Paul Hanrahan
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In the first of a series focused on explaining some of the key terms used by Google Analytics we help you get to grips with bounce rates, device types and referral traffic.

We can use Google itself to see that people in the UK are hungry for information about Google Analytics. A quick look at Google search trends shows that in the past 5 years of search “what is google analytics?” is the 24th most popular search term.

Google Analytics Trends Summary
UK Trends – Related Queries to search term “Google Analytics” past 5 years.

Appreciating that many of you are far more advanced, for those that need a refresher or who are total beginners, here is an introduction to three basic terms.

Bounce Rate:

A bounce in Google Analytics is not a ball. It can be interpreted as the percentage of single-page visits (i.e. visits in which the person left your site from the entrance page without interacting with the page). So this is one metric where having a low number is a positive thing.

High bounce rates often indicate, broken pages, too much text based content and no consideration for the journey you want people to take

Why it is important? It will depend on your site, but around 40% is a good aspiration to have. Bounce rates can tell you a lot about your website pages and help inform people’s user experience with your website. High bounce rates often indicate broken pages, too much text based content or poor consideration for the journey you want people to take on the site. Check our case study with Dovecot Studios to see how important it can be.

Device Type:

Mobile Traffic
Mobile on the GA Interface

Devices in Google’s world are the tools people used to connect to your website (e.g. a desktop computer, mobile phone or tablet). Google can see the brand, make and model of the different devices your audiences are using.

Why it is important? Knowing the way people interact with your site is hugely useful data to have. The trend is ever increasing towards people using mobile phones to access your website. It’s key that a your web design takes into consideration visitors who are on their mobile, as the user experience is different. Likewise, social media traffic largely comes from people using apps on mobile devices now.

Pro tip: Look at bounce rates together with device type. This can tell you if the journey from mobile needs to improve.


Referral traffic is a visit to your website that isn’t driven by a search engine but instead came from a user who clicked a link from another website or an email.

Why it is important?

Referral traffic
Referral on GA interface

You can look at referral traffic by landing page to see what page on your website other websites are referring people through. Once you know who is referring to your website and you can make more of this and plan to share content with them in the future. Look for influencers, people or organisations that have built up trust, who can help you get your message out further and wider.

Pro tip: you can get too much of a good thing. It’s also important to check that referral traffic isn’t too high. This could indicate that you’ve got a spammer. If you’re concerned, there are a range of solutions, DIY and paid, you can use to prevent this happening.


Main image credit: wocintech (microsoft) - 177 by WOCinTech Chat (CC BY 2.0)