When it comes to measuring the success of your website, one of the best tools available is Google Analytics. Google Analytics is a free tool that allows you to track a whole host of information about how visitors are interacting with your website. While there is no shortage of information you can uncover while exploring your site’s Google Analytics information, we wanted to take a few minutes to define some important terms you’ll likely see while exploring your Analytics account.

Google Analytics dashboard
A snapshot of a Google Analytics dashboard

Bounce rate: The number of people who visit one page of your website and leave. Not to be confused with exit rate.

Branded traffic: The traffic that arrives to your website by people searching for you using your brand’s name. (You’ll have to set up a custom report that displays non-branded traffic.)

Direct traffic: Traffic from people typing your URL directly in the web browser. Also a measure of traffic where the tracking source gets lost.

Events: An action you are tracking on your website. An event can be any action you wish to track on your site, but it is usually reserved for actions that don’t lead someone to a specific URL. Examples of events can be: downloading a whitepaper, playing a video, or even tracking the number of people who click on outbound links to leave your website.

Exit rate: The percentage of people who leave your site after looking at a particular page. Users may have visited several pages prior to exiting said page, which is why exit rate and bounce rate are not the same.

Filter: A way to display information according to specific criteria you select. For example, you can create a filter to eliminate data from a specific IP address (if you aren’t interested in tracking information from your own employees, for example) or from a referral website (a development website or internal message board).

Funnels: The visualization of the steps users take leading up to a goal completion on your website. Funnels are useful so you can see where during the goal completion process people are abandoning your goal.

Goals: Actions you want visitors to take on your website that are usually tied to a URL. Common goals include tracking contact form submissions or making an online purchase.

Non-branded traffic: Traffic that arrives to your website using words and phrases that are not your brand name. Ideally, this non-branded traffic would be a high volume of people arriving to your website using your keywords.

(Not provided): Search information that is withheld from Analytics because users are logged into their Google accounts while searching, using a Firefox 14 or above when searching (Firefox now makes all Google searches secure), or searching on a secure page. Google decided to withhold this information due to privacy concerns for users.

Referral traffic: Traffic to your website that arrives from a third-party website (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn).

Search traffic: Traffic to your website that comes from any search engine (Google, Bing, Yahoo!, Ask, AOL).

Visitors: The number of individuals who viewed your website. Note that one visitor can visit your site multiple times, so you will never have more visitors than visits.

Visits: The number of times people viewed your site. Not to be confused with visitors.


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