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Pageviews are metrics in Google Analytics that refer to when a user loads a webpage on a site and sessions (also from Google Analytics) consists of every action they take during the entirety of their visit to that site.
If you can’t measure it, how can you work to improve it?
That was the catch with marketing schemes prior to the digital revolution. Newspapers, magazines, and radio alike could release content they believed to be of user value, but there was a limited number of ways to gauge whether or not it truly satisfied user intent. Such platforms additionally couldn’t measure user-engagement. Whether a customer read their newspaper all the way through or tossed it after reading the front page was simply unknown. Digital technology has largely assuaged this dilemma for websites, providing webmasters valuable data and metrics. The service relays the number of visits, their duration, the sources of traffic, and which pages are being visited. All of this data is then compiled into metrics such as sessions and pageviews. For a company that has just contracted link-building or content marketing services, reviewing your site’s through services such as Google Analytics.
A powerful tool among webmasters, Google Analytics tracks and reports website traffic, metrics is essential to tracking improvement. These metrics are vital to the performance of your SEO campaign.
The following are definitions of some of the most important metrics put forth by Google Analytics:
Sessions: A session consists of every action taken by a single user during each site visit. Beginning when a user enters your site and ending when they leave, a session can show every page clicked through and every minute spent on each page.
Pageviews help webmasters determine what content on their site is the most popular among users. With this metric, webmasters know the most valuable location for their ads.
However, there is a bit of a gray area when it comes to pageviews. Tracking how many users visit a given page or how many pages a given user visits does not measure their actual engagement. Alone, they do not tell you if a user was so engaged that they visited multiple pages, or if that user couldn’t find what they needed and had to visit other pages. Tracking pageviews can help you understand behavior, but not intent.
As mentioned above, pageviews represent the total number of times a given page is loaded on your site. Unique pageviews, on the other hand, amount to only the pages loaded by a single user, in a given session. A single user’s collection of pageviews is counted as one unique pageview.
Unique pageviews provide webmasters a more accurate gauge of where on their site their audience is going. Since the feature eliminates the noise created by reloading the same page, webmasters can tell what pages are actually driving the most traffic. By knowing what drives their traffic, webmasters know which pages to target with ads and calls-to-action.
Since a session is recorded from the moment a user opens your site to the moment they exit, the feature can tell you a lot about how a user interacts with your site. This feature alone is what sets apart the content marketing of digital devices from that of the print industry.
A session tracks what pages were viewed, what products were bought, what forms were filled out, and so on. Additionally, a session can inform you of how long a user interacted with pages and services on your site.
With this feature, webmasters can more reliably measure user-engagement. What results from that measurement is the ability to know what is working on your site and what isn’t. As such, webmasters can make changes and tailor their content to their users’ interests. This, in turn, increases retention and drives ROI for link building and content marketing services.
As previously noted, a session begins when a user opens a site and ends when they exit it. This can be referred to as session length. Session intervals, on the other hand, measure the time in between one session and the next. Through the session interval metric, webmasters know how often users come back to their site. This allows another opportunity for webmasters to add value to their content.
In all honesty, each metric matters. However, certain metrics may be more desirable given their intended purpose.
Pageviews are important for ad impressions — a common way sites make money. Each time a page is loaded, users are exposed to a number of ads, and, as a result, the site makes money. By examining the number of pageviews per unique visitor, webmasters are able to determine the best cost per thousand (CPM) for their site’s ad campaign.
While pageviews are a big factor in a site’s revenue, sessions ultimately outweigh them in terms of value. Sessions offer a much deeper look into user engagement. Knowing users’ interests is the key to creating content that drives traffic.
For a more comprehensive assessment of the data, Google Analytics’ pageviews and sessions should be used in tandem with each other.