Bop Design Advises Marketers on Google Analytics Sessions

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B2B marketing and web design firm shares functionality around new Google Analytics Universal metrics.

Google Analytics

Google Analytics

When designing and developing a website, properly measuring a website’s ongoing performance is an important step to ensuring your marketing plan is giving you desired results.

Effective this month, Google Analytics moved their new measurement upgrade, Universal Analytics, out of beta testing and available to all account owners. With it came some welcoming upgrades in addition to new metric terminology.

“When designing and developing a website, properly measuring a website’s ongoing performance is an important step to ensuring your marketing plan is giving you desired results,” says Jeremy Durant, business principal at Bop Design. “Since the introduction and roll out of the new Google Analytics Universal, account owners now see a dramatic change in possible the most important metric you can pull. 'Visits' are now 'Sessions'.”

Durant continues to explain the session and how it impacts measurement:

What Is a Session?

A session is defined as a group of interactions one user takes within a given time frame on your website. Google Analytics defaults that time frame to 30 minutes. “Meaning whatever a user does on your website (e.g. browses pages, downloads resources, purchases products) before they leave equals one session. In short, the Sessions metrics is a unified way to report ‘Visits’ and ‘Active Users’,” says Durant.

Durant adds that session reporting is better than “visits,” as users can accurately gauge if individuals are truly interacting with your website. Since a session times out, “passive” visitors won’t distort data. For example, visitors who keep a website open in a separate tab and continue browsing elsewhere won’t be counted past the 30 minute session marker.

Can Session report be modified?

As stated earlier, Sessions default to measuring 30-minute increments, but can be as little as one minute to as long as four hours. Google recommends thinking of the following when considering changing the time of a session:

  • If the site logs a user out after a certain amount of inactivity
  • If the site houses lengthy content that you anticipate the user spending time on
  • If a campaign is expected to run for less than two years (this is specific to campaign timing, not individual sessions)

“If a website meets any of the three points above, it’s wise to change your Session timeout handling to track user accurately. Otherwise, use your current average time spent on site as a baseline for what your timeout amount should be,” says Durant.

Are there other modifications to consider?

Within Universal Analytics, account holders can exclude specific referral traffic from Session reporting. The default reports any referral traffic as a new session, which the majority of the time is an accurate assumption. “If you’re a B2B website that uses a third party web application, such as a scheduling provider or customer portal, excluding this URL in your Google Analytics will keep the entire visit within one session,” says Durant.


Bop Design is a San Diego marketing and web design agency with offices also in Orange County, CA and the New York metro area. Specializing in B2B, Bop Design creates holistic marketing plans geared toward lead generation and business development. Bop Design offers services in branding, logo design, website design and development, responsive web design, SEO, PPC, social media and content marketing.

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Jeremy Durant
Bop Design
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