Google Analytics alters key terms

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You may have recently logged into Google Analytics and noticed something different. Where it used to say things like “visits” and “unique visitors,” now there are “sessions” and “users.”

Google Analytics

What’s happening?

Try not to worry. This change incorporates data into a single reporting view. Previously, data from sources like the web or mobile applications was separated. Now, the information is contained in one place. Consider it a simplification.

For most, it’s just a vocabulary change. What was once a “visit” is now a “session.” Google considers a session a “period of time a user is actively engaged with your website, app, etc.”

A “user” is a visitor that has at least one session within a selected date range. This label includes both new and returning users and combines the previously used labels of “visitor” and “active user.” (On a side note, over the next few weeks Google will be rolling out their new Universal Analytics, which will include the ability to track users as they switch between devices. You know what that means… no more triple-counting the same user as he switches from his work computer to his mobile phone to his laptop!)

Anyone wanting to dig deeper into the data can do so, using the same tools as before, such as filters, custom dashboards and reports, or secondary dimensions. An easy way to get comfortable with the new terminology is to spend some time clicking around your Google Analytics dashboard. We think you’ll find that you’re an expert in “sessions” and “users” in no time at all.

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