Every website owner knows that Google Analytics is one of the most important tools you need to track your website performance and user engagement, which helps you make informed decisions about your marketing and business strategy. For example, if Google Analytics shows that your bounce rate has spiked significantly, you’ll know you need to rework your landing page or rethink your call-to-action in order to get better conversion rates. However, there’s no guarantee that Google Analytics will always be there for you to help with this kind of insight.
What is Google Analytics?
Defining Sessions in Google Analytics
A visitor session is the period of time between when a user visits a website and when they leave. A session can last as long as the user is engaged on the site, or it can be as short as 1 second if they click away from your site before interacting with anything.
A session starts when a new visitor views any page on your site and ends after 30 minutes of inactivity.
A website may have multiple sessions per visitor, but this will depend upon how long they spend browsing the different pages on your site. When you define sessions in Google Analytics, you should define them according to how you would like them to be counted. If you want sessions to count after 10 seconds of inactivity, then set that duration within your settings.
How does GA identify sessions?
When a user visits a website, Google Analytics will assign this event as a session. A session is usually when a user stays on the site for more than 30 minutes. If they stay on the site for less than 30 minutes and then come back, that would be considered two sessions. These data points are then collected and put into reports that you can use to analyze your website traffic over time, which can help you decide how to improve your site design or increase engagement with your content.
While there are many ways that GA can identify sessions, one way is by looking at the length of time between pageviews.
Ways to identify GA sessions
One way to identify a Google Analytics session is by looking at the timestamp. All sessions should have timestamps that show when they began and ended. If you see two or more sessions with the same timestamp, it means that GA is unable to identify those sessions correctly. The other option for identifying a GA session is by looking at the user agent string. Each user agent has its own unique string, which can be seen in the console of your browser. If you find multiple cases of the same user agent strings, it means that GA cannot identify those sessions accurately either.
When might GA not be able to identify a session?
One of the best features of Google Analytics is its ability to identify sessions. This is the simplest way for an organization or business to understand who, what, and how much traffic it receives. It also gives valuable insight into where new traffic is coming from and how long visitors are staying on the site. There are many different ways in which a session can be interrupted, but some of the most common reasons include:
1:A user changes their device or browser 2
2:A user closes their browser window or tab
3:The visitor navigates away from the page
4:The visitor clicks out of a pop-up/new window or tab
Users vs. Sessions in Google Analytics
In Google Analytics, a user is an individual who visits your site on one or more occasions. A session is the period of time between when the user initiates a new visit and when 30 minutes elapses without any activity. In other words, sessions are groups of users who come to your site and then leave without staying for at least 30 minutes.
This means that if you have 100 visits in a day but only 10 visitors stay for more than 30 minutes, you will be able to identify 90 sessions in your analytics data.
Where to find Users and Sessions — and what to do next
It is unclear when sessions will stop being tracked by Google Analytics, but if it does happen there are other tools that can help you identify sessions. The first thing you should do is compare your traffic sources and find the one that has the most sessions and try to identify the issue with that specific channel. If this doesn’t work, you might want to consider installing a new analytics tool or taking a peek at some of these alternatives: Clicky, KISSmetrics, Piwik, and Woopra. All four of these offer free trials, so if you’re in search for an alternative just go through the options until you find what works best for your business needs. Remember that each tool may not be compatible with every type of website so make sure to research beforehand and see which option will suit you best!
Google analytics is a powerful tool for understanding user behavior on your site. But, it may be time to start thinking about other options. As more and more internet users begin using mobile devices, there will be less of a need for the tracking methods that Google is so well known for. This means that in order to keep up with the changing face of online marketing, you may want to consider alternatives like app analytics or website analytics. While these options can be tricky and overwhelming at first, they offer an incredible amount of insight into which aspects of your site are most popular with customers.