How Are They Measured? haw Are Sessions in Google Analytics 2023

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What Are Sessions in Google Analytics?

A user’s interactions with your website over a specific time period are grouped into sessions in Google Analytics. A session is launched when a user first visits your website. And as part of that session, Google Analytics logs the “hits” they receive during this visit. The session expires after 30 minutes of inactivity or when the user leaves your website. Consider sessions as storage units for all the tasks and operations visitors carry out while on your website. sessions infographic

GA sessions could last for a few hours or longer.

Multiple hits (such as page views, button clicks, events, and transactions) can occur during a single session.

Alternatively, it might only count one page view.

Additionally, one user can record numerous sessions each day.

Sessions show you how long visitors stay on your website. Moreover, what people do while they are on your website.

Google Analytics Users vs. Sessions

A user in Google Analytics is a person who accesses your website and initiates a session.
The users metric keeps track of the number of people who visit your website. The sessions metric keeps track of how frequently those users visited your website.
A session cannot have more than one user, however a single user may record several sessions.
GA generally displays more sessions than users as a result. akin to this

users and sessions in GA

Google Analytics Sessions vs. Page Views

A page view (or “view” in GA 4) is a single occurrence of a user loading (or reloading) a page from your website.

A user typically begins a session with a page view.

As they surf your website, a user can cause many page views during a single session.

A single user can log numerous sessions and numerous page views for each session. Google Analytics frequently displays more page views than sessions as a result. additionally, more sessions than users.

When Will Google Analytics End a Session?

Google Analytics automatically ends a user’s session after 30 minutes of inactivity.
After 30 minutes of inactivity, a new session will start if the user returns.
On the other hand, if the user returns before the allotted time has passed, the initial session will continue.
The duration of a session is unlimited in Google Analytics 4.
Four Google Analytics
In Google Analytics 4, modify the session timeout settings as follows:
On your dashboard, click the “Admin” gear icon under the gear symbol.
Go to the “Property” column and choose “Data Streams.”

navigate to data streams

Select a web data stream. (You should see your website URL here.)

select a web data stream

On the next screen, scroll to the bottom and click “Configure tag settings.”

configure tag settings option

On the next screen, under “Settings,” click “Show all” to reveal more options.

see detailed settings

Click “Adjust session timeout.”

adjust session timeout option highlighted

Use the drop-downs to set your desired session timeout duration. Click “Save.”

save button highlighted

In GA 4, sessions can be as short as five minutes, or as long as seven hours and 55 minutes.

Differences Between Universal Analytics and Google Analytics 4

Because of how each platform ends sessions, the number of sessions you see in Universal Analytics and Google Analytics 4 may vary.

Universal Analytics will also automatically end a session at midnight (in accordance with your time zone settings) and start a new one, even though both analytics platforms will do so after 30 minutes of inactivity by default.

At midnight, Google Analytics 4 won’t start a fresh session.

Even though it is only one session, a session that lasts past midnight will count once for each day.

Additionally, whenever a user selects new campaign parameters in Universal Analytics, a new session will be initiated instantly.

This means that Universal Analytics will start a new session for the user whenever they switch their campaign source (e.g., enters the site through a different Google search term, an email link, a referral link, a pay-per-click link, etc.).

When the source of the campaign changes, GA 4 doesn’t start a new session.

Last but not least, Google Analytics 4 makes a session count estimate based on the number of session IDs assigned.

On the other hand, Universal Analytics uses sampling to infer session numbers for bigger data sets.

This indicates that there might be differences in the two sets of session data.

Engaged Sessions

Another new indicator offered by Google Analytics 4 is “engaged sessions.”

Sessions that continue at least 10 seconds, feature one or more conversion events, or have two or more page views are considered engaged sessions.

The metric is automatically filled in, and the 10-second threshold can be changed to a minute.


How to Find Sessions in Google Analytics

You can find session data for your website in both Universal Analytics and Google Analytics 4.

Universal Analytics

To check your site’s session count in Universal Analytics for a specific time frame:

Choose the “Audience” tab from the dashboard’s sidebar menu.

Next, select “Overview.”

Universal Analytics shows the overall number of sessions for a specific time period in the “Overview” report.

sessions in overview report

By default, Universal Analytics will provide data for the last seven days.

So you’ll need to adjust the time frame using the “Date Range” feature at the top-right of the page to see more data.

adjust the time frame

You can view data from the first day you set up the tool on your website to the current date.

You can also compare the number of sessions year-over-year or within specific periods.

Google Analytics 4

In Google Analytics 4, follow these steps to determine the number of sessions your website received during a specific time frame:

Choose the “Reports” tab from the sidebar menu on the dashboard.

Then choose the “Acquisition” option and choose “Traffic acquisition.”

Session information for the previous 28 days is by default available in the “Traffic acquisition” dashboard.

To see data for the time period you want to see, use the date range selector in the top right corner.

How to Use Google Analytics Sessions with Semrush

The Organic Traffic Insights tool compiles search information for the top landing pages under your domain into a single, accessible dashboard.

The tool will display metrics for the top landing pages on your domain as soon as you connect it to Google Analytics.

Total users, new users, sessions, pages per session, average session length, bounce rate, and even goal completions are among these indicators.

Additionally, data on the “not provided” keywords that GA is unable to report on can be seen in Organic Traffic Insights.

Combining information from these potent sources gives you access to precise information that can assist you enhance both the user experience and your organic search rankings.

Find Organic Traffic Insights under “Keyword Research” in the sidebar menu to access the tool:

Organic Traffic Insights

You’ll need to have a project created to use the tool.

If you don’t have a project, set one up by selecting the “Add new project” button at the top right of the screen.

add new project button

Create a new project for your website.

Open the Organic Traffic Insights tool and select “Set up.”

The tool will prompt you to connect your Google Analytics account.

(You can also connect your Google Search Console account for even more valuable insights.)

How Does Google Analytics Track Sessions?

Cookies are used by Google Analytics to identify unique users and monitor user sessions.

Google Analytics begins a session, places a cookie on the user’s browser, and gives the session an ID when a user accesses your website.

GA tracks the numerous hits (such as page views, clicks, purchases, etc.) as the user interacts with your website and records them as part of the session data.

GA captures the final session data when the user leaves your website or when the session expires.

How to Change Session Timeout Settings

Both Google Analytics 4 and Universal Analytics 4 allow you to modify the amount of time that users must remain inactive before their sessions expire.

But take into account the following before choosing a new session timeout duration:

If your website logs users out after a predetermined amount of inactivity, you might want to adjust the session timeout to correspond to that period of time.
Users may spend a lot of time interacting with the information on your site if it has a lot of it. Increase the session timeout duration if necessary.
Consider reducing the session timeout period if the material on your website is sparse.

Remember that changing the timeout settings will only effect data in the future if you do so.

Universal Analytics

To change session timeout settings in Universal Analytics:

Select the gear icon labeled “Admin” at the bottom left of your Google Analytics dashboard.

In the “Property” column, select “Tracking Info” and then “Session Settings.”

navigate to session settings

Under “Timeout Handling,” use the drop-down menus to set your desired “Session timeout.”

Click “Apply.”

timeout handling settings

In Universal Analytics, sessions can be as short as one minute or as long as four hours.