What Is a Page View? Plus Other Page Metrics To Know

You’ve gone through the trouble of connecting Google Analytics or your marketing tool of choice to your WordPress website, but…now what?

You’re gathering information, but you’re not really sure what any of it means. Every time you run a report, you wonder, “What is any of this?!”

Feeling lost when it comes to your metrics can make you ignore them completely. That’s a mistake, though.

Page views and other page metrics can help you figure out how your page is performing, why it may not be delivering the results you need and how it compares to your competitors.

What Is a Page View?

A page view refers to an instance when one of your website pages is loaded or re-loaded by a browser, like Chrome or Safari.

The term “page view” — sometimes written as “pageview,” which we’ll talk more about in a minute — can also refer to the number of views a site or web page receives over a set period of time.

For analytics purposes, page views are easy to calculate. That’s because page view metrics don’t account for whether or not the view took place during a new visit or during an in-process visit.

What Is a Page View in Google Analytics?

The reason “page view” is sometimes written as one word (pageview) is because that’s how Google Analytics writes it .

Here’s how Google describes a pageview: “Whenever someone loads a page of your website or their browser history state is changed by the active site, an enhanced measurement event called page_view is sent from your website to Google Analytics.”

Google Analytics can show you how many pageviews your website has received. You can figure out which pages are most popular and which aren’t being viewed enough. From there, you can figure out if content needs to be improved, if there are accessibility issues with a page, etc.

Data to see what is a page view for your website in Google Analytics.
Source: Databox

Other marketing tools, like HubSpot, have page view metrics, too. They define page views the same way that Google defines pageviews. For example, here’s HubSpot’s definition: “A page view occurs when a page on your website is loaded or reloaded whether the user was already on your page or came from an external page.”

The Differences Between Pageviews, Sessions, and Users

To fully understand pageviews, you should also know what sessions and users are.

Pageviews

As we covered above, a pageview occurs whenever a website visitor begins a session by opening a page on your website. They can either load it or reload it — either way, it’s a pageview.

Why would a user reload a page?

There are a lot of reasons. Maybe something doesn’t load for them quickly enough, so they refresh to try to force the element to reload.

Or, maybe they accidentally typed something into the URL bar, but they want the URL to go back to showing the page they’re currently on, so they hit refresh to correct the typing error.

A user may also refresh a page if they’re worried it’s going to automatically log them out due to inactivity.

Sessions

This period of user activity begins when a page is opened (activating cookies) and ends once the user has been inactive for 30 minutes. Each session groups together the analytics from the different activities that take place during that time frame by a single user.

A session includes analytics about the different pages a user visits and how they interact with page elements.

The fact that a session allows for 30 minutes of inactivity before expiring can give you a lot of insight into user behavior.

For example, let’s say a user ends up on your home page and then navigates to a product page for an item you’re promoting. After scrolling through the product page, they exit your website. But 15 minutes later, they return to read your FAQ page and then visit the same product page.

Even though the user exited your website, they returned before that 30-minute window expired, so their actions when they came back to the site count as one session.

From this info, you could determine that your product page isn’t doing enough to answer user questions, so you might want to incorporate an FAQ section about that product in the description. You could then see if that change increases conversions on that page.

Users

This is the technical term for the person who visits your website. Each new user gets their own client ID, which is stored in the browser cookie. This is how Google tracks users, sessions and other website activity.

Pageviews are not the same as users. One user can visit several pages during a session or refresh the same page several times, which will increase the number of pageviews for that one user in that one session.

For that reason, pageviews aren’t a good way to determine how popular your site is with your audience. Multiple pageviews could simply mean that you have a small number of people who are very interested in your site and therefore visit regularly and look at several pages (or one page several times) while they’re there.

This brings us to the value of unique pageviews.

Pageviews vs. Unique Pageviews

According to Insider, the unique pageview metric is “the total number of sessions during which a specific page was viewed at least once.”

