Why Google Analytics Show Zero Sessions?

You may sometime see zero sessions assigned to a page but at the same time see pageviews, user count, exits and other metrics for the page:

How come a page has got pageviews but is still not a part of a GA session?

How come a page has got 1 user but still no GA session is assigned to it?

This happened because Google Analytics assign session count only to the first hit in a session.

A hit is a user’s interaction (pageview, screenview, event, transaction etc) with your website that results in data being sent to the Google Analytics server.

A group of hits recorded for a user in a given time period is called ‘session‘.

A session count is the number of sessions recorded by GA in a particular time period.

When a person enter your website via a page (called the landing page), it triggers a pageview hit.

If this is the first hit sent to the Google Analytics server then GA assign the session count to the ‘pageview’ hit.

But GA does not assign session count to subsequent hits in the session.

As a result landing pages are assigned session count.

So in your GA reports you can see session count for all landing pages.

You should not see zero sessions assigned to any landing page:

Any page which is not a landing page does not trigger the very first hit (like very first pageview, screenview, event, transaction etc).

As a result no session is assigned to such pages and you see zero sessions reported by GA.

For example, in the screenshot below, the page ‘/ ecommerce installation’ is not a landing page. That’s why zero sessions are assigned to it:

Now how come this page has got 1 user, 1 pageview, 1 unique pageview and 1 exits, despite of zero sessions?

Google Analytics assign 1 user to each page in the session.

For example, if a person entered your website via the page: ‘/ecommerce/’ and then navigated to the page ‘/ecommerce/utility/’ and then to ‘/ ecommerce installation’ then here is how GA will report user count for each page:

Here GA has assigned the same user to each page he visited in a session.

But since it is still a single user, GA reported only 1 user (in the total column).  

If GA doesn’t do that then the ‘users’ metric will be inflated and you will see more users than the one, who actually visited your website.

You may find this type of reporting weird but that’s how it is, for now.

Since only the landing page is assigned session count, GA will report session only for the page  ‘/ecommerce/’:

A Pageview is counted every time a page loads into a web browser:

A unique pageview is counted only once for a page in a session:

An exit is counted only for the page from which a user left your website.

Now if the user left your website from the page ‘/ ecommerce installation’ then it will be assigned exits count. All other pages will be assigned zero exits:

Since GA assign session count only to landing pages, any metric based on sessions (like ‘pages / session’, ‘% new sessions’ avg. session duration etc) is also assigned only to landing pages and not to subsequent pages visited by a user:

Here, ‘/ ecommerce installation’ is not the landing page, so all session based metrics are reported zero by GA.

You are more likely to see zero sessions in your report when you create and use custom reports which query session metrics with hit level dimensions.

So you could see zero sessions assigned to an event category:

Similarly, you could see zero sessions assigned to an ecommerce hit like ‘Internal Promotion Name’ 

Another example,

You are more likely to see zero sessions in your report when you create and use custom reports which query session metrics with hit level dimensions.

So avoid doing that and you should be fine.

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My name is Himanshu Sharma and I help businesses find and fix their Google Analytics and conversion issues. If you have any questions or comments please contact me.

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