Web Analytics Definitions

On September 22, 2008, the Digital Analytics Association (DAA) Standards Committee, led by Angie Brown and Judith Pascual, released the next edition (version 5 draft) of Web Analytics Definitions for public comment.
>> Download the full Draft Version 5 (DAA website)

The following definitions have been extracted from the above source (Version 4.0), in alphabetical order. Please refer to the original document for full definitions:

Building Block Terms

Visit Characterization Terms

Visitor Characterization

Engagement Terms

Conversion Metrics


Bounces

A metric measuring content effectiveness, Bounces, or “Single Page View Visits“, are Visits that consist of one page-view. Just as for a single page visit, the entry page and exit page are the same page. Bounces should not be equated or confused with single page visits.
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Bounce Rate

Single page view visits divided by entry pages. If bounce rate is being calculated for a specific page, then it is the number of times that page was a single page view visit divided by the number of times that page was an entry. If bounce rate is calculated for a group of pages, then it is the number of times pages in that group was a single page view visit divided by the number of times pages in that group were entry pages. A site-wide bounce rate represents the percentage of total visits that were single page view visits.
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Click-through

Number of times a link was clicked by a visitor. Click-throughs are typically associated with advertising activities, whether external or internal to the site. Note that click-throughs measured on the sending side (as reported by your ad server, for example) and on the receiving side (as reported by your web analytics tool) often do not match. Minor discrepancies are normal, but large discrepancies may require investigation.
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Click-through Rate/Ratio

The number of click-throughs for a specific link divided by the number of times that link was viewed. Both the click-throughs and the views of the link are measured for the same designated reporting time period.
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Conversion

On a website, a conversion results when a visitor completes a target action. This is a method of segmenting behavior as visitors interact with a web property. The event represents a transition in the visitor state that may indicate 1) potential for future behavior such as clicking on an advertisement, or registering for more information, or starting a check out process; or 2) completion of a goal milestone event such as completing a purchase on-line or requesting a quote. The latter (2) are sometimes designated as target or goal conversions, and the former (1) are sometimes referred to as step, support, mini, or micro conversions.

A conversion can be viewed and counted as any other event. In addition, conversions provide a general framework for segmenting visits or visitors and attributing various marketing activity and visitor actions to these segments. They provide the marketer an additional tool for segmenting visitors other than demographics. In practice the two approaches work together to understand the visitor and their on and off line behavior with respect to various marketing activities. The best conversions indicate that a visitor has successfully completed an objective of the site or business.
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Entry Page

Used in Web Analytics, the Entry page is the first page in the visit (or session) regardless of how the sessions are calculated; different sessionization methods may give different results. Entry page is typically presented as a list of URLs or their page titles, showing the top entry pages and the number of visits for which each was an entry. Because each visit contains at least one “page,” the total number of entry pages equals the total number of visits for any given time frame.

Entry page should not be equated or confused with landing page.
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Event

A conversion metric, an event can be any logged or recorded action that has a specific date and time assigned to it by either the browser or server.

The occurrence of an event can be counted in three ways:
(1) Event – Each occurrence of the event is counted.
(2) Visit – Each visit where the event occurs at least once is counted.
(3) Visitor – Each unique visitor that executed the event at least once is counted.

These counts are always associated within designated reporting timeframes such as an hour, day, week or month.
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Exit Page

Used to Web Analytics, the Exit Page is the last page on a site accessed during a visit, signifying the end of a visit/session. In a tabbed or multi-window browser environment it should still be the final page accessed that is recorded as the Exit Page though it cannot be definitively known that this was the last page the visitor viewed. Contact your vendor for information regarding your specific implementation. Because each visit contains at least one “page,” the total number of exit pages equals the total number of completed visits for any given time frame. The use of cookies to track visit sessions or another reliable visit session method is necessary to accurately track this measure.
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External Referrer