Here’s an example:

  • A person goes to your website and visits Page A, Page B, and then Page B again.
  • This all happens during one session.
  • For that session, the pageviews for Page B equal 2. That’s because Page B was viewed twice.
  • Two views get added to Page B’s total number of pageviews.
  • For that session, the unique pageviews for Page B equals 1. The same visitor viewed Page B multiple times during one session.
  • One view gets added to Page B’s total number of unique pageviews.

Unique pageviews are a much better determiner of the popularity of your website because the metric shows views from separate users. This helps marketers accurately analyze page data without exaggerating the numbers.

For example, if a user reloads your page 10 times during one session, you don’t want to view that as 10 different users landing on your page. That could make it seem like the page is performing well, when in actuality, it may be performing poorly, which is why the user had to reload so much.

Since unique pageviews tell you how many different people found and accessed your pages, it’s normal and expected to have fewer unique pageviews than regular pageviews. Actually, if you had the same number for both metrics, that would tell you a problem was occurring.

Why? Because it would mean that every time a new person visited one of your pages, they didn’t go anywhere else on your website or reload the page even once.

Chances are you’d have a high bounce rate, too.

Pageviews vs. Page Visits

You may also hear the term page visit when discussing page-related metrics. Here’s how pageviews and page visits are related to one another:

A page visit occurs when someone ends up on a page from an external page. Here are a few different actions that lead to a page visit:

  • Clicking your page link in Google search results
  • Clicking your page link from another website
  • Manually entering the URL in the browser from an external domain

The page visit will end when the user leaves your website either by going to another URL or closing the browser window.

Every page visit is also a page view, but not every page view is necessarily a page visit.

Also, one page visit can lead to several pageviews. A person can visit a page — resulting in a page visit — and then head to other pages on your website, increasing the pageviews for that session.

What Can Page Views Tell You About Performance?

Here are a few things to keep in mind about pageviews and related metrics in terms of performance:

  • The more pageviews you have, the better.
  • The most accurate metric for determining the overall popularity of a page is unique pageviews.
  • Looking at the pages per session metric tells you how many pages users tend to visit before leaving your site.

In Google Analytics, you can find helpful page metrics by going to Engagement > Pages and Screens.

Pageview data in Google Analytics.

From here, you can determine which pages are getting the most views and which of those are keeping the user’s attention the longest.

You’ll then have an idea of what type of content your audience wants so you can create more of that moving forward.

You vs. the Competition

If you want to compare your pageviews and other page metrics to the competition, you’ll need to use a tool other than Google Analytics.

Website traffic tool

For example, Semrush has a Traffic Analytics tool that gathers page performance data from your competitors. You can see their pageviews, session times, bounce rate and more, then compare your site to theirs to see how you stack up.

How To Get More Page Views and Lower Bounce Rate

There are several design elements that optimize your website layout so that users can more easily get around, visit other pages and stay on your website.

  • Create high-quality content.
  • Use headers and sidebars to make navigation easier.
  • Internally link your pages so users can find related information.

Also, keep an eye on your bounce rate. This metric is the percentage of users who don’t perform the behavior you want them to, like clicking a link, submitting a form or making a purchase.

Having some amount of bounce rate is normal, but if it’s on the high side, it means your page isn’t optimized for the desired activity. You can learn more about bounce rates here.

Bounce rate data in a graph.

Google Analytics has a bounce rate metric that you can track. Directions for how to access it can be found here.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself if a page’s bounce rate is high:

  • Does the page deliver the content that the user expects?
  • Is the meta title and meta description for the page optimized?
  • Is the page easy to read?
  • Have you optimized the page for mobile?

If a page has a high bounce rate, that means users aren’t engaging the way you want them to with that page. You can look into it to see what might need to be improved.

Wrapping Up

While knowing the answer to, “What is a page view?” is a good start to understanding your website’s performance metrics, it’s only one piece of the puzzle.

Other stats, like page sessions, page visits and unique page views, come together to give you a fuller picture of how your website is performing and where improvements are needed.

You may find our article about direct traffic vs. organic traffic helpful, too.

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