Google Analytics Changes How Sessions Are Tracked

Google Analytics is making more changes to increase the accuracy of the data they provide. The latest change impacts the way Google Analytics tracks sessions.

Currently sessions end when more than 30 minutes between pageviews have elapsed for a visitor and at the end of the day. Those two items will still trigger the end of a session. However, Google Analytics has also ended a session if a visitor closed their browser. This will now change to end a session if any traffic source value for a visitor changes.

Let’s take a look at how this could change your data.

Scenario: A visitor comes to your site from the organic search results, bookmarks your site, then leaves to research the competition. Less than 30 minutes later, they search for a different keyword, see your pay per click ad and click on it.

In the old version, this would count as only 1 visit and 1 source. In the new version, it will count as 2 visits, with 2 different sources, and 2 keywords showing up in your keyword report. (And it eliminates those pesky keywords with 0 visits that show up in Google Analytics.)

The data from Google Analytics will be more accurate, especially if you have visitors who like to shop around a bit before buying. And, you’ll be able to more accurately see which keywords were used and how visitors behaved using those keywords.

Google says the change should be especially helpful if you use their  multi-channel funnels. Google said they expected this change to have less than a 1% change on traffic, but there was a little bug that may have inflated those numbers initially. They have since fixed that issue. (SEOmoz has a great post about that if you want to read more.)

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