Web Statistics and Analytics Glossary

Web Analytics WordleThe following is a general glossary of terms associated with web statistics and web analytics.

Affiliates/Affiliate Marketing: Advertising and promotional marketing where the webmaster offers advertisements or endorsements for a commission based upon traffic and traffic conversions (click-throughs).

Bounce Rate: The percentage of visitors visiting a single page on the site. This is a comparative measurement of how many visitors enter and exit a web page without visiting other pages on the site. The Bounce Rate is often viewed as a percentage such as the total number of visitors that arrived and left from only that page compared to the total number of visitors to that web page (not the entire site visitors count). Confused with the exit rate, the Bounce Rate is often reported as a measurement of the time a visitor spends on the page, known as the Page Duration or Time on Page.

Clicks: Clicks are actions by the user of clicking a link or object on the web page to interact with it. Clicks are also the term used by some statistics programs such as WordPress.com Stats to indicate a click on a link to an external web page.

Click Analytics: A form of segmentation and analytics, it is the study of a site’s performance based upon the number of clicks, what is clicked, and the path a visitor takes through various clicks or pageviews.

Click Through Rate (CTR): The Click Through Rate (CTR or click-through-rates) is used as a measurement of success from an advertising or marketing campaign, landing page, or other spot that motivates someone to click and visit the resulting web page. It is a measure of the number of clicks or impressions.

Click Through: The action of clicking on a link to access another web page or site. The link may be a link or a link around an image such as an ad or badge. The Click-throughs (CT) are totaled to become the Click Through Rate as a total or comparative percentage.

Conversion Funnel: The process of leading the visitor to the conversion point. Funnels may be initiated by many activities such as advertising, social media, and marketing campaigns, and may pass through or use a landing page on your site. Web Analytics often explores each step of the conversion process or funnel looking for leaks, visitors abandoning the path, to fix them. Those who travel the Conversion Funnel to completion are added to the Conversion Rate.

Conversion: Conversion is the process of accomplishing the intended task of an activity such as signing up for a newsletter or purchasing a product. The Conversion Rate is the percentage of visitors completing the task.

Cookie: A cookie is a small text file placed on the visitor’s computer to record the activity of their visit on a particular site. Cookies contain information that tracks a visitor when they return to the site, often restoring information from their previous visit. There are many different types of cookies, ones that last only for the length of the session or during the visitor’s time logged into the site, and others that persist for an extended period of time. There are now laws restricting the data that may be stored in a cookie in Europe and elsewhere to protect the privacy of the web user, restricting the data collected. If a user clears or deletes cookies in their browser, they may appear as a first time visitor to the site, and must log into a site by entering their username and password as that data was also deleted.

Crawler: A crawler is a search engine automated program or bot that trawls the web moving through links from one web page to another, from one website to another, gathering information to store in the search engine database. This information goes into the data used to determined the site’s relevancy to a search.

Customer Journey: The customer journey is the process a visitor takes to your site. It encompasses experiential data from outside of the site, detailing the steps a visitor takes to find your site, move through the site, and complete an action. For instance, if you offer a book on gardening on your site, the customer journey would start at the point the visitor first learns of the book, be it through an ad, business card, author event in a bookstore, a bookstore (online or off), a site review, word of mouth, or search engines. It would follow through your site from the arrival point to the transaction and completion point.

Duration: Also known as active time, session duration or engagement time, duration refers to the length of time visitors spend on a single web page or the site itself. With the arrival of multiple tab browsers, estimating the length of time a visitor was interacting with a web page became a challenge. The time out occurs when no record of mouse movements are detected after a specific length of time, if the web analytics program is designed to monitor such activity. New mobile devices that detect when the eye is looking at the screen or away from it may improve tracking eye-contact or visitor engagement if adopted across all devices.

Entry Page: Similar to a Landing Page, this is the point at which a visitor enters the site. If the analytics program is analyzing a single visitor, the entry page would be their access point and the exit page would be the point they leave the site. If you are studying the data for the most popular entry pages on your site, often the most popular posts but not always, the entry page data would be a total for a specific time period.

Event: In web analytics, an event is an action or class (type or group) of actions on a website. Examples include pageviews, clicks, submitting a form, leaving a comment, any action that engages the visitor to take action.

Exit Page: Similar to the Landing Page and the opposite of the Entry Page, the exit page is the point at which a visitor leaves the site. The data for exit pages may be for a single visitor or a total for a specific time period of all visitors, indicating the most popular exit point for your site.

