Navigating the “behavior” section of Google Analytics you will find the “pageviews” metric as the main metric in most reports. Many businesses still consider this the main metric to be observed on their websites. But, is this true? What is a pageview in Google Analytics? Let's see!
What are pageviews in Google Analytics?
Google Analytics has a very useful feature, which explains what a certain metric or dimension is when you hover over the question mark icon. According to Google Analytics, the definition of pageviews is:
Pageviews is the total number of pages viewed. Repeated views of a single page are counted.
According to the Google Analytics support from Google, a page view is:
An instance of a page being loaded (or reloaded) by a browser. Page view is a metric defined as the total number of pages displayed.
Now suppose you have a page on your site about your main product: page views will show the number of times that page is viewed in a given period. The “pageviews” metric itself says nothing about how many visitors viewed the page or how many times the page was viewed per session. It's just the total number of views per page. This means that a visitor can be responsible for many views and that a page can be viewed multiple times per session.
Combining pageviews with other metrics
The volume of pageviews can provide an indication of how popular a page is. Yet, not always having a high number of page views necessarily means that the page is popular. Is it good that you have a lot of page views per visit? Does this mean that people like to read many pages on your website? Or does it mean that they can't find what they are looking for? A good data analyst always criticizes your data. A single metric doesn't say much; is the context that provides the information that you can use.
You may ask yourself, "Why don't I see"sessions“,“ Pageviews ”and“ users ”in a single table in Google Analytics?” There is a reason why Google Analytics does not allow you to see pageviews in combination with sessions and users by default. This has to do with the way Google Analytics collects your data. Google Analytics data is organized based on scopes. In GA, information is organized under four scopes:
If you are interested in understanding the scope in Google Analytics, I wrote a GA dimensions and metrics article that explains why you can’t combine metrics from different scopes. In short: never combine hit metrics and sessions. Therefore, if you create a custom report that shows page views and sessions per page, you will receive a report that does not make sense. Because sessions have hits, but hits don't have sessions.
Read too: "Digital Marketing Metrics: Which Are Important?“
Adding context to page views
So if you can't combine user and session metrics with page views (hit), what can you do to add more context to the page views metric?
You can see the number of unique pageviews compared to pageviews. According to the definition in Google Analytics:
Unique (or exclusive) pageviews is the number of sessions during which the specified page has been viewed at least once. A single page view is counted for each combination of URL and page title.
Explaining. Let's say a visitor visits a page about On-page SEO, then visit the home page and then visit the on-page SEO page again. During this session, the on-page SEO page is displayed twice. These two page views in this single session will be added to the total number of pageviews for that page. However, only a single page view will be added to the total number of unique pageviews for that page during a single session.
If you want to see the number of sessions on a page, the best way is to examine the metric for unique page views. And if you divide the number of page views by the number of unique page views, you get the average number of times that a specific page was viewed per session. It’s a good idea to check pages for which the number of pageviews differs greatly from the number of unique pageviews. This means that visitors have viewed this page a few times during a single session. This may indicate that the page is confusing people, or that it may be a help page (for example) where visitors have to visit a few times to perform a procedure on the site.
Read too: "What are users in Google Analytics?“
You can also see the number of page views per visit and create a user segment. This allows you to compare groups of users and see where they differ. For example, visits with more than three pageviews compared to visits with less than three pageviews.
Are these two groups coming from different traffic sources? Do they read different articles? Do they buy things or not? Comparing groups will help you better understand your audience.
No news or extraordinary tips in this article. It is a review of basic concepts that many professionals, agencies and companies often fail to observe.
In general, pageviews are not the most interesting metric for you to use in your analysis. And if you consider it one of the most important metrics in your reports, reconsider because there are much more valuable metrics out there. What you want to know? Are page views the way to obtain this information? Probably not.
Keep reading: "Nomenclature in Google Analytics and Tag Manager“