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Session is defined as the period of the time a user is active on your site or app.

What are Google Analytics Sessions?

A session is a period of time in which a user is active on a website. A session begins when a user lands on a website and ends when they leave the website or when the session timeout is reached (typically after 30 minutes of inactivity). 

During a session, Google Analytics collects every interaction a user makes on a website within a specific time frame, including the number of pageviews, screen views, transactions, etc.

A session is among the top 15 metrics every marketing leader must measure in Google Analytics.

When will Google Analytics end a session? 

Each session will end after a certain period of time, and below is the list. 

  1. Time-based expiration (ends after 30 minutes of inactivity)
  2. End-of-day expiration (terminate at the end of the day based on your time zone)
  3. Campaign-based expiration (ends every time a user's campaign source changes)

Time-based Expiration

If users do not interact with the website for 30 minutes, their session will end automatically.

When visitors leave the website open without doing anything, their session expires in 30 minutes. However, if the user returns after 20 minutes, clicks on a link, or scrolls the page, the session is extended by another 30 minutes.

End of day Expiration

A session will automatically terminate at the end of the day and according to the time zone settings.

For example, If a user visits a page at 11:40 PM, the session will end automatically at 11:59:59 PM, and new sessions will start at 12:00 PM.

Campaign Based Expiration

A session will expire if a user returns to a website from different campaign sources like Google, Facebook, and Email.

For example, Google Analytics stores information when a user visits a website through a specific link from the campaign. The first session will expire if that same user visits the page through a different campaign.

How to change Session timeout setting in Google Analytics?

When setting the session timeout in Google Analytics, be sure to pay attention to the default value and how it works. By default, a user's session expires after 30 minutes of inactivity—but that can be changed based on your preferences.

If a user visits your website and doesn't engage with any of your web pages for 30 minutes, Google Analytics will consider that session to be ended. However, you don't have to stick to this default setting. 

To know more about how to optimize session timeout, read our blog on how to optimize session timeout in Google Analytics‍

Why is it essential to track Sessions?

Here are some reasons why tracking sessions are important in Google Analytics.

  1. Measuring website engagement: Tracking sessions in GA allow you to measure how engaged your website visitors are. You can see how long visitors spend on your site, how many pages they view, and how frequently they return.
  2. Analyzing traffic sources: You can use session data to analyze where your website visitors are coming from, whether it’s from organic search, paid search, social media, or other sources. This information can help you optimize your marketing campaigns and focus on the channels that are driving the most traffic.
  3. Understanding user behavior: Tracking sessions allow you to see how visitors navigate your site, where they drop off, and where they convert. This data can help you identify areas of your website that need improvement and optimize the user experience.
  4. Measuring website performance: By tracking sessions, you can measure key website performance metrics such as bounce rate vs. exit rate and conversion rate. These metrics can help you evaluate the effectiveness of your website and make data-driven decisions to improve performance.

What is a good average session Benchmark?

According to the research, a reasonable benchmark for average session duration is between 2-3 minutes. Any session that lasts longer than three minutes is considered a good average.

What is the difference between users and sessions in Google Analytics?

In Google Analytics, users and sessions are two different metrics used to measure website activity.

A user is a unique individual who visits a website. Google Analytics identifies users with a unique ID, called a Client ID. The same user can visit a website more than once and will be counted as one user.

A session, on the other hand, is a period of time in which a user is active on a website. A session begins when a user lands on a website and ends when they leave the website or when the session timeout is reached (typically after 30 minutes of inactivity).

Here are some key differences between users and sessions:

  • Users are unique individuals, while sessions are periods of activity.
  • A user can have multiple sessions, but a session can only have one user.
  • Users are often used to measure the overall reach and engagement of a website, while sessions are used to measure the frequency and duration of user activity.

What is the Average Session duration in GA?

Average session duration is a metric that measures the average length of sessions on a website. GA begins counting a session from the moment the user lands on the site and continues counting until the session ends.

Google Analytics calculates average session duration by dividing the total duration of all sessions ( in seconds) during a specified time frame by the total number of sessions during that same time frame.

Average session duration formula
Average session duration formula

Average session duration in GA
Average session duration in GA

What is Engaged session in GA4?

GA4 has removed bounce rate as a metric from the interface and replaced it with Engagement rate metrics. Engaged Sessions offer a deeper insight into how visitors interact with the content, giving a more nuanced understanding of their behaviors.

The number of sessions that lasted longer than 10 seconds had a conversion event or had 2 or more page or screen views.

It is possible to extend engaged sessions from 10 seconds to 60 seconds.

Engaged session in GA4
Engaged session in GA4

‍How to measure the Session in Google Analytics?

To measure the session, first, open Google Analytics, then in the left-hand column, select the audience tab, then an overview.

In the Overview report, GA displays the total number of sessions per specific period.

Sessions in GA
Sessions in Google Analytics

How to measure the session in Google Analytics 4?

To measure sessions In GA4, first, go to reports, then click on the acquisition, then select the traffic acquisition there, you will see the sessions reports.

Sessions in GA4
Sessions in GA4

How do you visualize sessions in Dashboard?

In Dataflo, we segment data based on the session duration, % of a new session, session per user, and session by channel, which will help you analyze this metric in a more detailed way.

Take a look at the data visualization for more on how to track sessions in a Dataflo dashboard.

Session in Dataflo Dashboard

Session duration in Dataflo Dashboard

Percentage of new Session in Dataflo Dashboard

Session per User in Dataflo Dashboard

Session by Channel in Dataflo Dashboard

Frequently Asked Questions
How long is a session on GA4 ?
What is the difference between session and pageviews?
What is an engaged session?

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