Google Analytics is a powerful business intelligence tool that allows marketers to better understand how their website performs in terms of creating traffic and converting those visitors into sales and revenue.
Your website probably already gives you some basic insights into how many “hits” you receive but discovering unique visitors can be a challenge. This discussion will explore how to find unique visitors using Google Analytics and what this information can mean for your business and website.
What Is A Unique Visitor In Google Analytics?
Google Analytics defines visitors as simply “users.” Google Analytics defines this unique user metric as “the number of unduplicated (counted once) visitors to your website over the course of the specified time period.”
Let’s break this definition down a little bit.
● “The number...”: Unique visitors, or users, is displayed as a number. The higher the number, the larger your website’s audience.
● “...of unduplicated (counted once) visitors…”: Unique visitors means people that have visited your site at least once. It also means that return visitors are not counted as a new user each time they come back.
● “...to your website…”: Typically, you’d look at unique visitors for your entire website. However, you could also look at users of a single landing page or URL label.
● “...over the course of the specified time period.”: When working with analytics, you can set the time frame that you want to look at. It is common for a site owner to measure unique visitors month-to-month to see if the audience is growing.
Finding Your “Users” Metric In Google Analytics
After you’ve logged into your Google Analytics account, you can click on the “Audience” tab at the top of the page. The overview is where you can see your users for the time period. There are some other metrics on this page that are also worthwhile to know:
● Sessions: Whenever a person visits your site, it counts as a session. It doesn’t matter if they are there for a second or two hours, it still counts as a session. If they return again later, it is another session. This is essentially how many total visitors your website receives, even from the same users returning again and again.
● Pageviews: In a single session, a user may visit multiple pages on your website. Each page they view counts as a pageview.
● Pages / Session: How many pages, on average, does a visitor view in a single session? This metric is your number of pageviews divided by the number of sessions.
● Avg. Session Duration: How long does the average visitor spend on your site?
● Bounce Rate: This metrics shows you the percentage of single-page sessions out of the total number of sessions. A single-page session, or bounce, is not a good sign. It usually signals that a user visited your site, but then left before interacting or moving to another page. A high bounce rate means that people are coming, but then quickly leaving your site.
● % New Sessions: Similar to bounce rate, this metric is a percentage of your total sessions. It is the percentage of sessions resulting from first-time visitors to your site. You could find this by taking your user's metric and dividing it by the total sessions.
How Accurate Is The Unique Visitors Metric?
How to get an accurate figure of unique visitor google analytics. The way that Google Analytics identifies and tracks users is through browser cookies and site tags. When a new user first visits your website, a cookie is downloaded, which is used by Google Analytics to update your reports and dashboard metrics.
The first thing that the analytics system checks are whether or not this cookie is present. If it isn’t, then Google adds it and labels the visitor as a new user. If the cookie is present, the system knows that this is a return visit; the cookie is updated and a session is added to the tally.
This method of identifying new users and return visitors is important to know because there are a few scenarios where this will impact the accuracy of your user report. For instance:
● A new user discovers your website while at work. He loves the content on the site so much that he visits again from his mobile device during the train ride home and again from his home computer. Even though this is the same person, the analytics system will count it as three unique visitors because each new device needs to download the cookie.
● A family shares the same home computer. Each member of the family discovers the same website at different times. The analytics system doesn’t realize that multiple users are sharing the same computer and counts these different first-time visits as one person.
● When someone goes into their browser and clears their cookie data, Google Analytics treats them as a new user because it is not aware that they have deleted the cookie.
Gaining Insights from Unique Visitors In Google Analytics
The real question isn’t how do you find unique visitors in Google Analytics. That’s the easy part. The better question is what do you do with this data once you have it. In other words, what sort of insights are hidden in your Google Analytics user report?
Here are a few thoughts to get you started:
● Looking month-to-month is important because it will let you see if you’re gaining or losing new visitors over each 30-day period. However, seasonality, holidays and other reasons can cause fluctuations in your visitor counts. So, be sure to compare year-over-year data as well. You may find interesting trends that repeat each year!
● Beneath your Audience Overview numbers, there are additional options to segment users based on language, country, city, browser, operating system, device type and much more. This is a treasure trove of great information. If you’re a local business, you can compare how different areas contribute to your site traffic.
● One area to pay particularly close attention to is the differences between your mobile and desktop visitors. With more people connecting to sites through their smartphones and tablets, your website absolutely needs to be mobile-friendly. Comparing and contrasting how mobile and desktop traffic behaves may help you identify key issues that are hurting your site’s mobile experience for these users.
The more you can drill down into this data and get to the bottom of who is visiting your site, why and how can you capitalize on these opportunities, the easier it will be to grow your audience. Finding your unique visitors in Google Analytics is a great start towards achieving this!