Web Analytics Standards

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Web Analytics Standards

The Web Analytics Association (WAA) has formed a standards committee and has proposed a list of standard definitions for Web Analytics terms. The hope that these definitions will b ...

The Web Analytics Association (WAA) has formed a standards committee and has proposed a list of standard definitions for Web Analytics terms. The hope that these definitions will become standardized across all Web Analytics tools. The current proposal is still a draft and will remain open to comments and feedback until December 31, 2008.

The benefit to having these terms standardized is that no matter what tool you’ve used or are using, the terms should always mean the same thing (a “visit” can’t mean one thing in one tool and something else in another). This will make it easier to both switch between tools, and for web analysts to speak a common language when changing jobs or collaborating. This will especially make things easier for web analytics consultants like myself who invariably have to work with all tools, and trying to keep straight what each term means in each tool can be daunting.

Thankfully the majority of the terms have the same meaning across all tools, but there have been some debate on the meaning of others and by having a standard set for the tool vendors to follow will make life easier for everyone in the long run.

Proposed Standardized Web Analytics Definitions

Compliant? Term WAA Definition
Yes Page A page is an analyst definable unit of content.
Yes Page Views The number of times a page (an analyst-definable unit of content) was viewed.
Yes Visit/Sessions 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.
Yes Unique Visitors 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.
Yes New Visitor The number of Unique Visitors with activity including a first-ever Visit to a site during a reporting period.
Yes Repeat Visitor The number of Unique Visitors with activity consisting of two or more Visits to a site during a reporting period.
Yes Entry Page The first page of a visit.
Yes Landing Page A page intended to identify the beginning of the user experience resulting from a defined marketing effort.
Yes Exit Page The last page on a site accessed during a visit, signifying the end of a visit/session.
Yes Visit Duration The length of time in a session. Calculation is typically the timestamp of the last activity in the session minus the timestamp of the first activity of the session.
Yes Referrer The referrer is the page URL that originally generated the request for the current page view or object.
Yes Internal Referrer The internal referrer is a page URL that is internal to the website or a web-property within the website as defined by the user.
Yes External Referrer The external referrer is a page URL where the traffic is external or outside of the website or a web property defined by the user.
Yes Visit Referrer The visit referrer is the first referrer in a session, whether internal, external or null.
Yes Original Referrer The original referrer is the first referrer in a visitor’s first session, whether internal, external or null.
Yes Click-through Number of times a link was clicked by a visitor.
Yes Click-through Rate/Ratio The number of click-throughs for a specific link divided by the number of times that link was viewed.
Yes Page Views per Visit The number of page views in a reporting period divided by number of visits in the same reporting period.
Yes Page Exit Ratio Number of exits from a page divided by total number of page views of that page.
Yes Single-Page Visits Visits that consist of one page regardless of the number of times the page was viewed.
Yes Single Page Visits that consist of one page view.
Yes Bounce Rate Single page view visits divided by entry pages.
Yes Event Any logged or recorded action that has a specific date and time assigned to it by either the browser or server.
Yes Conversion A visitor completing a target action.
Gabriele has been doing "Web Stuff" since the mid-1990s, and Web Analytics since 2005. She began with Omniture SiteCatalyst (now known as Adobe Analytics) and is now also well versed in Google Analytics. She has been building a team of professional analysts who have expertise in all the major analytics platforms, including Adobe Analytics, Google Analytics, IBM Coremetrics and WebTrends.