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Google Analytics terms You Must Know – A Session

Hey, what’s up, guys?

In last blog post of this series, Google Analytics Terms You Must Know, we discussed, what is A User? In this post, we will discuss Google analytics term, A Session.

As usual, Google will measure a session different ways. Every session has an expiry. A session cannot be less than a minute and it can last maximum for 4 hours.

What is A Session in Google Analytics?

                A Session, in simple words, is time spent by a user on your website per visit. Now there could be more than 1 session per visit of a user. I will try and simplify this term for your understanding. I will elaborate further on this term in future. To make you understand this term easily we will take help of few examples. For the website in the example, we will call it x.com.

  • Example 1: I find a site through Google search, I visit it, x.com. I surf this website for 3 minutes before I quit.

Now, this was my first session on this website which lasted for 3 minutes.

  • Example 2: I visit the x.com through Google search, I surf the website for 3 minutes and start surfing other websites open in my browser.  I returned to x.com after 10 minutes and surf for another 5 minutes and close the browser.

Now, even though I visited this website in two different timeframes, this is my only one session on this website even though there was no activity on this website for 7 minutes from my end.

  • Example 3: Just like example number 2, I visit x.com, surf it for 3 minutes and start surfing other websites and returned to x.com after 40 minutes and surf for another 5 minutes and close the browser.

This activity of mine, very similar to example no 2, will show on Google analytics as 2 sessions. Why? The only difference between these 2 examples is, the time I returned to visit this website after inactivity on this website. In default, every session will last for 30 minutes if there is no activity on the site. So if I had returned to x.xom after 20 minutes or 25 minutes, this visit of mine would have recorded as only one session. If I continue surfing x.com for 40 minutes, It would still be one session. As I said earlier, a session can last for 4 hours maximum.

  • Example 4: I visit x.com which I found through Google search, I spend 5 minutes on x.com. I again visit the same site simultaneously but this time by clicking on Google Ads.

As you can see in above example, both visits happened within 30 minutes. But when I returned to the website by clicking on Google ad, the earlier session will end and it will trigger a new session as campaign source is changed. Google analytics will record different visits through different sources or referrers, it will end the active session and trigger a new session.

  • Example 5: I visit x.com at 11 PM and continued surfing for 2 hours. At 1 AM, I finished surfing and close the window.

As per the general rule, this visit should be recorded in Google analytics as 1 session with the duration of 2 hours. Google analytics will record this visit to x.xom as 2 sessions instead of 1. Confused? Yes, you read it right. Google analytics will record this visit as 2 sessions because a session will last until midnight. After midnight, a new session will start irrespective of the duration of your visit to a website before midnight. So apart from 30 minutes window for inactive time on the website, this is another rule for Google analytics to decide a session.

  • Example 6: I visit the x.com and navigate to the different website through the link on x.com. But I returned to x.com within 30 minutes.

In the above scenario, above activity of mine with concerned to x.com will record as only 1 session.

What we have discussed so far is how Google Analytics will measure a session. By default, the inactive session will last maximum for 30 minutes. You can change this default setting in the admin area of Google Analytics as per your requirement. It is recommended that you set this time to average duration per session. If your campaign or objective demands, you change the default duration to whatever is convenient to you.

Google Analytics Report
Google Analytics Report

Other important stats

There are other related stats you need to focus on in order to improve the duration of a session on your website. As the duration per session improves, there are more chances of conversions taking place or getting leads. Some of the other stats you should focus on are.

1.Number of Session per user:

Number of sessions per user is calculated by this method, ‘Total number of sessions/total users’

The number of sessions per user signifies the quality of content on your site. So to improve this number, you need to improve the overall content of your website. More the useful content to the users, it will result in more number of sessions per user.

Session per user
Session per user

2.Pages per session:

To know pages per session, simply divide total page views by total sessions.

This number is as important as the number of sessions per users because it again tells you about the quality of your pages on your website. If you improve on pages of your website or blog posts on your blog, this number will improve. When the user likes a particular post on your blog, it is very much possible that the user will explore your other blog posts as well increasing the number of pages per session. These stats show the engagement of user with your contents on your website or blog.

Pages per session
I hope this post will help you. I will cover these all Google Analytics terms in this series. In next series, we will discuss these terms in-depth. Check the part-1 of this series in case if you have missed it. Do subscribe to the blog so that you won’t miss any of my post in future. Have a great time!

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