Google Analytics: Page Views Vs. Unique Views

by Ed Oswald

Google Analytics is a free service from Google for webmasters looking to track and analyze visits to their sites. It provides reports that gives you greater insight on how your site visitors navigate the site. One of these measurements is called the page view.

Page Views

The page view is a count of each time that a Web visitor loads -- and views -- a particular Web page. Each time that a page is loaded, the Google Analytics code embedded in the page’s code counts the instance. These are then totaled to provide a picture of the popularity of any specific page. The generic page view count will include every time a page is loaded, including reloads by the same visitor.

Sessions

The concept of a session is important to understanding the difference between page views and unique page views. A session includes visits to a Web site and the pages loaded in a specific period. Google Analytics sets sessions to expire after 30 minutes of inactivity, although an Analytics administrator can change this timeout length in the Admin panel to anywhere between one minute to four hours.

Unique Page Views

The unique page view is different from the general page view. As the name implies, the count only includes new page views during a single session. Instead of counting every time the page was loaded, the unique page view is the number of sessions over a selected period of time that the page was viewed at least once. Page reloads are not counted in this number, so it will always be equal or less than the number of overall page views.

Significance and Considerations

Tracking unique page views will be useful to webmasters with sites that have pages that are frequently updated. The visitor may be reloading the page to view updated content many times in a given session, which inflates the number of page views. Thus the unique page view is a much better measure of the popularity of the page in these circumstances. There is one consideration, however -- if the visitor comes back after the session expires, it will count as a new unique page view.

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About the Author

Ed Oswald is a freelance writer whose work appears on several technology sites as well as on Demand Studios. He has been writing since 2004 and graduated with a degree in Journalism from Temple University.

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