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[Editor’s Note: Google may not have an analytics help desk, but as a Google Analytics Certified Partner in the GACP Directory, Digitaria is certified to answer your Google Analytics questions. “Ask the Analyst” is a new DigiThoughts segment that deals with real analytics questions submitted to the Digitaria Web Analytics team. Submit your analytics questions to firstname.lastname@example.org]
Today’s question comes from a caller seeking clarity on four terms used in Google Analytics: New Visitor, Unique Visitor, Absolute Unique Visitor, and New Visits.
As the analytics team newbie, I’ve quickly come to realize that in order to succeed in the analytics world, you need to have a blend of dedication, perseverance, bravery, and curiosity. If you have ever seen a raw data dump, you know exactly how intimidating the mountain of numbers, metrics, and analytics lingo can be. Web analysts are essentially translators, tasked with wading through the raw (and sometimes ugly) information in order to process and deliver valuable recommendations to improve a client’s performance. The analytics department is often looked at as being the Rosetta Stone of data for each client.
In order to walk the walk, you have to talk (or at least understand) the talk. Here are four key Google Analytics metrics defined:
• This metric determines if a visitor has been to your page before or not. If Google Analytics detects a cookie that was placed in a previous visit, it will recognize the visitor as a Returning Visitor. If the cookie was deleted, or never set in the first place, Google Analytics will record this visitor as a New Visitor (and place a new cookie).
Absolute Unique Visitor:
• This is an old metric, comparable to Unique Visitor, but your reporting should use one or the other and we recommend “Unique Visitor.” “Absolute Unique Visitor” is how Google Analytics reported Unique Visitors in the older user interface of Google Analytics, and you will not find it in the new UI because it’s being phased out as a metric. There is a slight technical difference in the way Unique Visitor and Absolute Unique Visitor measure visitors, so they do not match exactly when you compare the two. We recommend using the “new Google Analytics”, and you won’t have to even worry about the difference between these two metrics.
• The number of visits by those who have never previously checked out your site. This is essentially a visit count for first time visitors.
Essentially, “visitor” describes one person looking at your site. “Views” refers to the number of different pages looked at by each visitor—therefore, your views should almost always be higher than the visitor number. Differentiating these terms is the first step in translating data into analysis.
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