Today, I want to discuss what your analytics measurements actually mean. We talk about how important they are all the time, but let’s get into what some of these terms tell you about your site. A stronger understanding of your analytics makes you a more powerful blogger. Brands want these numbers and your media kit should have (some of) them, and they also provide valuable clues to reader behavior and engagement that can help you improve your content.
Here’s an introductory cheat sheet of analytics terms every blogger should know:
Visits: This number tells you how many your site has total, over the specified period of time. Because this number is so general, it is not often used in determining the health of your blog or audience trends.
Unique visitors: This is the number of individual (unduplicated) visits to your site in the given time period. This is a key number for your media kit as well as for brands to get a sense of the visibility of your blog. Usually they will ask for your UMV, which is unique monthly visitors. (To get this number, set your time period for the past 30 days.)
Pageviews and unique pageviews: Your pageview count represents the total number of pages viewed, including repeated views of the same page. Unique pageviews means the number of visits during which the specified page was viewed at least once. Also, note that a “page” is anything on your site: slideshow clicks, individual posts, your homepage or any other pages like “About,” “Contact” etc.
Bounce rate: This percentage represents the number of people who, when entering onto any page on your site then exited from that same page, without clicking over to any other content or pages. A lower bounce-rate is always desirable because it means that more visitors are looking at more content than the page they started on (which means they like it!).
Search traffic, referral traffic and direct traffic: When you look at that nice colorful wheel on your Google Analytics “Traffic Sources” overview dashboard, it divides your visits into different kinds of traffic. Search traffic represents the percentage of visitors getting to your blog using search engines. Referral traffic represents visits that arrive via a link from somewhere else online, like Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest or a blogroll. Direct traffic comes from literally a direct source, like a bookmark, a link someone sent you or from typing the URL into your browser.
Keywords: These are the words and phrases that people are typing into search engines for which the results are leading people to your blog. If you look at the “full report” of your site’s keywords, you can see the bounce rate for each one. A lower bounce rate would indicate that people who found your blog through this keyword found what they were looking for and stayed on your site. That’s good, and those keywords have more value for you.
Landing page & exit page: This is the page (URL) that people are arriving at, through search, referral and direct traffic. You can find your top landing pages in your site content dashboard. The exit page is the last one the visitor sees before moving on.
Audience demographics: This map and the chart below show you where in the world your visits are coming from, and can be viewed by country, city, continent or even sub-content region (like North America or Eastern Europe).
Also: note that these terms are generally similar for different analytics tools – whether you’re using the “stats” feature on your Blogger / WordPress site or using Google Analytics. This is of course not an exhaustive list of all the measurements you can explore in regards to your blog’s content, traffic and audience. These are the first important pieces to understand as you grow your blog.