Google Analytics can provide you with a lot of information about a website including its traffic, users, sessions, goals, and much more. It is confusing for many people to understand the fundamental difference between ‘Users’ and ‘Sessions’. In its simplest form, sessions represent the number of visits, and users represent the number of individuals who visit. Here is an example:
Users are the unique visitors that come to your website. Visitors are tracked each time they visit a particular website by Google Analytics ‘User’ metrics. Multiple visits to a website using the same device or browser are considered one visit by Google.
Users are tracked by Google Analytics either as ‘new users’ or ‘returning users’. New users are the users visiting the website for the first time. A returning visitor is one, who has already visited the website previously and visits it again sometime later or even days later.
In contrast, Google Analytics tracks the same user visiting the website using a different device as a new user. If the cookies in the browser are deleted and the user visits using the same browser, GA will track this as a unique user again.
A session represents the number of visits to a website. When a visitor visits the website 20 times during the day, Google Analytics records these as 20 sessions but the user remains the same. In contrast, if the user spends two consecutive hours on the website without a break, GA counts this as a single session.
While GA tracks sessions in several ways, there are some surprises along the way. If the website is inactive for more than half an hour, GA will end the session. GA tracks the same user’s subsequent visit as a new session.
The number of visitors and the number of sessions are both equally important metrics for a website to track. These metrics provide insight into how an audience perceives a website. The website can be modified based on these metrics.
Assuming that a user returns to the website several times, and the sessions also increase, it is obvious that the website is user-friendly, engaging, and worthwhile enough to keep users coming back.
A declining user base and sessions indicate that the website requires significant changes to retain its audience. Know what’s working and what needs to be improved on your website with GA ‘User and Session’ metrics. To learn more about Google Analytics for your website, contact Reposition today!