Used in Web Analytics, the External Referrer is a referring page URL where the traffic is external or outside of the website or a web-property defined by the user. Typically external referrers are counted and aggregated by the domain in the URL. The major domain indicates the external website that referred the request for the page. For large complex portals, the subdomain typically identifies the property making the referral. For hosted sites such as merchant stores or blogs, the path within the referrer URL may be needed to identify the specific website that has included a link to your site.
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Internal Referrer

Used in Web Analytics, the Internal Referrer is a referring page URL that is internal to the website or a web-property within the website as defined by the user. Typically the internal referrer shares the same URL domain as the page URL that was requested. Often relative URLs are a strong indicator of local or internal content. However there are many situations where this is either not true or not sufficient. The website may have many different domains or use domains to track special promotions or link off line activity. It may use external transaction engines to manage shopping carts or finances that should be treated as internal to the website.
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Landing Page

Used in Web Analytics, the Landing page is a page intended to identify the beginning of the user experience resulting from a defined marketing effort. Landing pages are often optimized for specific keywords, audiences, or calls to action. Since they represent a touch point or an opportunity to present your message to the visitor, they have a particular importance in conveying information to motivate the visitor to become more engaged with the site. A landing page is not necessarily an entry page although it could be. For many sites using search Ads, the visitor may return several times during a session. A useful metric may be number of landing pages per session which indicates the degree that visitors move on and off a website.

Typically Landing Page is used in on-line marketing channels to describe the call to action of an advertisement. Special parameters are sometimes used, alone or in combination with the referring URL, to identify the marketing channel or tactic responsible for the lead. In some situations, it may be appropriate to limit landing pages to only those pages with an external referrer.
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New Visitor

Used in Web Analytics, the New Visitor count is the number of Unique Visitors with activity including a first-ever Visit to a site during a reporting period. Each individual is counted only once in the reporting period. A visitor can only be counted as a new visitor if it is the first time to your site. So, if a visitor comes to your Website for the first time on Monday, and returns on Wednesday, that is counted as a daily unique visitor on both days, but as a new visitor only on Monday. The new visitor metric, when compared with the return visitor metric, is helpful in determining the overall loyalty and affinity of visitors to the site being analyzed. Additionally, when segmented correctly, the new visitor behavior is especially helpful when compared to return visitor behavior in determining the difference, if any, between how new and presumably unfamiliar visitors utilize a website versus the usage habits of visitors that have some level of experience interacting with the site.
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Original Referrer

Used in Web Analytics, the Original Referrer is the first referrer in a visitor’s first visit, whether internal, external or null. The visitor’s “first” visit, or session, may be with respect to a specified attribution window, or it may be with respect to the life of the data. Ask your tool vendor how this is calculated for your application. External referrers represent the sources of new visitors to your website or property. If large counts of your original referrers are internal, this could be indicative of potential problems (tagging problems, mid-session cookie churn, etc.).
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Page (Website)

As used in Web Analytics, a Page is an analyst definable unit of content. Most web analytics tools allow the client to specify what types of files or requests qualify as a “page.” Certain technologies including (but not limited to) Flash, AJAX, media files, downloads, documents, and PDFs do not follow the typical page paradigm but may be definable as pages (and their access counted as a page view) in specific tools.
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Page Exit Ratio

A metric used in Web Analytics for measuring content effectiveness, the Page Exit Ratio is the number of exits from a page divided by total number of page views of that page. Page exit ratio should not be confused with bounce rate, which is an indicator of single-page-view visits on your site. Page exit ratio applies to all visits regardless of length. Be aware that some tools may calculate page exit ratio using visits in the denominator instead of page views. Page view count is a more appropriate denominator because a visitor may travel through the same page multiple times in a visit.
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Page Views (Website)

Used in Web Analytics, the Page Views are the number of times a page (an analyst-definable unit of content) was viewed. Most web analytics tools allow the client to specify what types of files or requests qualify as a “page.” Certain technologies including (but not limited to) Flash, AJAX, media files, downloads, documents, and PDFs do not follow the typical page paradigm but may be definable as pages in specific tools.
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Page Views per Visit

Used in Web Analytics, Page Views per Visit is the number of page views in a reporting period divided by number of visits in the same reporting period.
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Referrer

Used in Web Analytics, the Referrer is the page URL that originally generated the request for the current page view or object.

