What is session in web analytics?

session in web analytics

Session in web analytics should be understood very well to understand web better. Several times I have heard and come across “Session”, what it means? Upto my knowledge “a session will have a particular time duration to do a task” it is so simple right.. I said my own definition for session to one of my friends. To my surprise my friend said “your definition for session gives only a little about it and it means a lot in Google Analytics”.

What?!? A lot in Google Analytics..?! what’s that…? what would be its definition other than mine. I argue, I wonder and my curiosity makes me to know more. Then I asked my friend to tell more about it, just to know what’s special about it. He started explaining.

A session in web analytics is a group of user interactions happen on the website that takes place within a particular time frame. Oh…it’s similar to my definition. But my friend said it gives a lot of useful data of the users of the website and we could know how the users behave on the website.

Really it’s amazing to know about the user’s behaviour of the website. My curiosity makes me to know more in detail about “session”. Then I asked my friend tell me more about it. 

My friend said, Let me break it down. If a visitor enters the website a session in web analytics begins. Google analytics is an excellent tool which records all the details about the visitor and his behaviour on the website. It is surprising right. Within a session a visitor can do a lot of things on the website like viewing web pages (clicking & scrolling), may fill out forms, may purchase some products and so on.

My friend was about to answer my question that “when a session will end?”. He said, as mentioned in the session definition we have a “time frame”. It is obvious that if a session begins and it will definitely have an end time. Particularly the end time (session time out) is customizable.  Oh..That’s great indeed! Then how long we can set the end time for a session? I asked.

A session can end because of three reasons. First is, after 30 minutes of inactivity that means a session ends when a visitor did nothing on the website for 30 minutes. More to our surprise we can set session duration from a minimum of 1 minute to a maximum of 4 hours. Date wise session duration setting is also available. Second is, at midnight which means it is common that a session can end because a new day is beginning. Third is, Campaign change.

I interrupted…I am very clear about the first and second reasons but what is “Campaign change?”  Cool, let me finish explaining it. Campaign change tells more about the visitors of the site come from different sources like Google, facebook or from other social media. Visitors may arrive the site by following a campaign link, say for example youtube ad link. If a visitor lands on the website by youtube ad link then Google Analytics records it as a session along with that campaign in its data. But the same visitor arrives the site through a different campaign, say for example instagram or facebook link, the first session ends automatically then the second session begins because of the different medium through which the visitor arrives the site. 

Again I interrupted and said, it is very interesting and I am amazed with the Session’s definition. Friend replied just to know how many sessions you have got is not really interesting. It gets more interesting when we compare it with month wise data i.e. to know more about the weakness and strengths of the content on the site, which drives the attention of visitors more, by which medium / source we get more traffic to the site, etc.,

Exactly, it is wonderful to know about “a session” today. It’s functionality digs up my interest to know more and compare with different session data in Google Analytics. Okay, thank you my friend for your clear explanations. Let me dive into Google Analytics to experience sessions.