What are users, sessions and interactions in Google Analytics?

Users are the visitors who visit your website or mobile app. Sessions are the time they spend on your website or mobile app. Interactions are what the users do while they are on your website or mobile app. For example, think of your website as a restaurant. You’ll have customers (users) who come in once and never come back. You might also have a returning customer (users) who comes to your restaurant multiple times (sessions). For each session, the user will do something like look at the menu, order food, eat their food or pay the bill (interactions). Individual interactions are also called hits. Some users may look at the menu and leave right away because it’s too expensive. Others might spend more time and have more interactions with your website (multiple hits).

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How are sessions reported in Google Analytics?

A user can have multiple sessions. Sessions can occur on the same day or over several days, weeks or months. When a session ends, there is an opportunity to start another session. By default, Google Analytics ends a session when there hasn’t been any activity from the user in the past 30 minutes. This is based on the session timeout settings. The next time Google Analytics detects a hit from the user, a new session is created. For example, a user lands on a page and idles for 2 hours. After 30 minutes, the session will end. When the user comes back to their computer and interacts with the page again, a new session will be created. Two sessions were counted by Google Analytics. You can change the session timeout based on your business needs from 1 minute to 4 hours.

To change your session timeout, go to Admin and browse to the property you want to change the session timeout for. Click on Tracking Info and click on Session Settings. Here you’ll be able to change the session timeout and campaign timeout.

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What is audience overview in Google Analytics?

Audience overview gives you a glance of user metrics. When you log into your Google Analytics and view a property, by default the audience overview will be displayed. In the audience overview, you will see a line graph of sessions over the last 30 days. Each dot on the graph shows you how many sessions were reported that day. You can move your mouse over each dot for the exact number of sessions for each date. You can also change it from day to hourly, week or month. You can also change the date range from 30 days to however many days, months or years you’d like to look at.

Below the line graph, you’ll see metrics for the following:
1. Sessions – total number of sessions to your site
2. Users – total number of unique users to your site
3. Pageviews – total number of pages viewed by users
4. Pages per Session – average number of pages viewed per session
5. Average Session Duration – average session length of all users
6. Bounce Rate – percent of single-page sessions
7. New Users – percent of total users who visited your site for the first time

You’ll also find a pie chart of new and returning users and some dimensions about your users such as language, country/territory, city, browser, operating system, service provider, mobile screen resolution and more. There are many other audience reports you can take a look at such as: Demographics, Interests, Geo, Behavior, Technology, Mobile, Custom and Users Flow.

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