Unique Visitors vs New Visits in Google Analytics

It has been an ongoing debate on what the difference is between Unique VisitorsNew Visits and Absolute Unique Visitors in Google Analytics (GA). The most confusing metric used by GA was Absolute Unique Visitors, I said ‘was’ because Google, in response to users enquirers, has finally launched  a new version of Analytics, where Absolute Unique Visitors has been replaced by Unique Visitors. Although the new version of GA is still in beta phase, we can expect the old version to disappear soon, leaving us with the new features of GA.

This tutorial is based on the New Version of Google Analytics

The new Visitors Overview in GA gives us results for Unique Visitors and all Visits at one glance, plus very clear pie chart that shows what percentage off all Visits comes from New and Returning Visitors.


Unique Visitors vs New Visits

My GA data from 13th of April till 13th of May shows:

756 Unique Visitors

1,353 Visits

749 Returning Visits  – 55.35% (visits from returning visitors)

604 New Visits  – 44.64% (visits from new visitors)

Calculating Unique Visitors (UV) generally means counting the number of unique IP addresses. UV means a single person who visits a website any number of times. One really important thing to recognize is that, ‘unique’ depends on what time period we are referring to: Lets say I am visiting a new website  on Tuesday, I might visit it once or 30 times on that day, but I will be counted as one Unique Visitor on that day. Now, I visit it again on Wednesday,  I can repeat my visits few times on that day, and I will be again, one Unique Visitor for Wednesday. But for the two days I am still one Unique Visitor. So the dates that you choose to measure, greatly affect the results you get.

Now, why in my report  New Visits (NW) are lower than Unique Visitors?

Unique Visitors and New Visits are always the same if your calendar is set to always include every single new visit. But my data shows UV from the 13th of April till 13th of May, and customers who visited my site, for the very first time, on 13 of March (or on any date before 13 of April), and come back again on 13 of April don’t count for New Visits in my report, but still count for Unique Visitors, hence the number of UV is higher than NW.

Which metric, Unique Visitors or New Visits is more accurate depends on the time frame you are giving to your report. Below is an example of different results for UV and NW you can get from Google Analytics based on dates:


To sum it up, Unique Visitors report counts visitors to your website (counting each visitor only once in the selected date range) whereas New vs. Returning classifies all visits (sessions) in the date range by the visitor type. The new visitor number may seem especially large if you are looking at a large date range, or if you have just recently installed Analytics on your site.

*  TIP * If you want to get annual Unique Visitors for your website, NEVER take the number of monthly UV and just add them up, the results you will get will be much higher than the actual.  For annual reports always set up the start and end date for the whole year! The same rule applies to quarterly reports as well.


If you have any questions regarding Google Analytics reports, feel free to post them here, I will be more than happy to help.




  1. Carajean says:

    This is way more hlepufl than anything else I’ve looked at.

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