Google Analytics Part 1: 3 terms that confused me and what they mean

by | Apr 20, 2017

JanBaby / Pixabay

Google Analytics, good for data.

Like most companies with a website, we want to know what is going on with our website.
In my journey to find out how our blogs perform I’ve found a lot of the terms used to describe what’s going on in Google Analytics confusing. Here are 3 terms and the blogs which helped me understand what was going on. I hope they help you.
If you are getting started with Google Analytics the place to go is here to let Google get you up to speed.

1. Next Page Path

For a given page I wanted to know where traffic had gone next. I found Next Page Path as a secondary dimension in Behaviour -> Site Content -> All Pages.
The blog the Misunderstood Metrics: Next Page Path helped me understand Next Page Path much better. As the blog explained; ‘the Next Page Path is the same as the Page dimension, and causes the confusion that continues today’. This blog showed me how to find the path traffic took through our site at; Behaviour -> Site Content -> All Pages in the Navigation Summary tab. This report allowed me to select a page and see the which pages proceeded it and followed it. It also told me the number of  and exits from my selected page.
The blog Understanding Next and Previous Page Path Dimensions in Google Analytics. Explained Next Page Path in the same way. However, it also showed how to create a custom report which can show, for a given page, which page proceeded it and which succeeded it.
Both blogs explain the issue and give different ways to find out which page traffic came from and went to.

2. Users, Sessions, and Pageviews

One of the first questions I asked when I started reporting on website performance using Google Analytics was: ‘How popular are our blogs?’. This is a complex question because the answer depends on what you are really asking. There are three terms which come up a lot on Google Analytics; Users, Sessions and Pageviews. I knew these metrics measure different things but I wasn’t really sure how they all related.

The blog Differences between Users, Sessions, and Pageviews (and a Google Analytics Update) was helpful in understanding the differences between the three:

  • Users – the number of people who visit our site.
  • Pageviews – the number of pages that are loaded
  • Sessions – the number of visits to a site

Here are some blogs on each to help you understand each better and whether they are relevant to you:

3. Goals

On the OptimalBI website, I wanted to measure specific actions such as how many times a particular page was visited from another page. After some searching I discovered Goals.
I was initially confused by Goals because they differ from most other reports in Google Analytics. Most reports are defined by Google Analytics so you can select the metric you want, such as pageviews, and look back over all your Google Analytics data. Goals are different. They need to be set up before they can collect data, but because you define what Google Analytics is counting they can be very useful.
Goals enable you to define a specific action such as visiting a page and then counting how many times that specific action takes place. One of the things we measure is how many times a visitor to the site goes to our Contact Us page. Setting up this action as a Goal enabled me to measure how many times this happened.
These are the blogs I read to learn everything I could about Goals:

So, what’s the best blog you have found to explain how Google Analytics works?
Jack – Success is preparation meets opportunity
Jack blogs about community, social media and how all this data stuff impacts the rest of us.
Want to read more? Try … LinkedIn Views, how they are counted and 4 tips for you or more from Jack.
We run regular business intelligence courses in both Wellington and Auckland.

  1. armworldwide

    Well organized and quality content. Thanks for sharing the knowledge.

    • Jack Prichard

      Wow, thank you for saying so. It’s so nice to read feedback like that.

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *