Google Analytics Changes “Visits” to “Sessions”

Have you noticed some changes in the way your Google Analytics data is displayed? If you caught the changes to the phrasing in the analytic program before they were announced, you aren't the only one. Astute users noticed the difference before Google made its official announcement.

First of all, don't panic! This isn't a major algorithm update like Penguin or Panda; it's just a change in the terminology used in Google Analytics reports. This blog will outline the modifications Google made and help you understand what they mean for you.

Here's a rundown of exactly what changes were made in Google Analytics:

  • Visits are now Sessions
  • Unique visitors are now Users
  • Visitors web metric and Active Users app are now unified by the same name
  • Metrics, dimension, and segment names are now the same for web and app data 

And a screenshot of the new wording within Google Analytics:

Google Analytics Changed From Visits to Sessions
 

What This Means For You

It doesn't matter if you're an analytic expert or analytic newbie; however gentle, the changes will represent a learning curve.

The average Google Analytics user will only encounter slight annoyance as she gets used to the new names; a sticky note on your computer can help you keep track of the changes until you become accustomed to them. However, other users will need to make decisions about the way they get data from their web and app hits. From Google:

"If you collect and send both web and app hits to one property in your Google Analytics account, all your hits will appear in all your reporting views starting today. If you want to keep your web and app data separate, you need to add a filter to your reporting views. If you don't send web and app data to the same property in your account, your data stays the same."

My Take

Google likes to keep us SEO folks on our toes. While this can be irritating, this particular update contains changes I can get behind.

I agree with Google when they say that the changes "give you a clear and consistent way to analyze and refer to all of your Google Analytics data."

I believe that the new phrasing is more straightforward and that the shift in terminology clears up the confusion many users had about visitors and “unique visitors.”

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Cody Moulton
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Digital Marketing Strategist
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