"Average session duration" is the official term for how long someone stays on your website. It's also an important Google metric, the reason being: if people spend time on your site (yes, Google knows everything), it must have good information, so it must be worthy of ranking well.
So just how much time do people spend on your site? You'd have to look at your Google Analytics to see that. But to put the answer in context, you should know how long people stay on websites in general. It's not a simple answer, but a quick three-part answer is:
- It depends on the website,
- It depends on where people are in the buying process, and
- It's never as much time as you think – or would like – people to stay on your website.
So what is the "average session duration"?
The quick answer is: about a minute. If you're lucky.
We all think our websites are chock full of great information (they probably are) and our prospects should spend a lot of their valuable time on our sites. Unfortunately, that's not how things work. Think about how much time YOU spend on a website when you're online. (Probably less time than you think.)
Being a Columbus web design company, we try to set up our site to be as engaging as possible. Even so, we find the average session duration on our site is between 90 seconds and, on a good day, 2 minutes. (See 2nd screenshot below.)
Google's algorithms measure the average visit on your site.
Google Analytics also measures exactly how much time visitors spent on your website, as well as the average time (the important part being the word "average"). Some folks spend more time, some spend less. Google Analytics also measures the "average time on page" which measures how long—on average—someone spends on a specific page of your site.
Then there's "average pageviews" which is how much time someone spends on individual pages. The screenshots below are an abbreviated version of the "average time on page" stats. In Google Analytics, it shows you even more details of the exact pages people spend their time.
One important caveat about the average session duration:
The way Google calculates the time spent on a page of your website is, the user has to do something on that page for their analytics to measure. For example, clicking a link, watching a video on the page or maybe filling out a form. That's so its analytics isn't measuring time on a page from a visitor who took a phone call, or a bathroom break, while your website was up on their screen. If someone had your page up for 15 minutes and it was counted, that would really skew the session duration report.
other important metrics
According to a company called Databox, average session duration is the fourth-most-tracked Google Analytics metric. The top few are:
- The bounce rate,
- Average Session Duration,
- Number of users, and
- Number of sessions
What does the "bounce rate" measure?
The bounce rate measures the percentage of people who come to, then leave, your website from the same page. Obviously, the higher the percentage of the bounce rate, the worse it is from Google's perspective. They assume if people don't spend much time on your site, the content you're offering isn't of value.
That said, if your site has a bounce rate of 60.62%, like ours (see the screen shot above), it's nothing to worry about. That's because the average bounce rate of a website is about 50%. If your website's bounce rate is over 75%, then it might be something to worry about.
However, if someone is coming to a page on your site to either register for an event or doing some other simple transaction, then a high bounce rate for that page is nothing to worry about.
One other page that could have a high bounce rate is a blog. That's an instance where someone would come to the page, read the content, then leave the page. Only if they clicked a link within the blog would it reflect well in your analytics. That's why you want to include valuable links within your blog, make the format easy to read and include good images. Read about the connection between outbound links and bounce rates.
A little note about the number of users and number of sessions.
This is pretty self-explanatory: the more users to your site, and the more sessions there are, the more "bonus points" Google's algorithms gives your site. It assumes with all those users and sessions, the content of your site must be good, because people like it. It's Google's goal to show good results (meaning good websites) on their search results page. They need to return good websites that other people find helpful, because if not, people would use a search engine other than Google.
Simple as that.