Practical Guide – Unique Pageviews vs Sessions/Visits vs Users – Metrics Simplified Series

Today, we will be understanding the Unique Pageviews, Sessions and Users Metrics and also some questions like:

  • What is the relation between Unique Pageviews and Sessions?
  • How Unique pageview and Sessions are attributed to a page dimension?
  • Why Total Unique pageviews are not equal to Total sessions?
  • Why Unique pageview of a page > Total sessions?
    …and more

 

Click Below To Try [NEW] Google Analytics Simulation.

Google Analytics Simulation - Users vs Pageviews vs Unique Pageviews vs Sessions
Google Analytics Simulation - Users vs Pageviews vs Sessions

So, What is Unique Pageviews?

It is

The number of sessions in which the specified page was viewed one or more times.

Many a times its confusing that ‘unique pageviews’ definition has a session word in it.

I’ll be taking the same example from the post:
Practical Guide – Unique Pageviews vs Pageviews

Experiment 1:

So, a bit of recap, a single user has visited the 5 page in a sequential order in one session:

  1. /page-1
  2. /page-2
  3. /page-3
  4. /page-1
  5. /page-2

Now in Audience overview, you’ll see:

Audience Overview - Users and Sessions

While in Behavior > Site content > All pages, you’ll see:

Unique Pageviews - Path of User

Observations:

  • Here, 1 user had 1 session with 5 pageview and 3 unique pageviews.
  • Remember that the unique pageview is session level metric.
    So the /page-1 was viewed (We don’t care how many times?) in one session .
  • Similarly, /page-2 and /page-3 were viewed in one session.

Unique Pageviews vs Sessions vs Users Report:

My first recommendation here would be not to create the following report which most people do and then get confused:

Unique Pageviews vs Sessions vs Users - Custom Report

Observations:

This report combines Hit level Dimension (Page) with Sessions level and hits level metrics. Let me sum up the things happening here:

  • The sessions get attributed to the landing page or entrance page. Here, I have also shown entrance page to verify.
  • Unique pageviews metric is like sessions attributed to all pages viewed in that particular session.
  • Users get attributed to all pages.

That is why, you should always use Unique pageviews as a metric with page dimension rather than sessions.

I hope you are getting the relation between Unique pageviews vs Sessions vs Users.

Lets consider the following scenario.

Experiment 2:

Now lets say, the same user return the next day and follows the sequential visits as:

  1. /page-1
  2. /page-2
  3. /page-1
  4. /page-2

The Audience Overview report would show:

Sessions And Users Metrics

The all pages report would show:

Unique Pageviews vs Pageviews - Users next day

Observation:

  • You can see that the user is the same, so the audience overview report for those 2 days will show 1 users and 2 sessions.
  • In all pages report, you can see that the /page-1 and /page-2 were viewed in 2 sessions but /page-3 was only viewed in 1 session. (We really don’t care about users here, its just sessions.!!)

The total unique pageviews is not equal to total sessions (5≠2).

So, most of the times

  • Total Sessions < Total Unique Pageviews
  • Unique Pageviews < Pageviews.

What is more important in analysis - Unique Pageviews or Sessions ?

Well, It depends on the context.


Unique Pageviews: 

It is mostly used to answer page (or page groups) specific questions in a specified date range. For Eg:

  • What are the Unique Views per User for a particular page X (or page group X)? (AnsUnique Pageviews / Users
  • How many sessions did a particular Page X (or page group X) had?
    (AnsUnique Pageviews)
  • What is the conversion rate of a page? (Ans: Users Converted / Users who saw the page)

 

Don’t use ‘Session’ metric with ‘Page’ as dimension. In the below reports, the ‘sessions’ are simply the first pageview or (interaction) events attributed to landing page. 

Users_vs_Sessions_vs_Unique_Pageview_-_Google_Analytics

Session: 

It is mostly used to analyze whole site experience (including all pageviews, events, goals/ transactions) in a specified date range. For Eg:

  • What source of traffic has low Bounce Rate?  (Ans: Bounced Session / Total Sessions)
  • How many % sessions are there for a particular source/medium/campaign?(Source|Medium|Camapign Sessions) / Total Sessions)
  • What is the conversion rate of a particular source/medium/campaign ? (Converted Sessions / Total Sessions)
  • What is the % sessions for Desktop vs Mobile ? (Desktop Sessions / Total Session
  • What are total events / sessions ? & so on..

Conversion Rate: UniquePageviews Or Sessions Or Users ?

Google Analytics calculates conversions rate by taking ‘sessions‘ into account. So the formula is

Conversions Rate = Goal Completions / Sessions

Here’s the drawback of this approach…

if we acquire 1000 sessions but only 300 saw the offer page. Google analytics will consider 1000 sessions while calculating conversions rate

So, Here’s the real formula to use 

Conversions Rate = Goal Completion / Unique Pageviews

OR even better

Conversions Rate = Goal Completion / Users

 

Here, Unique Pageview will ensure the sessions who visited the offer page are considered

Similarly, ‘Users’ will ensure the total users who saw the offer page are considered.

You can utilize calculated metrics for defining these metrics.

Compatible Dimensions for Unique Pageviews & Sessions

For ‘Unique Pageviews’ Metric use the following dimensions

  • Page
  • Content/Page Group.
  • Page Title
  • & so on..

For ‘Session’ Metric you can use

  • Source
  • Medium
  • Device
  • Hostname
  • Landing Page
  • OS / Screen Resolution
  • Browser
  • & so on..

Google Analytics Simulation - Pageviews vs Unique Pageviews vs Users vs Sessions

  • Kindly Try the below simulation to clearly understand How Google Analytics Reports Data.
  • Assume that All the below event take place in a same date range.

Note: This Simulation is Only Visible To You. It is not saved or stored. Feel Free To Use It

User Visits Page URL : in
Users
Sessions
Page Pageviews Unique Pageviews Users Sessions

Summary

  • Most of the times Unique Pageview of a particular page <=  Total Sessions on website.
    Sometimes this might not be the case because the non-interaction pageview hit counts unique pageviews but doesn’t count sessions. This results in Unique Pageview of a particular page >  Total Sessions on website.
  • Don’t apply session level metrics for hit level dimensions like page. Use similar scope dimension and metrics.


To know more about types of hits, I recommend you to read:

Google Analytics – Sessions & Hits – Metrics Simplified Series.

Google Analytics – Users – Metrics Simplified Series

Google Analytics – Bounce Rate vs Exit Rate – Metrics Simplified Series

Google Analytics – Count Of Sessions – Metrics Simplified Series

 

Ritwik is a Web Analyst & Product Marketer. He loves to write technical & easy to understand blogs for Marketers & Entrepreneurs. Focused on Google Analytics, Facebook Analytics, Tag Management, Marketing & Automation Scripts & more. Google Certified Professional. A Firm Believer in Teaching -> Learning -> Growing. :)

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