Google Analytics – PageViews vs Sessions vs Users vs Bounce Rate

At a recent client meeting, while having a discussion on how important Google Analytics(GA) reporting is to them, I soon realized not many in the room appreciated the difference between PageViews vs Hits or why the Sessions count was more than the Users. For any person who want to use the GA data to pivot the content strategy, it is crucial to understand what is keeping their audience engaged. To do that it becomes important to understand what these terms mean.

So here’s a quick overview:

Users: Users are the unique Visitors on your site. So an individual accessing from a particular device will be tracked in analytics as a User

PageViews: While a user visits your site, the number of pages they click on within the site are recorded as PageViews

Sessions: Sessions in an analytics is a 30 minute(by default) timespan assigned for a user. All activities done by a user in this time slot is considered one session.

Bounce rate: Bounce rate refers to the number of users that visit your site, homepage or any other landing page and leave without clicking on any other page. A high bounce rate is therefore frowned upon since it shows that you have not been able to engage your audience enough and have not lured them to explore further.

Hits: Hits is any interaction that results in data being sent to Analytics. Common hit types include page tracking hits, event tracking hits, and e-commerce hits. Hence one page view by on one user can trigger multiple hits.

So hopefully we are on the same page 😛 as far as these terms are concerned.

So lets consider an example:

John Doe visits my site through an organic search on Google on his mobile on his way to office. He clicks on this very article, is intrigued enough( wishful thinking 😛 ), visits the homepage and then exits. That would result in the following:-

1 User

1 Session

2 PageViews

Multiple hits depending on the pages

So John, while on his way back home from work some 8 hrs later, decides to read some more of the blogs on his mobile. He visits my site again and this time reads 4 new blog posts. That would make the analytics look like

1 User (Still the same user, assuming of course that the device gets the same IP, lets go with that for simplicity)

2 Session (Since the user is logging back after 30m)

6 PageViews (4 new Page views added)

Multiple hits depending on the pages

So, John, a day later, happens to show this blog post on his work computer to his colleague, the analytics would show the following

2 User (1 user added since it is a different device and IP)

3 Session (1 session added for the new user)

7 PageViews(1 new PageView added)

Hope this helps to clear some of the confusions you may have had about these GA terminologies.