Google Analytics Changing How Sessions Are Defined

By Amanda West-Bookwalter | @Amanda_WestBook | Senior Account Manager at Hanapin Marketing

Google announced that they will be changing the definition of a session in Google Analytics. Currently, a session is ended when one of the following actions occur:

  • It’s the end of a day.
  • The visitor has closed their browser window.
  • It’s been longer than 30 minutes between pageviews for a single visitor.

With the changes happening in Analytics, the first and last bullet up there will still apply, but that middle one is changing:

  • When any traffic source value for the user changes. This includes: utm_source, utm_medium, utm_term, utm_content, utm_id, utm_campaign, and gclid.

Google Analytics, always ch-ch-ch-changing to bring you the most quality data.


This change takes place immediately, so it’s already happening in your account!

But, what’s it even mean for your account? Here’s the skinny: from now on, instead of recording a session as just a set amount of time having passed between pageviews, Google is getting more accurate about it. They’re recording it based on the traffic source code, which means if a visitor clicks on your red tennis shoes page, then look at your shoestrings, then clicks to your sock collection, and then clicks on another link for your red tennis shoes—it’s going to count that as another session.

This change is going to help you see more accurate information about what visitors are doing on your site, which is in line with the introduction of multi-channel funnels.


Google is warning that this change will increase the number of visits slightly, and they’re estimating the change at about 1%. So, don’t sweat it! It doesn’t seem like it’s going to affect your account metrics enough to cause an issue. It’s just more changes from Google to make Analytics more precise and provide more information about your visitors and their actions in your website.  (see below)


As always, thanks for reading and stay tuned for more updates from PPC Hero!