, Google takes the entire length of time for all the sessions your website saw during a specified period of time and divides that number by the number of sessions to give you the average session duration. You’re not looking at the average session length for one visitor, it’s all the visitors during a specific time frame divided by the number of visitors.

With this metric, you learn how much time on average visitors are spending on your website. There are endless uses for this information and luckily for us, Google makes it really easy to learn!

Bounce Rate
What Is Bounce Rate and How to Check Your Bounce Rate

To view your Bounce Rate:

  • Once you’ve logged into your account click Audience on the left hand side of the screen
  • Next, click Overview which will be a sub-category of Audience. Bounce rate will be on the right side of the screen.

Bounce rate according to Google is “…a single-page session on your site.” Basically, it means a website visitor landed on one of the pages on your website and didn’t click over to any other pages. So, that one visitor essentially “bounced” off of your website.

Now, it doesn’t mean they landed and immediately left, they might have read that entire page and then left. To figure out how long visitors are staying on your website on average, you’d check the Avg. Session Duration metric. To learn more about Avg. Session Duration, scroll up or Click here.

How Is Google Analytics Bounce Rate Calculated?

Here’s the formula Google uses to calculate bounce rate:

The number of all visitors that landed on the website and only looked at one page ÷ All sessions = Bounce Rate

To learn more about sessions, either scroll up to the Pages / Sessions section, or Click here.

For example, if you had 50 sessions where the website visitor only looked at one page, but the total number of pages per session is 100. Your total pages per session metric would include the 50 sessions where the visitor only saw one page and didn’t click over to any other pages. So that equation would be:

50 ÷ 100 = 50, so here your bounce rate would be 50%, meaning half of your total visitors are seeing only one website page whereas the other 50 are viewing more than one page.

Audience Demographics: Country and City

Our last important metric to monitor will tell you who your audience is and where they’re located. Knowing this information will help you target cities and countries where you’re seeing the most traffic which can be especially useful information to have when running advertising campaigns.

To view the Avg. Session Duration metric in Google Analytics:

  • Once you’ve logged into your account click Audience on the left hand side of the screen
  • Next, click Overview which will be a sub-category of Audience and Demographics will be one of the metrics on this screen. You may need to scroll down just a bit to see it.
  • Under the Demographics section you’ll see LanguageCountryCity.
  • By clicking Country or City, you’ll see the percentage of website visitors who have visited your website from specific countries and cities.

*BONUS: By clicking view full report in the bottom right hand corner of the City and Country Demographics tables, you’ll be able to see the Users, New Users, Sessions, Bounce Rate, Pages / Session, and Avg. Session Duration metrics for those specific Cities and Countries.

Conclusion

You made it! You’re now able to keep track of some really important and helpful metrics that will help inform future website and marketing decisions. Being able to make data-driven decisions will help you save time and will certainly help your business grow and improve more and more over time!