Definitions of Common Analytics Terms

If you’re just starting out in analytics, you may find that there are a lot of new, confusing terms to master. Here is a short (but certainly not exhaustive) guide to what many of these mean:

Hit: a hit is any server call that corresponds to the javascript firing on a webpage or app and sent to an analytics tool. For example, you can have hits for page, event, ecommerce, and social interactions.

Pageview:  the load/view of a page of your website or mobile app

Session/Visit: a group of interactions (pageviews, events, etc) that take place on your website within a given time frame. Generally a session has a time-based expiration of 30 minutes of inactivity after the last action. A session also ends at midnight in some analytics tools (Google Analytics included). Note that a session may also end if a user comes back to your website via a different campaign, even within the 30 minutes time interval.

User/Visitor: Users (or visitors) refers to the number of users (or more accurately, cookies/browsers) interacted with your website content within a specific date range

Event: generally an action taken on your site, i.e. download, form submit, video view

Dimension: a specific attribute or characteristic of an object that can be given different values. For example, San Francisco is an attribute of the Dimension ‘City name’. Generally, dimensions are used to help organize specific data points, known as metrics.

Metric: individual data points of a dimension that can be measures or summed. Continuing with the city example, you could use metrics such as Area and Population to describe the city dimension. See the chart below for a more detailed example of dimensions and metrics.


Segment: a subset of your data set, narrowed down to a particular behavior, traffic source, geography, or other defining factor. You can add these into standard analytics reports to slice & dice your data for a more specific view.

Secondary Dimension: similar to a segment, this is a Google Analytics specific term for adding in another dimension to a report, breaking down the first dimension (ex. Country), by a second dimension (ex. traffic source).

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