What are Visits, Visitors, and Page Views? Google Analytics For Beginners

If you’ve never used Google Analytics before, you might find that there’s a LOT of information to digest. While I’m not going to say that Google Analytics is simple, there’s quite a bit you can learn about your site with an understanding of a few basic concepts.

Let’s start with the relationship between visitors, unique visitors, and page views.

First, let’s grab some sample data from the Spork Marketing analytics account. After logging in, this is what the overview page looks like:

A screen shot of the Google Analytics overview page for the Spork Marketing blog.

A screen shot of the Google Analytics overview page for the Spork Marketing website.

There’s quite a bit of information we can glean from the overview page without looking at any other pages in Google Analytics. Here’s a larger view of the shaded blue section in the image above:

Visitors, unique visitors, and page views.

Visitors, unique visitors, and page views.

Here’s the low-down on these numbers.

  • Visits represent the number of times the website was visited, without regard to repeat visitors.
  • Page views represent the total number of pages that visitors looked at on our site.
  • Visitors represent the number of actual people that visited our site.

SO…for example:

  • If you visit SporkMarketing.com tomorrow and look at our ‘home’ page, our ‘about’ page, and our ‘contact’ page, that would count as 1 visit and 3 page views.
  • If you return to SporkMarketing.com in one week and look at the same pages again, that will count as 1 more visit and 3 more page views. However, it will only count as 1 visitor since it’s the same person visiting twice.
  • If one of your friends visits SporkMarketing.com today and looks at those pages on our site, that will count as 1 visit, 1 visitor, and 3 page views.

So that’s the basics…but what do these numbers mean?

Page views: Generally speaking, you want each visitor to look at as many pages on your site as possible. Depending on the type of website you have, the type of advertising you do, and the type of visitor you have, the average number of page views per visitor can range from our number (which is on the low side) to as many as 40 pages per visit for a site like Craigslist. Google has a benchmarking service that allows you to compare your site to similar sites by industry (more on that later). According to Google, our page views per visit figure of 1.8 is about 10% below average.

Visits versus Visitors: If you subtract the number of visitors from the number of visits, you’ll have an idea of the percentage of repeat visitors we get.

  • Repeat Visitors: 681 visits – 549 visitors = 132 repeat visitors, or about 20%

Keep in mind this is an estimate only – there are a number of factors that can influence this figure that I won’t go into because they’re sort of technical. This 20% figure is lower than average for a similar sized website in our industry (the average is about 35% repeat visitors). Our average might be lower because of all the advertising we do, but it might also mean we’re not doing enough to keep visitors coming back.

What can we learn from these numbers:

  1. Our site doesn’t appear to be as ‘sticky’ as some similar sites in our segment. We know this because our page views per visit figure (1.8) is a little lower than average, and our repeat visitor number is about 20%, which is worse than average as well.
  2. We need more information. All this info has shown us is that we need more info! This is the danger of analytics – the more you look, the more you realize that you don’t have enough data.

I’ll continue to post about analytics on an ongoing basis. Feel free to let me know what you’d like to see next.

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