Average Session Duration Metrics and Google Analytics
Google Analytics is a Google’s platform used for tracking user activity on a website based on various matrices such as traffic on the website, bounce rate, average number of pages, average session duration, conversions, etc. The data from the analytics report helps in optimizing the website for several factors and helps to get more ROI and achieve other business goals. Average Session Duration is one of the important Google Analytics metrics that provide insights into user engagement on site. Although there are other important metrics to consider when analyzing the performance of a website, the Average Session Duration gives the average amount of time users spent on your website and can be really useful in understanding how users view your sites and the value of content on pages.
What is Average Session Duration and How is it Calculated?
A session is the period of time in which a user interacts with your website. It begins when a user logs into your website and ends when a user exits the website or after thirty minutes of inactivity by default. A session duration is the time frame in which a user regularly and actively interacts with the website.
An average session duration is calculated by dividing the total amount of time users spent on your website by the total number of sessions.
Average Session Duration = Total Time Spent by Users on the Website/ Total Number of Sessions
For example, if a website gets 5000 visits every month and has a 300 hour total session time, then the Average session duration will be 18000 minutes/5000 equals 3.6 minutes.
It can be said that if you have a longer average session duration, your website has interesting content that attracts more traffic, and if it is lower, then you need to work on the content on your website and make it more interesting.
An ideal Average Session Duration is said to be between 2-4 minutes. This can be considered as the benchmark when setting your website’s average session duration.
Although this calculation seems pretty straightforward, there are a lot of things that the Average Session Duration metrics do not consider. To understand this we need to first understand how a session duration and Time on page is calculated.
The Missing factors in Calculation of Average Session Duration and Time on Page
The time on page is the difference between the time that a person visits a page and moves to the next one. This is calculated by the difference between the current page and the next page that the user visits. The problem is that Google doesn’t calculate the time spent by the user on the last page as there is no next page to reference with. So, even if a user visits a page and spends time on it, it won’t be recorded if they exit after that or bounce. So time on page is taken as zero for exit pages which affect the value of average time on page spent.
Similarly, in the case of sessions, a user’s visit to a website is considered as one single session even if they spend fifteen minutes visiting 5 pages or spend the same time on a single page. Every session will have an exit page and the time spent on this page will not be recorded unless the user does some action on page. So, if a user visits a website and leaves after some time spending time on a single page, the session number will be counted as one while the session duration will be zero. This is an extreme case but can still affect the average session duration.
How to Improve Your Average Session Duration?
There are many factors that affect your website’s average session duration. These can be anything from issues with your website design or low page loading speed to a poor call to action(CTA) strategy. To get a high average session duration, you have to keep users on-site moving on to other pages on-site using a good internal linking strategy and providing them with the next steps to do on page. There are several ways in which you can increase your average session duration.
- Have a good User Interface. A website UI has to be attractive and impressive to the users because first impressions matter a lot.
- Make your website easy to read and navigate. You should also work on the content that you provide on your page. If you give quality content, users will stay longer and explore your website.
- Adding videos to your pages can increase your session duration. Providing users with interesting video content to consume is the easiest way to increase the time a user spends on your website.
- Simple and easy designs and visuals can also create interest in users. So adding infographics and pictures to pages can give your users a good on page experience.
- Internal linking is another important way in which you can increase session duration.
- Publishing a blog with quality content can help you get more traffic and session duration.
- Understanding customer journeys and providing directions to them based on the stage of the marketing funnel they are in can help increase session durations. You can use catchy CTAs, pop-ups, sliding, etc. to help you in this.
The Average Session Duration and Average time spent on page are two of the most important Google Analytics metrics. They help you identify problems with your website and improve it to an extent but cannot be completely relied upon. If a user spends more time on your website, the chances of conversions increases. But you have to consider the loopholes and exceptions while using the Average Session Duration Metrics for finding out the average time users spend on your website. Google Analytics offers many other metrics which can be considered together to get an idea of user behavior and activity on site. You can use these insights to make necessary improvements to drive more traffic, create more user engagement and get more conversions on your website.