Chapter 7. Basic Metrics and Concepts

When you begin looking at your Google Analytics metrics, you might find some of them confusing. In fact, some metrics simply make you think, "How in the world did they come up with that number?" It's a problem that's plagued analytics users since the very first analytics applications hit the market.

Understanding just what exactly is being measured (and how) is easily half or more of the process of understanding your visitors' behavior. For example, if you don't know that there are differences among visits, new visits, and unique visits, then you're not going to be able to fully understand how those metrics affect you. What follows is a quick and dirty primer on just what some of the metrics that you'll find in Google Analytics mean.

This is not a comprehensive guide by any means. But it's my hope that when you're finished with this chapter you'll have a clearer understanding of how Google arrives at the metrics that it displays, and what those numbers mean to you as far as building and capitalizing on web site traffic are concerned.

Identifying People and Not-People

Generally, visits to your web site that are counted in Google Analytics are made by "people," meaning actual people (to the best that Google can determine) using web browsers to view your web site. In actuality, Google Analytics counts IP addresses (from your web browser) as people. But there are many visits to your web site that don't actually come from people using a web browser. ...

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