Your company website or new landing page is officially up, Google analytics tracking code is in place, and you’ve begun seeing some visitors within your analytics dashboard. Now what?
Understanding the way visitors are measured and reported in analytics will help evaluate the growth of your website and its potential impact on your business. A unique user refers to the number of distinct individuals that visit a page from your website. A session refers to any visit from a unique user and is counted each time the unique user visits and revisits your site content. (Source: Wikipedia)
According to Google, visitors that are not blocking cookies or asking websites not to track them should be recognized as a unique user. Google's cookie (a small downloadable file stored in the browser when visiting a webpage) has a reoccurring, renewable 2-year expiration date and should keep that person unique from any others as long as they do not clear their cookies, or switch browsers. If either of those occurs – then they would be recognized as a new unique user.
Note: If a website visitor is blocking cookies or asking websites not to track them – then they would not be recognized, counted or reported by analytics.
So, a unique user is a unique user regardless of the time frame. If they visit in September, and in October, they are recorded and reported as 1 unique user and 2 sessions.
Here are three helpful scenarios:
- John visits your site 4 times from the same device and browser without custom browser tracking controls over the course of the month. He is counted as 1 unique user, and 4 sessions.
- John visits your site 4 times from the same device and browser without custom browser tracking controls in September and again 3 times in October. If you pull the report for September and then for October separately, he is counted as 1 unique user, and 4 sessions in September – and 1 unique user and 3 sessions in October. Note: If you were to pull the report as one combined period (Sept-Oct), then John counts as 1 unique user and 7 sessions.
- John visits your site from his desktop (at the office), his iPhone (at home), and his laptop (on an airplane) over the course of a month. He counts as 3 unique users, and 3 total sessions.
In some instances, excluding unique users and sessions can be important when measuring lower traffic websites or landing pages. A simple analytics filter will omit bots, non-valuable IP address(es), geo locations and other non-valuable traffic sources, ensuring more accurate measurement.
Here are two helpful scenarios:
- Sally has 3 offices, and each office has 7 computers. All the computers, by default, have their browsers set to open on the company webpage, delivering multiple unique users and sessions each day (i.e., non-valuable traffic). Applying a filter to omit the office IP-addresses from analytics will ensure this traffic is excluded.
- Sally noticed an increase in international traffic to her website’s analytics report, yet she knows she does not have international holdings or business being conducted (or targeted) in these regions. Applying a filter to omit international users and sessions from analytics will ensure the traffic being measured is valuable.
As with most things, we recommend focusing on quality and quantity when analyzing your website or landing page traffic. These steps, coupled with key performance indicators (KPIs) and conversion goals will support your website strategy, maximizing a greater return on investment (ROI).
Peeeple is a digital marketing group. To learn more about web traffic, analytics and how to get the right unique users to your website, please contact us.