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Unique user?

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# 1
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What specific METRIC tells me, how many UNIQUE USERS have been visiting my website?


Can I say, that a Session equals a unique user?

If not, what measurement or metric data-set do I have to consider for a unique user?


Thank you very much for any little help!


1 Expert replyverified_user

Unique user?

Top Contributor
# 2
Top Contributor

Hi, Bernhard R,


The closest thing to a "Unique user" is the "Users" (https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/2992042?hl=en) metric in GA. The problem with using Sessions is that you don't know if each session truly is from a unique user. I could come to your website, start a new session, and then come back later in the day and start another session but I'm still the same person. By simply clearing my cookies or browsing from a different machine or different browser, I can again create a new session, but the user is still me. So in effect I could create several sessions where the user is non-unique.


Therein lies the issue with the Users metric - it's never going to be accurate because there is no way for Google Analytics to determine if I truly am unique (even though everyone tells me I am). Smiley Very Happy But given that users *typically* browse on the same machine, using the same browser, and they don't necessarily clear their cookies actively, then for the most part users are unique.


Hope this helps.



Nicky Yuen, Google Analytics Top Contributor
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Unique user?

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# 3
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Great advice from Nicky - one of the best explanations of this topic called "Users / Unique users" so far that I have seen in this GA community.

There's one thing that I would add - there's a feature called User-ID tracking in Google Analytics that helps to connect multiple devices, sessions, and engagement data to the same users.

BUT, it's only applicable if you have a website or app where users can log in (you have your own authentication system in place). Keep in mind, if you'd like to implement the User ID feature, you must be able to generate your own unique IDs and consistently assign those IDs to users who are logged in. 

You can use the User-ID feature for non-authenticated returning users as well if you send a cookie to the user’s browser with this User-ID. Simo has written a great article about that.

@Bernhard R here you can read more about the cookies that @Nicky Y mentioned: https://www.en.advertisercommunity.com/t5/Google-Analytics-Tracking-Goals/Are-cookies-still-effectiv...