Geo-location/Geo-tracking: Geo-location is the location of the visitor at the time they visit your site. Geo-tracking or location racking is a new industry associated with the proliferation of GPS in computers and mobile devices. In web analytics, the IP address passes on information such as your location through web browsers and mobile devices when permissions are set with the “Share your location” settings. For traditional web statistics, the geographical location of the visitor is tracked by the country, state/province, and city, rarely deeper though more advanced web analytics can show general GPS locations down to the neighborhood. Geo-tracking works with mobile apps to “check in” to a location when the phone (and person) arrive or travel near a registered location. Such geographical information goes into web analytics to track visitor locations and activities in respect to the goals of the website. It helps to improve the content for geographic areas, cultures, and languages, such as providing translations, or to engage the visitor through mobile apps.

Hit: One of the original terms used to measure a visitor’s activity on the site, however it is actually a measure of any request by the web browser to the web server hosting the site. Hits are not a measure of visitors or pageviews. A single web page consists of information pulled from the database, often through multiple requests, images, files, HTML, CSS, and others. Each one of these may be considered a hit, so a single visitor visiting a single web page may generate dozens of hits on the site even though their action should have been measured as one “visit” or pageview.

Impression: An impression is often mistaken for a pageview. An impression is the instance of an advertisement appearing on a viewed page. For example, if the webmaster has set advertisements in the sidebar to generate on every third pageview through the site, the number of times a specific ad is seen counts as an impression. If someone visits 6 pageviews during a single visit, they would be exposed to 2 impressions of that ad.

IP Address: The Internet Protocol address is the numeric label assigned to each device in a computer or Internet network. Your Internet Provider uses this information to locate the computer on their Internet network, and passes on this information through the web browser to identify the general physical location of the machine you are using. IP is also an acronym for Internet Provider. As Internet Providers use these numbers to track the computers in their network, this number is often called the Internet Provider address. Web statistics and analytics programs use the IP address to track visitors individually on a site like a file number. As the IP address is tied to a machine or device, and a visitor may access the same site through different devices, there is no way to know which IP addresses belong to a specific individual unless other information is gained.

Key Performance Indicators: Key Performance Indicators (KPI) is a measurement of performance. KPIs are strongly associated with site or project goals such as an advertising campaign or goal of subscribing X number of people to your site’s email subscription service a week. A KPI is specific not vague, used in measuring the success.

Keywords: Keywords are search terms, words collected by search engine crawlers and entered into the database as reference material about the content of a web page and site. “Relevancy” is often added to keywords as the words must relate to the search topic. Modern search engines evaluate the relevancy of the words, their usage on a web page and the entire site, judging it and adding it to the search results when the content is relevant to the search request.

Landing Pages: Landing Pages are the web pages (or pageviews) designed to be “landed on” by visitors to your site. They typically serve a purpose and are part of a goal path or funnel. An example would be a sales page on your site to which off-site or on-site ads link. Another would be a contact or subscription form promoted on your site to drive traffic towards it to contact you or sign up for a newsletter or another subscription option. In theory, any web page on your site that generates a high level of incoming traffic may also serve as a landing page, one you should pay attention to as it serves as a portal to your site from which you may direct the visitor to other landing pages or information.

Monetization: The process of preparing and maintaining your site to encourage income directly through site activities. Monetization could be on-site advertisements, affiliate programs, pay-per-post or sponsored posts (paid to blog by a sponsor), product sales, and other direct sales techniques.

Page Duration: Also known as Time on Page, this is the measurement of how long a visitor remains upon a single web page. Stickiness is often used to describe the length of time a visitor spends on a single web page or the entire site. It is often confused with the Bounce Rate, the percentage of total visitors arriving and leaving on the same page without visiting other web pages on the site.

Page view: As two words, page views are the count of how many pages or times a page was viewed. Page view with two words is often confused with pageviews as one word, which is defined next.

Pageviews: Pageviews as one word are the generated web page for each page on your site. Examples include the front page, single posts, categories, Pages (as in pseudo-static pages hosting timeless content), tags, searches, etc. When a visitor arrives on your site, they generate a pageview in your content management system (CMS such as WordPress). As they move through the site, all the web pages they visit total the number of page views, two words. Yeah, I know it’s confusing.

Referral/Referral Link: Any link that refers to another web page or website, internal or external, is known as a referral link. The site itself is a referrer or referral. On your site, referral links are also known as incoming links. Links to other sites from yours would be referral links or clicks in some web statistics packages such as WordPress.com Stats.

