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What Are Google Analytics Sessions?

Feb 06, 2020 4 min read

A session is a period of time in which a user is interacting with your website, such as viewing multiple pages, reading content, clicking or buying products.

Google Analytics Sessions Review

The session starts every time a user arrives at your site and finish when the user leaves or:

  • If the user stays inactive for 30 minutes. You can customize your session timeout by changing the default setting of 30 minutes in your Google Analytics session timeout setting from 1 minute to 4 hours. 
  • A session also ends at midnight; for instance, if someone arrives at your site at 11:58 pm the session will end at 11:59:59 pm, and the new session will start at 12 am.
  • Also, a session ends when a campaign source is changed. For example, if a user arrived at your website from one source but opens a new page of your site in a new window from another source, the session will count as a second session.

    However, if a user arrives at your site, open a new window and write or paste the URL of one of your pages and open it, the session will be counted as the one session because coming from a direct link does not count as a new session.

How a Session Works

When a user arrives at your website the browser, they are using to visit your site stores a small amount of data via cookies. Cookies are stored in the user's browser, and cookies allow analytics to identify users for the duration of a session if the user is using the same browser and device.

Average Session Duration

Average Session Duration in Google Analytics shows the average time a user spends on your website. In Google Analytics, it is calculated by dividing the total session duration by the total number of sessions. 

Higher average session duration indicates that users are finding your site engaging and spending more time on your website. On the contrary, a low average session means your site is not engaging your users; they are not finding what they are looking for, or are not interested in what they see on your page. In this case, you need to improve your site to attract your target audience. 

Moreover, high session duration is necessary for search engine optimization as one of the ways Google algorithms judge a website's value is by the time users spend on a website. The more time users spend on your site, the better the SEO and the higher your site rank in Google Search results.

Percentage of New Sessions

The percentage of new sessions refer to the first-time session’s percentage on your website in a specific timeframe. A higher percentage of new session means your targeted audience is finding your website and reaching out to it. On the other hand, a low percentage of new seasons shows not many new people are finding your site or are not interested enough to visit it. In this case, you need to improve your SEO or advertisement as well as make your site more engaging to attract new users.

Pages per Session

Pages per session are the total page views divided by the total number of sessions. Page per session tells you how your users are interacting with your site, the more pages they visit per session, the more time they spend on your website. 

Pages per session are directly connected with average session duration, the more pages a user visit the more time is spend on your site; hence, the higher the average session duration.


What Are Sessions and Users in Google Analytics?

A session is the period where a user is interacting with your website vs a user is someone who has had one or more sessions on your website. For instance, if one user enters your website three times from the same device but different times or days, it will count as one user but three sessions. 

Sessions are typically higher than users; moreover, the user is a relatively accurate number. Users and session are connected as the users’ number represent the people who visited your site at the given number of sessions.

Are Sessions and Visits the Same in Google Analytics?

Google Analytics used the terminology visits and unique visitors instead of users and sessions before apps started to gain traction. However, after the app evolution, marketers found it challenging to use the term visit as apps were supposed to be used instead of visited. Google roll out the new terminology “users” instead of “unique visitors” to make it easier to track the data from sites as well as from apps. Likewise, sessions are the same but the new terminology for visits. 

What Are Site Sessions?

A session is when a user is active on your site in a given timeframe; it includes all types of activities in that specific time period. A web session is referred to as the exchange in the series of HTTP requests and HTTP responses within a web browser and web server. A session in Google Analytics is a group of activities by a user in a specific period.

The Default Session Timeout Duration in Google Analytics Is How Many Minutes?

The default sessions timeout duration in Google Analytics is until 30 minutes of inactivity.

Gintaras Baltusevicius
Written by Gintaras Baltusevicius

Gintaras is a marketing enthusiast who is always eager to explore the most up-to-date issues in data marketing. He is always in search for new and unexplored angles to share with his readers.

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