Introduction to Google Analytics: Visits, Visitors and Bounces

4 December, 2012

Google Analytics is a powerful tool for understanding who and how visitors are using your website. But for most website owners the array of features and tools that Analytics offers can be mind boggling. For that reason we’re producing a series of blog posts to help you get the most from Google Analytics: Introduction to Google Analytics. For those engaged in any online marketing or SEO, it’s doubly important to get the most from your Analytics.

So let’s get started by looking at some Analytics terms that are used regularly but are seldom understood:

  • Page Views
  • Visits
  • Unique Visitors
  • Pages /Visit
  • Avg. Visit Duration
  • Bounce Rate
  • New Visits

Understanding what these terms actually mean is important to take full advantage of the features Google Analytics offers, so let’s take a look at each.

Page Views

Let’s start with Page Views. Many people talk about how many “hits” a website gets. A “hit” is simply a file request made to the website server. This is a pretty useless metric that Google Analytics does not measure. Instead Google uses the term “Page View”. Every time a page is opened in a browser, weather it has been cached or not, it generates a page view. If someone hits the back or refresh button, a page view is counted as long as the tracking code is installed on the page in question.

Google Analytics Page Views


Each visit by a person can consist of multiple page views. And a single person may have multiple visits over days or months. Once a website visitor closes the browser, the visit is considered over. Google Analytics focuses heavily on visits.

Google Analytics Visits

Unique Visitors and New Visitors

When a website is visited Google Analytics sets a cookie with a unique ID in the visitors browser. When someone visits your website, Analytics scans for this cookie to determine if this is a “Unique Visitor” or a “Returning Visitor”. If no cookies are found a new ID is set. It’s important to note that a user who clears their cookies, uses multiple browsers or shares a computer will show up inaccurately. The percentage of “New” visitors are also calculated this way.

Google Analytics Unique Visits

Bounce Rate

A well crafted advertisement or strategically placed link can generate a lot of traffic to a page. However, once visitors reach your page, tracking how they interact with your website is a very important key feature of Analytics. A visitor who lands on your website, views only one web page and then leaves is called a “Bounce”. Generally a bounce occurs when someone comes to your website and either 1) immediately finds what they want and then leaves or 2) think the page/site is not relevant to their needs and leaves.

Google Analytics Bounce Rate

Pages Per Visit and Average Visit Duration

Pages/Visit is the average number of pages visited divided by visitors. In other words the Pages/Visit statistic displays the average number of pages viewed per visit to your site. Repeated views of a single page are counted in this calculation. This metric is useful both by its self as a total and when viewed with other measurements, such as country, visitor type, or mobile operating system.

Google Analytics Pages Per Visit
Average Visit Duration is the time difference between when someone viewed the first and last pages in a visit. Google Calculates the average visit duration by adding the total amount of time available during the date range you specify and dividing that number by the total number of visits. For Example:

  • Total Visits Duration: 1000 minutes
  • Total Visits: 100
  • Average Visit Duration: 1000/100 = 10 minutes

Google Analytics Duration
Now you know some basic terms and how they relate to Google Analytics. Check back soon for more in-depth articles on traffic sources, conversion and mobile visitors.

By Scott Evans
As co-founder and Director of Gorilla 360, Scott has spent the last 12 years helping businesses grow through smart digital marketing.
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