What Happened to My Visits and Unique Visitors Data in Google Analytics?

Google Visits and Unique Visitors Data ChangesYou may have noticed in your Google Analytics reports that the traditional Visits and Unique Visitors metrics have disappeared. I noticed the change while making new Custom Reports for a client of ours. After 2-3 minutes of ripping my hair out of my head as to why they weren’t available as metric choices, I started to do some digging. I went to the All Traffic Report in the Acquisition section to see what I could find. Sure enough, the first column no longer read Visits. All of the Visit type metrics now had new names. 

At first I was a little upset that Google could make such a change on us like this. When they changed profiles to views, it created some confusion when trying to explain things to clients and colleagues that aren’t as familiar with the platform. My thoughts raced to all of the things we now need to update.

But after thinking about the changes, the new names for these metrics do make sense. A Unique Visitor is a User, and Users can have multiple sessions or visits to a particular site / application. After running around the office notifying every one of the changes and not to worry, it was time to think about the real world effects of this change. 

I made a note of all metrics that changed in the custom reports list in Google Analytics. Once familiarized with the new terminology it was time to see what had changed with the Google Analytics API. Sure enough Google had made changes updating the names of each metric on April 16th, 2014 in their API. The old metric names were still listed, but crossed out in the list.

Panic again set in. Oh no all of our API tools are now broken I thought to myself. Luckily Google was not that mean to us. They are still supporting the old metric names in their API for now. Their policy is to remove deprecated things from their API 6 months after the initial change. With that in mind we now have until October 16th, 2014 to update our tools that utilize the API.

The changes to the API are a little upsetting, but we can live with that. Everything else was updated on its own to the new metric names. All Custom Reports were automatically updated, and everything else still seems to be working properly. It seems that the initial panic was for nothing, and we just need to add a few more GA terms that require an – also known as – designation to the list.