Why a custom report shows more Users than Sessions

At a glance

If you use either a page level dimension (like Page or Page Title) or the Hour dimension in a custom report, you might see the count of Users is greater than Sessions.

To capture the number of sessions that included a given page, use the metric Unique Pageviews instead of Sessions.

An in depth look

Scenario 1: When using a page level dimension

If you build a custom report that has page level dimensions (like Page, Page Title, or a page level custom variable) Users might appear greater than Sessions. This may occur when viewing the sessions metric against any sort of page level dimension because sessions are incremented on, and therefore associated with, the first hit of the session.

You might also see more Users than Sessions if you apply a custom report filter to only include a particular page or group of pages.

As a general rule, understand that Sessions corresponds to the Entrances metric when you view the Sessions metric with a page level dimension. In some cases, there can be a small discrepancy between Entrances and Sessions. Entrances count the first hit of the session that is also a page, while Sessions captures the first hit of the session, even if it is an Event, transaction, or any other type of hit.

Here is an example of two sessions from two different users which may help illustrate this:

Session 1:

  • User enters to Page A
  • User navigates to Page B
  • User navigates back to Page A
  • End of session

Session 2:

  • User enters to Page C
  • User navigates to Page B
  • End of session

Summary

  • Page A: 2 Pageviews, 1 Session, 1 Unique Pageview, 1 User, 1 Entrance
  • Page B: 2 Pageviews, 0 Sessions, 2 Unique Pageviews, 2 Sessions, 0 Entrances
  • Page C: 1 Pageview, 1 Session, 1 Unique Pageview, 1 User, 1 Entrance
  • Totals: 5 Pageviews, 2 Sessions, 4 Unique Pageviews, 2 Sessions, 2 Entrances

Note that in Session 1, Page A gets a session, while Page B does not, because it was not the first hit of the session. Likewise, in Session 2, only Page C gets a session.

In this scenario, use the metric Unique Pageviews instead of Sessions to see how many sessions included a view of the particular page.

Scenario 2: When using the Hour dimension

If you built a custom report that has Hour or Hour of Day as a dimension and Sessions and Users as metrics, you might see more Users than Sessions for any given hour. This may occur because if there is a sesssion that spans multiple hours, the session will only be counted for the first hour, while the user will be counted for every hour the session is active. For example, if a session begins at 8:50 and ends at 9:10, there will be a user attributed to 8 and 9 o'clock, one session at 8 o'clock, but zero sessions at 9 o'clock. Therefore, 9 o'clock will have one user but zero sessions.