The next instalment of our series on understanding Google Analytics focuses on website pageviews, how they are counted and why they are important to monitor.

When explaining what a pageview is Google Analytics help section says; “any time the tracking call is executed, the Analytics tracking code retrieves the path and page using the window.location object and automatically logs a pageview. You can also simulate a pageview by using the _trackPageview() function in the tracking code for those situations where there is no specific URL.”

Therefore, in English, a pageview is triggered and counted within Google Analytics when the tracking code is executed on a web page, usually when a page is loaded by a browser. So the number of pageviews stated is the total number of pages viewed, including repeated views of a single page.

However if a page on your site does not have its own URL you can force GA to count a pageview by adding _trackPageview() in the tracking code.

Analytics also counts unique pageviews, these are pageviews that are generated by the same user during one session on the site. So if a visitor came to the site and viewed one page twice or more times within their session that would only count as one unique pageview.

Google Analytics Page Views

There are many reasons why website owners should track and monitor pageviews for their site(s). Firstly it is a good indicator for how easy your site is to navigate and establish whether or not visitors are exploring your site. When looking at Analytics you would hope to see, if you have many pages on your website, that the total number of visitors is a lot lower than the number of pageviews as this shows that visitors are looking at multiple pages.

Another good metric reported in Analytics is Pages / Visits which is the total number of pageviews divided by the total number of visits. This tells you how many pages on average a visitor is viewing on your site within their one visit.

Google Analytics Pages Per Visit

This metric is used when segmenting traffic by country, source, device etc. so you can see if people from the US view more pages on average than those in the UK or that people visiting from a tablet view fewer pages per visit than those visiting on a desktop computer for instance.

There are some things to consider when analysing your pageview metrics, for example if you have a high number of pageviews but low time on site it may mean that people cannot find what they are looking for, as they are having to click around to lots of pages but are not staying on those pages to read/view the content.

Similarly if you have a small number of pages on your site then you should expect to see a small number of pageviews and you shouldn’t be worried if your Pages / Visits figure is low.

You can also look at pageviews on a page by page basis so you can see which pages on your site are most popular and see how many times they have been viewed. For instance if you wrote a blog post or advertised a particular page on your site you could see how many people have gone on to read/view that content.

Similarly you can see if pages are not getting views. This could mean that they are hidden and need to be made easier to find by adding additional/more obvious links to the content from other pages on the site.

More to follow on landing pages, bounce rate and other Google Analytics metrics in the coming weeks.