Google recently changed how they calculate a session. Despite the reassuring tone in their article, it’s not
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a trivial change! I’m not saying you won’t recognise your reports any more, but it’s an important one to get your head around.
So, what’s changed?
Before the change, Google ended a ‘session’ under the following circumstances:
At the end of the day.
After 30 minutes of user inactivity (that Analytics can track of course)
When the user closes their browser.
The first two rules remain the same, but the last one has been replaced with:
“When any traffic source value for the user changes. Traffic source information includes: utm_source, utm_medium, utm_term, utm_content, utm_id, utm_campaign, and gclid.”
To be clear, we’re talking about visits. Yep, Google have changed how they calculate visits, so you’re going to see a change that is purely statistical. Google made this change to support their new multi-channel attribution funnels, and they expect most analysts to see a less than a 1% change.
Comments on the Google Analytics Blog show that some users have reported up to 45% increase in visits! That’s massive.
Everyone’s site and hence users are different, so you need to think about your website. What kind of user behaviour would lead to a bigger skew? How can you measure the change for your site? Or is the 45% hyperbole and it really is a trivial change? Should we just get on with our lives?
I would ask yourself the following questions:
Do you have the kind of site that users might find a number of times when searching? Are you engaged in any re-marketing activities once a user has found your site
once already? Are you a big player in your niche, with affiliate links that will bring back the same user in a short space of time? How do your pageviews, and other non-visit related metrics compare to your visits before and after the change?
I have annotated the 11th of August on my Google Analytics dashboard, and advise you do likewise, just until you know whether you’re a 1% or 45% affected Google Analytics user.
Have you seen any changes on your website due to this change? Any other behaviour or types of site that might be more at risk? I’d love to hear from you below…