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What Is ‘Session’ In Google Analytics

Published Date: October 16, 2018
What Is ‘Session’ In Google Analytics


In today’s internet era, merely developing the website will not suffice in achieving the digital goals, until the performance is measured. The beauty of digital marketing lies in measuring the success rate of your campaign. It can be done by several metrics available in Google Analytics Tool. One of the key metrics is ‘sessions’, – which we digital marketers often gauge daily. Let’s walk through these ‘sessions’ in Google Analytics and how to interpret them.

What Is Sessions In Google Analytics

‘Session’ in Google Analytics

A session is an interaction between a user and a website (browse pages, download resources and purchase products) in a given timeframe. In Google Analytics, ‘sessions’ are calculated as the number of hits recorded for a user in a given time frame. Hits here can be anything (pageview, screen view, event or transaction). A user can generate more than one session.

Let’s understand this definition with an example: 

A user performs a Google search, finds an interesting story and visits an online news site around 12 pm. They further navigate to different pages in the first 15 minutes. The user then takes a break and later resumes reading from where they left off at 2 pm. All of the user’s actions were on the same browser, and device and user did not clear the cookies.

In this case, Google Analytics will count it as 2 sessions and 1 user

User 1: Google Analytics knows that the user was the same person because the user used the same browser and did not clear the cookies

Sessions 2: First session ended after the inactivity of 30 minutes (during the break). The user’s further action was calculated in the second session, which started immediately after the break.

When does Google Analytics Session Expire?

By Default: Session in Google analytics ends within 30 minutes of inactivity.


By Midnight: Session in Google Analytics automatically expires at midnight. For example, if a user enters a website around 11:45 pm, the session automatically ends at 11:59:59 pm, even if the user continues to engage on the website. At 12 am, a new session is counted for the same user. In this case, Google Analytics will count, 1 user and 2 sessions.


By Campaign Source: Google Analytics sessions expires when the user uses different campaign source to view the website like organic, paid, referral and social.

How to decide the duration of Google Analytics Session?


There is no such convention to keep the session length to 30 minutes. The length can be changed depending on the user’s activity. In some cases, users will take a lot of time to engage on a website.

For example – Let’s say on an average a user takes 2 hours. In this case, a session length of 30 minutes will not help in taking any actionable decision. In this case, it is necessary to set the session timeout to match the average time spent by a user. If an average time spent is of 2 minutes, keep the session length to 2 minutes.


Now have a look at your sessions and see if you got anything interesting!

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