What are Sessions?

Sessions – A metric in Google Analytics that measures one user interacting with a website during a given period of time, which Google defaults to 30 minutes. A session is not dependent on how many pages are viewed, so if a person goes to a website and looks around at different pages for 20 minutes, it would count as 1 session.

This implicates that it can end after a certain period and that you can adjust when the session ends. A session can end because of one of three reasons:

  1. After 30 minutes of inactivity
  2. At midnight
  3. Campaign change
  1. After 30 minutes of inactivity

By default, a session ends when a user did nothing on your site for 30 minutes straight. For example, a user looks at a page on your site, then reads a blog post and leaves that open without doing anything on that page for 30 minutes, the session ends. If after, for instance, 29 minutes a user interacts with the page, by clicking on a link or a menu item or something like that, the very same session is extended by another 30 minutes. So, every time you interact with the site, the session is extended. If you don’t do anything for 30 minutes, it ends.

There are cases where 30 minutes is too short. If you have very long articles, for instance, people need more time than just those 30 minutes. There are also cases in which 30 minutes is too long, for instance for product pages in a shop. Luckily you can adjust the session timeout. Go to the admin section, at property level you’ll see an item about Tracking info. There you can find the settings: Before drawing conclusions, please check the date range you’ve set. Check for a month or compare a couple of months to see if the duration doesn’t change that much. You can use this information to set the right session timeout. Usually, it makes the most sense to set it at the average duration.

  1. At midnight

The second reason a session can end is simply that a new day is beginning. If a user is on your website and reads a post at 11:58 PM, for instance, that ends at 11:59:59 PM and a new session begins at 12:00 PM.

  1. Campaign change

Users of your site come from different sources, like Google, Facebook or email. Sometimes they arrive on your site following a specific campaign link, for instance, if you’re running an AdWords campaign or you’ve added a utm_campaign parameter to a URL in your newsletter. Let’s say a visitor lands on your website by a certain AdWords paid keyword, then Google Analytics stores that campaign in its data. But if that same user goes to your site via a different campaign, the first session ends, and a new session starts.



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