When we are analyzing our data in Google Analytics, every now and then we might bump into some irregularities. This often makes us doubt the accuracy of our data. We can all agree that nothing is more frustrating than having to analyse data that might be incorrect or inaccurate.
Now when we look at the following report we can see that the amount of Users often differs from the amount of Sessions. This is nothing out of the ordinary since a user can visit your site more than once, thus resulting in more sessions per user.
Why is the amount of users higher than the amount of sessions? Is it because of inaccurate data, or is there more to it? In order to explain this we must first understand how these statistics are calculated in Analytics.
Google Analytics Users vs Sessions: Example
User 1: Starts his session on the Home (/) page, clicks through to the /contact page and ends his visit back on the Home (/) page.
User 2: Starts his session on the /blog page and clicks through to the /contact page, where his session also ends.
What this looks like in Google Analytics: see table
The “problem” here is that we are comparing session-level metrics with hit-level dimensions. This might cause some confusion. A session is a single visit to a website and is linked to the first page the user lands on (landing page). For User 1 this is the Home page. User 2 lands on the /blog page. Even though both users visited the /contact page, neither of their sessions started there, thus resulting in two users but zero sessions for that page… When we want to know how different landing pages are performing, it is best we compare the Unique Pageviews metric with the amount of Entrances. Keep in mind that sessions are not entirely the same as entrances. Session count increases on the first hit, regardless of the type of hit (Event / Pageview). Entrances only take pageviews (or screenview) into account.