See also Internal Referrer, External Referrer, Search Referrer, Visit Referrer, Original Referrer

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Repeat Visitor

Used in Web Analytics, the Repeat Visitor count is the number of Unique Visitors with activity consisting of two or more Visits to a site during a reporting period.
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Return Visitor

Used in Web Analytics, the Return Visitor count is the number of Unique Visitors with activity consisting of a Visit to a site during a reporting period and where the Unique Visitor also Visited the site prior to the reporting period. Each individual is counted only once in the reporting period.
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Search Referrer

Used in Web Analytics, the Search Referrer is an internal or external referrer for which the URL has been generated by a search function. The URLs generated by different search engines have characteristic patterns that identify the engine generating the search results. Often the keyword phrase that generated the request is included. The domain identifies the specific portal that displayed the search results. For internal site search engines the portal is the website itself and the referrer is internal. In all other cases, the search referrer is a type of external referrer.
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Sessions (Website)

Used in Web Analytics, a Session (also known as a Visit) is an interaction, by an individual, with a website consisting of one or more requests for an analyst-definable unit of content (i.e. “page view”). If an individual has not taken another action (typically additional page views) on the site within a specified time period, the visit session will terminate. Different tool providers use different methodologies to track sessions. Ask your tool provider how this metric is computed. A typical time-out period for a session is 30 minutes, but this time period is configurable in many web analytics applications. A session typically consists of one or more page views.
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Single-Page Visits

Used in Web Analytics as a metric for measuring content effectiveness, the Single-Page Visits are Visits that consist of one page regardless of the number of times the page was viewed. For a single-page visit, the entry page and exit page are the same page. Single-page visits should not be equated or confused with single page view visits or bounces.
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Single Page View Visits

Used in Web Analytics as a metric for evaluating content effectiveness, Single Page View Visits, also known as “Bounces” are Visits that consist of one page-view. Just as for a single page visits, the entry page and exit page are the same page. Single page view visits should not be equated or confused with single page visits.
More details on DAA website…


Unique Visitors

Used in Web Analytics, Unique Visitors are the number of inferred individual people (filtered for spiders and robots), within a designated reporting timeframe, with activity consisting of one or more visits to a site. Each individual is counted only once in the unique visitor measure for the reporting period. Authentication, either active or passive, is the most accurate way to track unique visitors. However, because most sites do not require a user login, the most predominant method of identifying unique visitors is via a persistent cookie that stores and returns a unique id value. Because different methods are used to track unique visitors, you should ask your tool provider how they calculate this metric.

A unique visitor count is always associated with a time period (most often day, week, or month), and it is a “non-additive” metric. This means that unique visitors can not be added together over time, over page views, or over groups of content, because one visitor can view multiple pages or make multiple visits in the time frame studied.

See also New Visitor, Repeat Visitor, Return Visitor.

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Visit Duration

Used in Web Analytics, the Visit Duration is the length of time in a Visit. Calculation is typically the timestamp of the last activity in the session minus the timestamp of the first activity of the session. When there is only one piece of activity in a session (a single-page visit or single event visit), no visit duration is typically reported.
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Visit Referrer

Used in Web Analytics, the Visit Referrer is the first referrer in a Visit, whether internal, external or null.
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Visits (Website)

Used in Web Analytics, the a Visit (also known as a Session) is an interaction, by an individual, with a website consisting of one or more requests for an analyst-definable unit of content (i.e. “page view”). If an individual has not taken another action (typically additional page views) on the site within a specified time period, the visit session will terminate. Different tool providers use different methodologies to track sessions. Ask your tool provider how this metric is computed. A typical time-out period for a visit is 30 minutes, but this time period is configurable in many web analytics applications. A visit typically consists of one or more page views (see page view definition).


Web Analytics

Web Analytics is the measurement, collection, analysis and reporting of Internet data for the purposes of understanding and optimizing Web usage.
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