There are four cookies that Google Analytics establishes, _utma, _utmb, _utmc, and _utmz. (If you establish custom variables to define additional segments of data, you will use the
custom variable cookie, _utmv as well) Let’s look at these cookies
individually. Keep in mindthat the most important things to remember for the test are the names of the cookies, howlong they last, and what triggers their expiration. _utma: This cookie identifies unique visitors by assigning them a unique ID upon their first visitto your site. It will last 2 years so long as the user does not delete it. At the 2-year mark, itwill expire.
_utmb: This cookie generates data about a visitor’s session. It establishes or updates a session
every time a page of a site is visited. If it is not updated, it expires by default after 30minutes. _utmc: This cookie works hand in hand with _utmb. It expires only when a user quits a browser. _utmz: This cookie determines what brought a user to your site. This cookie tracks things likePPC ads, organic search, and referring links. It also tracks page navigation so that you cansee how visitors move through your site. This cookie expires after 6 months unless it isupdated. Updates occur when a page view initiates.Each cookie contains unique code. For example, the _utma cookie looks like this: _utma= 17334963. 432099211. 1115376676. 1115376676. 1115376676. 1The first number set is the domain hash and is followed by the random unique ID, the time of the initial visit, the beginning of the previous session, the beginning of the current session,
and the session counter. It’s important to note the time of the initial visit can be the same
as the beginning of the previous session and/or the beginning of the current session if thevisitor is there for the first time or they deleted the _utma cookie in the past. These timesare set in UNIX, which is seconds since January 1, 1970.The _utmz cookie is organized slightly differently and allows you to generate a wonderful codeto track your PPC activity. It begins with the domain has, but is followed by a timestampinstead of the code contained in the _utma cookie. It also contains a session number, acampaign number, and source values for things like PPC tracking (which you use in a PPCdestination URL). It will look something like this: