The fields of digital marketing and analytics have introduced a host of web analytics terms that we have to understand to fully comprehend the metrics we measure daily. A complete grasp on these terms helps us better evaluate our website performance and make strategic decisions for our businesses.
Whether you are a marketing professional that’s been tasked with implementing fully integrated, data-driven marketing, a small business owner looking to boost the visibility of your site on the web, or just dipping your toe into all this web analytics stuff, there is a basic understanding you need to possess to progress.
This complete glossary serves as a firm foundation for your growing web analytics prowess, and can continue to provide great reference any time you find yourself asking, “What does that mean again?”
Click on any of the following categories to skip and view specific web analytics terms:
Alexa Rank – an estimate of how popular a site is relative to all other sites. Rank is calculated using a combination of average daily visitors and pageviews to a site over the past 3 months. The site with the highest combination of visitors and pageviews is ranked #1. It is updated daily. (read more)
Bounce rate – The percentage of visitors to a particular website who navigate away from the site after viewing only one page.
Conversion – the point at which an activity or response to a call to action fulfills the desired outcome (i.e. subscribing to a newsletter or purchasing a product)
Data – facts and statistics collected for reference or analysis.
Data visualization – a form of visual communication that represents data in forms that is easy to understand (often charts or tables) and allow for analysis and reasoning about said data; visual representations of data
Hit – also called a page hit, the retrieval of any item (image, page) from a web server
Impression – the number of times a piece of content (like an online advertisement) is seen; the views.
Keyword – in search engine optimization, the particular word or phrase that describes the contents of a web page. Keywords serve as clues or shortcuts that summarize the content of a page and help search engines match pages with searches.
New visitor – visitors who have reached a site for the first time. This is important in comparison with return visitors as an indication of loyalty and site value.
Organic search – describes search that generates results that are not paid advertisements
Pageviews – the instance of an Internet user visiting a particular page on a site. A pageview is recorded whenever a full page of your website is viewed or refreshed.
Pageviews per visit – the average number of pageviews per visit over a given time period
Returning visitor – a visitor who can be identified with multiple visits, through cookies or authentication
Unique visitor –the number of distinct individuals who request pages from a website during a specific period, no matter how many times they visit
Visitor – also called a unique visitor; an individual visiting a website during a period of time
Visits – the number of times a site is visited, no matter the number of unique visitors that make up those sessions
Web analytics – the measurement, collection, analysis, and reporting of web data for the purposes of understanding and optimizing web usage; the study of web usage behaviors
Load time – the average amount of time in seconds that it takes a page to load from initiative of the pageview (i.e. click on link) to completion of load in the browser window
Site audit – the process of reviewing a website and assessing its performance on a variety of criteria. There are several types of site audits, including security audits, SEO audits, competitive audits, and more.
Uptime – the measure of how long a site is viewable and useable. Downtime on a site may translate into poor customer experience and lost revenue.
SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION
Anchor text – text that appears highlighted in a hyperlink that can be clicked to open a webpage. Search engines use anchor text to help decide what the linked page is about. Links on a website should have a descriptive, keyword rich anchor text that describes the destination page in order to improve search performance.
Broken link – a broken hyperlink that no longer points to its original destination. Broken links undermine user experience, waste resources of search engine crawlers, and can affect a website’s placement in search engines.
Cookie – a text file placed on a visitor’s computer while browsing a website. Cookies are used to track returning visitors.
Crawler/spider/bot – a crawler is a program that visits websites and reads their pages and information in order to create entries for a search engine index
Crawler error – the inability of a crawler to view or index pages on a website
Dead end page – pages that include no links and require a visitor to click the back button in order to stay on a website. Dead end pages make is difficult for visitors to navigate a website and, as a result, visitors may be more inclined to exit the site.
Duplicate content – when multiple URLs serve the same page. Duplicate content across different URLs on a website leads to poor placement in search results because they waste search engine resources by collecting and processing identical content. Common types of duplicate pages are printable or text-only versions of the main page, or redirects to login pages intended for your site’s visitors that also return a “You must log in” page to crawlers.
Low word count – when a page has little or no text. Low word counts often receive poor placement in search results
Meta tags – a tag (a coding statement) in the HTML that describes some aspect of the contents of a webpage.
Pay per click (cost per click) – a model where a company that has place an advertisement on a website pays a sum of money to a host website when a user clicks on the advertisement.
Redirect – making a web page available under more than one URL address. Redirecting too many of a website’s pages to other pages wastes crawler resources and can result in lower search engine performance.
Robots.txt – the name of a text file that is uploaded to a website’s director and linked in the HTML code of the website. Used to provide instructions about a website to crawlers and spiders. A robots.txt file can also be used to restrict access by crawlers to your entire website or areas of your website. It can prevent search engines from indexing forms, duplicate content, and other pages that shouldn’t be indexed and may compromise the performance of a website.
Search engine optimization – the process of maximizing the number of visitors to a particular website by ensuring that the site appears high on the list of results returned by search engines
Server errors – indicates there is a problem preventing your web server from sending the requested page. Server errors indicate major problems with the content of your site, and prevent search engines from finding all your site’s pages.
Benchmark – measurements that indicate a specific performance metric and allows comparison of metrics between like applications, websites, or companies
Reachability – a measure of how easy it is for visitors and search engine crawlers to find that they are looking for on your site. A well-linked, well-structured site has great reachability, and will be evaluated as important by search engines.
Stickiness – a website’s ability to retain visitors, measured as a number of pages visited per session and minutes per visit (time on site). Stickiness can be achieved through unique, quality content that visitors find valuable, well-structured pages, and appropriately linked resources.
Competitive intelligence – In general, the act of defining, gathering, analyzing, and distributing intelligence about competitors in order to make strategic decisions that ideally lead to competitive advantage in the marketplace.
Certified Metrics – getting “certified” means a site has installed an Alexa Certify Code on its site to directly measure its actual website traffic. Once Certified, a site owner can choose whether or not to publicly display their site’s directly measured metrics. (read more)
Click through – a click on a link which leads to another website or section of a website
Click through rate – the percentage of people who access a hyperlink (usually an ad) online. The click through rate is calculated by taking the number of clicks your link/ad receives divided by the number of times your link/ad was shown (impressions).
Direct referral – visits to a site by visitors who typed a website’s URL directly into their browser. This also refers to the visitors who clicked on links saved as bookmarks or untagged links within emails.
Entry page – the first page that a visitor arrives at on a website from another domain
Exit page – the last page that a visitor accesses during a visit before leaving a website
Landing page (from Digital Analytics Association) – the page intended to identify the beginning of the user experience resulting from a defined marketing effort. In other words, a landing page is a standalone web page that has been designed for a single objective.
Link referrals – a count of all referrals from links on other websites (that are not search engines or social networks) during a selected time period
Minutes per visit (time on site) – the average length of a visit to a website during a selected time period
Referral – visitors referred by links on other websites
Related links – other sites that are related to the site you are interested in. Related sites may receive traffic from similar keywords, have a similar audience, or are frequently cited together on web pages. (read more)
Session – a record of a single visitor browsing a website during a given time period. This can include multiple screen or pageviews, events, or ecommerce transactions. Sessions end at midnight on the day a session was initiated or after 30 minutes of inactivity.
Social referrals – a count of all referrals from social networks during a selected time period
Top viewed pages – pages that were most viewed during a selected time period
Visits by country – visits to a website over a selected time period, broken down by the country of the visitor