Segmentation: The process of separating the data into specific information or segments. By studying the segmented data, the site owner may evaluate behaviors and other patterns to improve the site’s performance. An example would be to analyze the most popular pages by visitors from France, a segment of visitors based upon geography, to determine their interests. Another would be to analyze the demographics and data from a specific ad campaign to determine its success.

SEO: SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. Originally it was the process of ensuring your site’s code would permit fast and easy access to a search engine’s web crawler which indexed your site’s content and added it to their database. Today, the acronym has become an industry of experts and frauds offering tips and techniques to help a site get to the top of all search results. SEO is not about scamming search engines. It is about presenting content and information on your site properly so search engine databases can process and assign relevance to your content and live visitors can tell if they are in the right place.

Session: The data record of a single visitor’s activity on the site from the entry to exit page.

Site Map: A site map (two words) is a visible listing of the content on your site such as a table of contents. It is often featured on a web page and may be in chronological order, categorized by topic, or displayed in preferred reading order. It is not to be confused with the “sitemap,” a hidden XML file that helps search engines identify and index your site.

Sitemap: A sitemap (XML sitemap) is a hidden file in the root directory of your site that lists all the web pages of your site, much like an invisible table of contents. It is often confused with the term “site map” consisting of two words, not one.

Stats/Statistics: Statistics, often referred to as stats, are the basic numbers. Scorecards if you will. X number of visitors, Y number of pageviews, just numbers. Unfortunately, without anything to compare them to other that the previous day, month, or year scorecards, they are just numbers. Comparison and analysis of those numbers is web analytics.

Stickiness: The measurement of time a visitor spends on a web page or the entire site (most often the entire site). It is used to evaluate the site’s ability to keep the visitor on the site.

Uniques: Uniques or unique visitors are the total of first time visitors to your site during a specific time period. These are often considered first time visitors though they may not be as information about their previous visit is stored in browser cookies. If they clear their cookies or cache, or access through a different machine or device, their repeat visit may be tracked as a first time or unique visit, so this number is typically an estimate.

Visitor Data: By default, when you visit a website, the web browser passes on information about the visitor including the IP address, general geographic location, browser type and version, operating system type and version, monitor/screen size, device type, the previous site(s) and web pages visited, and other information as needed by the creator of the cookie. Some cookies are set to store visitor data they enter while on the website, such as their name, email, and website address entered into the comment forms from a previous visit, usernames and passwords, and credit card information from a previous sale. Unless submitted by the web user, no information is collected by web statistics and analytics programs beyond vague user statistics. Personal information is provided by the user to the site through registration or application, accompanied by a Terms of Service or Privacy Policy that the user must agree to as part of the registration process. For instance, analytics packages designed to integrate into WordPress will often convert the IP address as the user identification to their name if they leave a comment or register with the site.

Visitors: The total sum of how many “people” have visited your site during a specific time period. A visitor is considered one person sitting in front of one computer or mobile device connected to the web. A sum of the visitor count may not represent individuals but first time and return visitors to the site. There are also first time visitors, repeat visitors, return visitors, and unique visitors. Most of these are self-explanatory. See “Uniques” for more information on unique visitors.

Web Analytics: Web analytics is defined as is the measurement, collection, analysis and reporting of Internet data for purposes of understanding and optimizing web usage. Analytics takes the number and gives it a perspective, comparing the information to other data and expectations and goals.

Webmaster: The webmaster is a traditional term to represent the person managing the site. It may not be the site owner, and the title is interchangeable with Administrator. Google still uses the term for their Webmaster Tools, providing tools for support and maintenance of your website including Google Analytics.

If you find a word that should be added to the glossary of web statistics and analytics basic terminology, mention it in the comments below to help update this list.

This list is a used as a reference for educational programs and trainings presented by Lorelle VanFossen. It may be used as an educational reference only without express permission of the author.

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7 thoughts on “Web Statistics and Analytics Glossary

  1. Pingback: Blog Exercises: Statistics and Web Analytics « Lorelle on WordPress

  2. Hi Lorelle,
    Great post. Having this “data dictionary” is a great reference. How about adding an entry for canonical URL?

    The canonical tag is used by a webmaster and is added to the Head section of a Web page. The HTML code simply specifies the preferred, or canonical, URL for that page. The canonical tag has this format:

  3. Pingback: Google Updates Analytics With Improved User Segmentation, Sequence Filters | whatsweb

  4. Pingback: Now Analyzing More Than 15 Billion Actions A Month, Mixpanel Launches A Big Marketing Campaign And A Conference About Analytics | whatsweb

  5. Pingback: Blog Exercises: Patterns in the Stats « Lorelle on WordPress

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