A session is a period of user interaction with your website or app. A session counts when a user is active on your site and will not count them again unless they are inactive for 30 minutes.

June 22, 2023

Understanding sessions

Here at Tydo, the definition of a session is this: a period of user interaction with your website or app. A session counts when a user is active on your site and will not count them again unless they are inactive for 30 minutes. (eg - a single user visiting a site twice within 30 minutes would count as 1 session)

Within Google Analytics, “a session initiates when a user either opens your app in the foreground or views a page or screen and no session is currently active [for example, if an earlier session timed out].”

A new session can last as long as a user is active on your ecommerce website – if there are 30 minutes of inactivity, there will be a session timeout as a default. Because a session starts with a user's interaction with your website or app, the data will show up slightly differently than if you’re tracking data via Universal Analytics (UA).

GA4 allows you to track more data points as it allows for cross-tracking across web and app. Metrics such as sessions help deepen your understanding of actions taken online and how they drive sales or conversions.

Additional benefits of tracking the number of sessions in Google Analytics include:

  • Analyzing user behavior over a selected time
  • Tracking engagement rates, time spent on your app or website
  • Understanding the correlation between sessions and conversions

How to calculate sessions

Calculating sessions is done by monitoring metrics provided through Google Analytics 4’s admin dashboard or analytics account.


Suppose Molly visits your online sneaker store to purchase a new pair of shoes.

She lands on the homepage, browses through different styles, and eventually finds a pair she likes. Molly clicks on the item, reads the details, and checks the sizing information before adding it to her cart.

After she adds the shoes to her shopping cart, she continues to browse the website. After looking around, she returns to her cart to complete the transaction. Molly enters her shipping information, selects the payment method, and places the order. At this point, the session ends, and she leaves the website.

Using this example, the first session started when she landed on the homepage for the first time and ended with the completed purchase. During that single session, multiple events were tracked, including page views, product clicks, adding the product to a shopping cart, and completing the purchase.


Sessions is like a trip to Trader Joe’s.

Between the time you enter and exit the store, your visit counts as a singular session regardless of the actions you took inside the store (like stocking up on the Mandarin Orange Chicken).

With Google Analytics 4, you’re gathering data on website metrics, which helps you track the performance and efficacy of your site and your marketing channels (i.e. paid ads through Google Ads and SEO).

Tracking session data in Google Analytics allows you to see what’s working in terms of messaging or promotions featured within different digital marketing campaigns. 

For example, suppose a customer visits your website three times (for three sessions), and on the third session, they make a purchase. In that case, it indicates that marketing campaigns are attractive and effective at driving a visitor to your ecommerce site and to make a purchase.

Read more about sessions

Using Google Analytics to track sessions

Tracking Google Analytics sessions gives you insight into how long a user spends on your app or website, which is also known as user engagement.

To track this data, Google Analytics begins tracking (in milliseconds) the session time as soon as the user lands on your website or app.

From Google Analytics 4, you can see where movements are made during engaged sessions; for example, when a user lands on your home page, scrolls up or down, navigates to other pages, and leaves the website within a given time frame. When no movement is tracked for 30 minutes, a session automatically times out.

Benefits of tracking sessions

Tracking sessions in Google Analytics offers insight into how your overall marketing and advertising strategy is working. You can see which sessions originate from various marketing channels (such as search, email marketing, or paid ads), and then you can measure their impact on traffic, conversions, and revenue. Then, you can leverage that data to optimize your budget. 

Sessions can also show you where to make some adjustments. For example, you can notice if your website performance has slowed, or if there are broken links that are confusing your customers. A low session rate (and subsequent high bounce rate) could pinpoint issues that need to be addressed. 

A few key benefits in tracking sessions come from understanding your customer:

  • Improved targeting: By getting super clear on your ideal customer, you can start to think about personalization. You might tailor messaging to attract customers to your brand or products through optimized landing pages. After that, there’s the opportunity to nurture the relationship and use targeted campaigns to encourage consistent purchases and keep the brand top-of-mind.
  • Enhanced user experience: The better your website and product offerings, the more likely a shopper will return to your app or website and purchase. Collecting data is crucial in learning how to best serve your customers (and give them an impressive customer experience).
  • Smarter conversion tracking: When you track sessions, you can see which visitors turn into customers. Then, you can optimize your sales funnel accordingly. Looking at conversion rates and the most effective marketing channels will empower you to make data-driven decisions to increase conversions.