There are no globally agreed definitions within web analytics as the industry bodies have been trying to agree definitions that are useful and definitive for some time. The main bodies who have had input in this area have been Jicwebs(Industry Committee for Web Standards)/ABCe (Auditing Bureau of Circulations electronic, UK and Europe), The WAA (Web Analytics Association, US) and to a lesser extent the IAB (Interactive Advertising Bureau). This does not prevent the following list from being a useful guide, suffering only slightly from ambiguity. Both the WAA and the ABCe provide more definitive lists for those who are declaring their statistics using the metrics defined by either.
- Hit – A request for a file from the web server. Available only in log analysis. The number of hits received by a website is frequently cited to assert its popularity, but this number is extremely misleading and dramatically over-estimates popularity. A single web-page typically consists of multiple (often dozens) of discrete files, each of which is counted as a hit as the page is downloaded, so the number of hits is really an arbitrary number more reflective of the complexity of individual pages on the website than the website’s actual popularity. The total number of visitors or page views provides a more realistic and accurate assessment of popularity.
- Page View – A request for a file whose type is defined as a page in log analysis. An occurrence of the script being run in page tagging. In log analysis, a single page view may generate multiple hits as all the resources required to view the page (images, .js and .css files) are also requested from the web server.
- Visit / Session – A series of requests from the same uniquely identified client with a set timeout. A visit is expected to contain multiple hits (in log analysis) and page views.
- First Visit / First Session – A visit from a visitor who has not made any previous visits.
- Visitor / Unique Visitor / Unique User – The uniquely identified client generating requests on the web server (log analysis) or viewing pages (page tagging) within a defined time period (i.e. day, week or month). A Unique Visitor counts once within the timescale. A visitor can make multiple visits.
- Repeat Visitor – A visitor that has made at least one previous visit. The period between the last and current visit is called visitor recency and is measured in days.
- New Visitor – A visitor that has not made any previous visits. This definition creates a certain amount of confusion (see common confusions below), and is sometimes substituted with analysis of first visits.
- Impression – An impression is each time an advertisement loads on a user’s screen. Anytime you see a banner, that is an impression.
- Singletons – The number of visits where only a single page is viewed. While not a useful metric in and of itself the number of singletons is indicative of various forms of “Click Fraud” as well as being used to calculate bounce rate and in some cases to identify automatons (“bots”).
- Bounce Rate – The percentage of visits where the visitor enters and exits at the same page without visiting any other pages on the site in between.
- % Exit – The percentage of users who exit from a page.
- Visibility time – The time a single page (or a blog, Ad Banner…) is viewed.
- Session Duration – Average amount of time that visitors spend on the site each time they visit. This metric can be complicated by the fact that analytics programs can not measure the length of the final page view. Also, if a visit comes back to the site within a short period of time, that can be measured as a continuation of the first session.
- Page View Duration – Average amount of time that visitors spend on each page of the site. As with Session Duration, this metric is complicated by the fact that analytics programs can not measure the length of the final page view.
- Depth / Page Views per Session – Depth is the average number of page views a visitor consumes before ending their session. It is calculated by dividing total number of page views by total number of sessions and is also called Page Views per Session or PV/Session.
- Frequency / Session per Unique – Frequency measures how often visitors come to a website. It is calculated by dividing the total number of sessions (or visits) by the total number of unique visitors. Sometimes it is used to measure the loyalty of your audience.
Courtesy of Wikipedia