Google Analytics: Visits and Visitors Now Sessions and Users

Google Analytics: Visits and Visitors Now Sessions and Users

Last night, Google once again snuck an update past us and right onto our Google Analytics Dashboards. For the majority of users, it likely won’t make a huge difference. However, the change in terminology has thrown many webmasters for a loop today.

Sessions and Users

What the heck are “sessions” and “users”?

The biggest change you’ll notice is the switch from “visits” and “visitors” to sessions and users. No longer will you see the term “visit” in Google Analytics. The switch in wording is something you will just have to get used to. The data itself isn’t going to change, though. A session is still the period in which a visitor (user) is engaged in your website, and a user is anyone who has had at least one session on your website.

Google Analytics Sessions and Users

From now on, this is what visits and visitors will be called.

Why the change in terminology?

The main reason, explained by Google, is to accommodate a combination of app and web data.

If you have an app that you track data with in Google Analytics, in addition to your main website, you know that the two were formerly separate Google Analytics properties. Formerly, the app data included active users rather than visitors. Apps don’t necessarily have “visitors,” since an app requires a user to download the app and actually “use” it. This made it frustrating for marketers, as the ability to combine the two properties to give an overall view of total “users” was difficult without the use of third party applications.

Google now makes it possible to combine your app and web analytics. This move allows you to focus on your conversion data and view exactly how your “users” are interacting with your product or service. The ability to view app data on its own is still possible, but it’s through the use of filters instead of separate properties.

How this affects the regular webmaster

For regular website owners and marketers that don’t have an app, things won’t change much. The only thing you really have to worry about is the change in terminology.

In time, this terminology change may reflect more accurate data as Google gets better and better at determining what users are, exactly. For instance, Google is one step closer to being able to track the same person going to your website from three different devices. Before, this was three different “visitors” as each hit was from a different device and/or browser. But those visitors might have been all the same user. Overall, this hasn’t been implemented yet, but Google is setting us up for more accurate data in the future.

Apps rejoice!

Google also mentioned that they added some more app specific fields to the analytics.js library:

  • screen name
  • app name
  • app version
  • exception tracking

All this does is further distinguish the app data from the web data, but also allows it to be combined. You will be able to drill down to just app data, or just web data, to further analyze what your users are doing. Filters can be created to designate the separate views. The main advantage is seeing a combined view as total conversions and ecommerce tracking will sum both app and web data, giving you a bigger picture of your online presence.

The full explanation from Google below:

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The 10 Worst SEO Practices on the Web

The 10 Worst SEO Practices on the Web

Knowing how to ethically and strategically craft a solid SEO campaign is kind of like knowing another language. Speaking to search engines through title tags, links, and quality content is all part of the conversation.

But when black hat SEOs try to trick search crawlers into ranking their websites higher than they deserve, it’s pretty easy for the search engines to tell they’re dealing with an impostor:


Search engines like Google and Bing can easily pick out less-than-stellar SEO strategies and can penalize the offending site as punishment.

We know you would never use such unethical practices, but just in case you got some bad information from an online “SEO guru,” you might want to make sure you’re not using any of the bad SEO tactics in this list.

Revenge of the Pop-Ups: Does Your Website Need One?

Revenge of the Pop-Ups: Does Your Website Need One?

Ready or not, here they come. Pop-ups are officially back.

Once scorned by the collective Internet as an annoying, intrusive advertising method, and despised enough to prompt the integration of pop-up blockers into several browsers, pop-up advertisements have made a rather dramatic return in the last few months. I first noticed one on Quicksprout:

But then they started appearing everywhere else, like on ecommerce sites:


They’re getting clever, too. Some of them seem like they want to guilt trip you into clicking “yes” or “download”…


So pop-ups are everywhere again. Sure, they’re a little different this time around – technically, they’re browser overlays, not separate windows, and I haven’t yet seen one that plays music or says you’re the lucky 1000th website visitor – but why are they back if the majority of the Internet hates them?

Sustainable Content Strategies That Last Forever

Sustainable Content Strategies That Last Forever

Is the content you are throwing out into the webosphere actually worth anyone’s time?

Having this question in the back of your mind is a perfect reminder for making great content. However, it might not drive your brain enough to develop something that is still worth someone’s time next week, next month, or even next year. Is your content sustainable?

