Web Analytics – Definitions

If you've run a website for some time you've probably wondered just how successful it is. While some measures based on sales and registrations can point you in the right direction, other statistics need to be mined from your web server's log files. These log files track every hit to a website and when pieced together, can offer insights about your website's recent and historical activity.

Before diving in to the myriad of calculations you can do, let me first provide some definitions. All of these numbers should be available from your web hosting company or from third-party web analytics software such as NetTracker, WebTrends, or ClickTracks.

Page Views

This is the number of times pages have been viewed by one or more users. If a user views 5 pages, then the total page views is incremented by 5. If 2 user view 3 pages each, then the total page views is incremented by 6.

Visitor Sessions or Visits

This is the number of visits made by one or more users. If a user visits to the site today and then visits the site tomorrow, that is considered to be 2 visits. If a user visits the site today and continuously clicks around for 5 hours, that is considered 1 visit regardless of the number of pages viewed. However, if a user visits a site, closes their browser or doesn't interact with it for some time (usually 20-30 minutes), the next time they interact with the site, it will be counted as another visit.

Unique Visitors

The number of new users coming to your site. This is based on a cookie that is stored on the user's computer. The number can be skewed by users that don't accept cookies or routinely clear their cookies. When a user first (as in first time ever) comes to a site, the unique visitor count is incremented by 1. If that same user comes back tomorrow and next week, that is still treated as one unique visitor. By definition, the number of unique visitors can't exceed the number of visits.

Visitors Who Visited More than Once

The number of visitors who came back to a site after their initial visit.

Top Entry Pages

The list of pages that users usually come in through. For commerce sites, this is often the home page. For content sites, this can be the homepage or category pages.

Single Access Pages

The list of pages that users looked at and then left the site.

Length of Visit

This is the duration of time that has elapsed between a users first click on a site during a visit and the last click.

Number of Pages Viewed

In a given visit, a user will view 1 or more pages. That number represents the number of views.

If you run an e-commerce website you should also be aware of total sales, total orders, marketing expenses, existing customer orders, and average gross margin. I won't define them here since I'm sure you know what they are given the nature of your website.

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