Data Analysis

What are Users and Sessions in Google Analytics?

I do Google Analytics training sessions very often, and often for non-analysts. One of the questions that pop up most often is something that might seem basic for full time web analysts. Namely, just what are Users and Sessions? And what is the difference between Users and Sessions in Google Analytics? What do those metrics mean and how do Google Analytics track and count Users and Sessions?

Many people think Users are the same thing as people. Which – at its core – is wrong. Sessions are more easily understood. But the relationship between the two seems to be difficult to grasp for many. People who’ve been working with ecommerce for years also wonders whatever happened to good old metrics such as Unique Visitors and Visits. Not that they understand those two metrics any better.

So, in this post, I want to share the explanation I usually give in my training sessions and workshops. If you’re an analyst or consultant yourself, I hope this will make it easier for you to explain the whole Users vs. Sessions thingy to your colleagues. And if you work in Sales or Marketing and don’t consider yourself a Google Analytics expert, then I hope you’ll learn the definitions and differences here. Continue reading