Do you know the difference between users, views, and sessions in Google Analytics? Discover, without complications, in this article!
Web Analytics is the process used to measure, collect, analyze, and report on web browsing data for the purpose of understanding and optimizing the use of websites, blogs, and other types of online pages. The best known and most commonly used is Google Analytics because it is quite complete and free.
However, this does not mean that it is an easy-to-use tool, as many of its metrics are not so simple to understand and this is what makes many companies take the wrong steps on the internet when setting up online campaigns and actions.
For example, there are those who think that the biggest indicator of success on the web is being indexed to many keywords . Of course that’s a good sign, but what’s the point in having this indexing if the number of monthly visitors to your page is low ?
There are also those who are guided precisely by the amount of visitors, but visits to a site only become meaningful when part of them becomes sales and this only happens when the user experience is positive. After all, no one buys or becomes a customer of a company over the internet after browsing a bad page, isn’t it?
So looking at your site’s bounce rate, that is, the percentage of people coming in and out, is also very important, as it indicates how good or bad their experience has been on your pages. Equally valid is whether these visits are from real people or from robots that click on sites as if they were people .
So much information to look at in Web Analytics, and at first you need to understand the difference between views, users, and sessions, as many confuse all three when accessing Google Analytics.
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What is Google Analytics?
Google Analytics is designed to help website developers and digital marketers monitor the online performance of their pages , so it’s not a problem-solving service on its own, it just helps do the monitoring to find ways on how to solve them.
Therefore, GA has brought a huge advantage to marketing teams that need this data to measure a campaign’s success rates, especially when it needs to show reports to a customer or the company they work for.
This is another advantage of the tool: for all measurements there are reports that can be viewed and exported. This makes it easier to know how many people came to the site, even how many first or recurring.
This is, by the way, one of the most viewed data by Google Analytics users: number of new and recurring visitors. Even those with little experience with the tool have no difficulty accessing and understanding this metric, as they simply have to login and, within “Target Audience,” access “Overview”. There will be a pie chart showing how many visitors are new — that is, who first came to the site — and how many are recurring, that is, who visited it more than once.
Depending on the company’s bias, this information is very important because a retail e-commerce, for example, needs many visits to generate more sales. Therefore, having a high number of new visitors is interesting.
This same GA page still shows us the number of sessions, users, and views, and this is where a lot of people get confused because they think they have the same function or that they are not as relevant as the number of visitors, which is a mistake because if it weren’t important these metrics wouldn’t be there. So let’s untangle each one and explain their differences.
What are sessions?
Session is the set of actions users perform within your site or blog, so is an essential metric for how well your visitors are interacting with your content .
For example, let’s say someone came to a page on your site and kept it open for half an hour. If he has been inactive all this time, the session ends and counts as one. On the other hand, if after that time he returns, it counts as two sessions.
That is, the session is only computed if the user leaves a page or is inactive for more than 30 minutes. If during this time it is active, the session counts as one.
As a result, the same user can open many sessions throughout the day, week, or month. They gather all actions performed by the same user on your site.
To clarify how Google Analytics calculates session metrics, let’s look at two examples:
A person does a Google search and finds an article from their blog. After reading it, she keeps browsing her blog, reads other articles until she comes to a call-to-action that leads to a landing page where she downloads an ebook All within 30 minutes or less, so this corresponds to one session.
In another example, the person finds the article and leaves it open in their browser while performing other activities. Thus, the page is static for more than half an hour. At the end of this time, the session expires and when the person returns to the site, they will start a second session.
Therefore, a user can open multiple sessions over the course of a day because they gather all the actions he has performed within his site. And speaking of user…
What are users?
All visitors who interact with your site or blog during a certain period of time are users.
This metric was once called a visitor — which is why some people confuse the two terms to this day — but today it is divided between users and active users .
Therefore, a user is not just a visitor, but someone who has come to your site and navigated at least one page. Cookies stored in their browser allow the identification of the same user who constantly visits the same page.
As such, active users are those who log in to the site for a certain time. Even if he accesses multiple pages, he will remain a single user.
Therefore, all data stored in the browser of the people visiting your site determines which users are active, which pages they visited, their location, and other data that may be important to your marketing diagnosis 19459007].
Google Analytics calculates user metrics based on precalculated data and immediately calculated data .
Precalculated data takes into account the number of sessions that have been done within a given time period, as the calculated data immediately is more complete as it uses more variables within the report.
What are views?
Page views, also known as Pageviews , refer to how many pages of your site were visited. Of the three metrics presented, it is the least important since, in practice, it is a vanity metric.
For example, let’s say your site has around 50,000 pageviews . This does not mean that 50,000 people visited it because, as we saw above, the same person can visit your site multiple times, so they can view it many times as well.
So those 50,000 pageviews can suddenly match 100 users. This is very important data when you consider the ROI , because if your business converts 1% of its online visitors into customers, the example is converting 1% out of 100 and not 50,000.
Actually it is difficult to pinpoint which number is right as this may vary for each type of business as well as the purpose that the site has. Portals that offer ad space pay more attention to views, as overall traffic is essential to selling advertising space on the site. For companies that use websites to generate visitors and leads, this is the least important of the metrics.
So it’s critical to consider whether the optimal conversion rate for your business matches the number of visitors your site has. So keep an eye on the metrics your business should follow when building marketing and sales strategies to identify those that are best suited to its goals.
Now that you know the difference between users, views, and sessions, it’s easier to identify the importance of these metrics in your Google Analytics, right? However, GA has many other functions that can be useful for identifying data and statistics that underlie your next marketing and sales actions within your company.
And if you want to know more about these other functions and how GA works in its entirety, check out our complete guide to using this tool!