Session-level vs. hit-level metrics in Google Analytics

| 27 Oct, 2016

We explain why it's possible to see conversion rate in the Landing Pages report and not in the All Pages report.

We frequently reference the Landing Page and All Page behavior reports in Google Analytics to assess the performance of the pages on our clients’ sites. Recently, we were asked why Google Analytics allows us to see conversion rate in the Landing Page report but not in the All Page report.

The answer is that while both reports house the same list of pages within your site, they differ because Landing Page is a site level dimension and Page is a hit level dimension, so the metrics that can be reported on are different.

What is the difference between sessions and hits?

Think of a session as the container for all actions (or hits) a user takes on your site. A single session can contain multiple pageviews, events, social interactions, and transactions.

A hit, on the other hand, distinguishes only one of those actions.

An analogy

Consider an individual visitor’s activity across multiple pages on your site before they convert as the various stores a shopper could visit before making a purchase on a shopping trip.

  • First store entered = Landing page
  • Second store = Page visit
  • Entire shopping trip = Session

Now, let's check out these reports

Landing Pages report

All Pages report

Metrics and dimensions

Two key metrics in the Landing Pages report are 'sessions' and 'conversion rate'. Sessions identify the number of times each page was the entry point (landing page) for visitors to your site (remember the container analogy). While conversion rate represents the percentage of people who convert immediately on each entry page.

The All Pages report shows hit-level metrics including 'Pageviews' and 'Page Value'. This report should be used to assess the value of each page when it's viewed subsequent to the landing page during a session. Since each page moves a visitor along in their journey, Google Analytics assigns every page a page value based on the number of times it was viewed and assisted in conversion. The combined hits drive the conversion rate of a site.

The term 'dimension' is used in Google Analytics to classify the name of the activity that categorizes the session or activities the visitor performs on your site (i.e. source/medium, campaign name, page title, event action, etc.). Dimensions are descriptive vs. Metrics which are numerical.


Back to the shopping analogy

  1. A shopping trip (session) always begins with an entrance into the first store (landing page).
  2. The shopper could find their dream item there or move on to shop around at multiple stores before making a purchase.
  3. If our singular fictional shopper found an item at the first store, we could assign a conversion rate for that store of 100%.
  4. If he/she visited several stores before making a purchase at the third, Google Analytics would say each store (page) influenced the shopper adding value to the trip (page value). 

Have other Google Analytics questions? Share them in the comment section below. We'll try to answer your question in a future post. 

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