Our situation today isn’t exactly friendly for promoting new content. The interwebs continually get jam-packed with information as everyone creates and shares new YouTube videos, blog posts, and infographics every day. Standing out in all of this is tough enough as it is, let alone continuing to stand out months from now. Heck, if you can write an article that is shared long enough to be seen the next day, you’ve already beat out thousands of other individuals that tried the same thing. A piece of information is worth its weight in gold if you can figure out what will make it last.

Sounds easy, huh? Except no one has any clue as to what exactly makes up a good idea. As of right now, this post itself sounds great to me. Will it perform? Eh, who knows? What you make might just be a higher word count than the other guy’s, but it still isn’t necessarily something that will outperform his and prove resourceful later on.

“Here is a long list of dumb things. The things are dumb, but it took me a while to put them all in one place. Now it is one great big dumb thing! Please RT!”

– What I see on Twitter every day.

What is Sustainable Content?

I might be able to throw some things together every single day, but it won’t be worth showing to the world. Content like that isn’t very sustainable. It won’t last as it slowly falls under the mess of tomorrow’s content. Bravo if you pull in some organic search traffic, but chances are you’re just filling in space with another wall of text.

Much of the content produced on this blog is strategically thought out, and we have these posts planned sometimes months ahead of time. Yes, some blog posts, infographics, and other forms of content do better than others. But we continue to try and come up with things that will perform for us in the long run. Some of our best pieces have rewarded us time and time again due to this mindset. This type of sustainable content certainly has a strategy in itself. It doesn’t just gain us a few retweets and Facebook likes for the week — it continues to perform well past the foreseeable future in ways we might never have expected. But that’s exactly how we planned it.

Things that are sustainable last and continue to build value as they go. They are always worth going back to no matter how old they get. Think about Mona Lisa, Mozart, The Beatles, and Star Wars. These things are all very old or are getting there (just admit it), but they are hardly losing value as they age. People continue to spend a significant amount of their lives (and money) on each of these things.

Sustainable content and information will withstand the days of junk that flows through the web, and it might just last forever by performing long past the week it was published.

Strategies for Sustainable Content Creation

Sure, this is easy to compare to a Da Vinci painting, but how might I create something this great on the Internet? How can I get it to be that timeless piece of information that will never grow old and fall between the cracks?

It won’t be easy finding a great idea that will last as long as the Mona Lisa, but there are several areas that can create the framework for a sustainable piece of content. Hopefully some of the concepts listed below can shed some light on your next big idea.

Stop the Bleeding: How to Choose a Better Password in the Heartbleed Aftermath [Infographic]

Stop the Bleeding: How to Choose a Better Password in the Heartbleed Aftermath [Infographic]

By now, you’ve probably heard of the Heartbleed Bug. Called the “ultimate web nightmare” by Mashable, this bug is a vulnerability in the widely used OpenSSL library that potentially exposed hundreds of thousands of passwords, usernames, secret keys, and other sensitive information to hackers.

If you have ever used a website that relies on OpenSSL — including Google, Facebook, Pinterest, Dropbox, and many other popular sites and services — your data may be at risk. To protect yourself, you’ll need to change your passwords when those sites have patched the vulnerability.

photo by KoFahu
photo by KoFahu

Many software companies and service providers recommend changing your passwords anywhere between every 30 days and twice per year. With Heartbleed causing chaos online, this may be the right time for you to do a thorough password overhaul to make your data and identity more secure. But how do you pick the right password? What can you do to make it harder for hackers to do their jobs?

We’ve put together this flowchart-style infographic on choosing a more secure password to help you. Use it now to secure your accounts in light of Heartbleed, and bookmark it for future use any time you think you might need to change your passwords again.

Guide to Boosting Productivity [Infographic]

Guide to Boosting Productivity [Infographic]

You may be surprised to learn just how many productivity pitfalls exist in your workplace! From stress to distractions to slow computers, many small factors can add up to decrease the productivity of workers. With so much time and money lost each year due to these problems, it’s worth trying to make improvements that will boost productivity — even if it’s something as simple as a software upgrade, or a larger change like offering flex time.

Some studies show that American workers only average three productive days per week, which averages out to about 33 unproductive days per year. How can we cut down on these productivity pitfalls? This infographic offers tips on doing just that.