Over a period of time, several experts in the domain of Google Analytics have spoken about average session duration not being an extremely reliable resource for assessing how your website is performing. So what is the use of average session rate and why do people use it?
Let’s dive deeper and understand this concept more thoroughly.
What is Average Session Duration?
First, you need to understand what does session duration mean?
Session duration is the time a single user spends interacting with your website. A session starts when the user lands on any page on your website and typically ends either when the user leaves / exits your website or takes no action for 30 minutes.
To put it in simple words, Average Session Duration is a metric that measures the average amount of time users are spending on your website. As per Google, you can calculate average session duration by dividing the overall duration of sessions (in seconds) by the total number of sessions.
While finding an average session duration may seem a simple and easy task, there are several aspects of this metric that can impact the entire outcome and its final interpretation.
Let’s make it clear with the help of an example.
Consider a scenario where a user landed on one page of your website at around 6:00 pm. Now, after reading through, he then clicks to another page at around 6:05 pm. He makes an exit after he clicks on the second page. In this example, the average session duration would be 6:00pm – 6:05pm = 5 minutes.
In this example, the time that the user spent on the second page is not to be calculated. Why? Because that was the last page and the average session duration does not include it.
Moving on, if you already have Google Analytics events installed and set up on your website, the entire concept of average session duration becomes even more complex. And, if there is an interaction event (independently tracked user engagements, such as link clicks, video plays, and downloads), then the metric will register the engagement hit and the time spent will directly affect the duration of the session. However, you probably already have an event tracking code installed on your website to capture these events in Analytics.
Let’s understand this with another example:
Now, consider that a user has opened your website at 6:00 pm and has clicked on the second page of the website at 6:05 pm. After that, the user watched a video at 6:07 pm and then left the website. In this scenario, the duration of the session would be 6:00 pm – 6:07 pm = 7 minutes.
In this case, the average session duration is longer than the previous one, just because this one has events set up to track the ways users are interacting with the content available on your webpage.
What is A Good Average Session Duration?
When talking about what is a good average session duration, the number may vary from a site to site. In a way, if it is about session duration in Google Analytics, it simply explains how a user is interacting with your website. There are websites with the average time of 4 seconds and there are websites with an average time of 5 minutes. And it is perfectly possible that nothing is wrong with the website’s goals and content. Although a user can generate one or more sessions; every session comes with an expiry date. These sessions expire within 4 hours and cannot last longer than that.
By default, when does an analytics session expire?
With Google Analytics, one session expiration is by default. If a person has visited your website and hasn’t clicked on any links or conducted any activity, the session automatically expires within 30 minutes of inactivity. This period, in a layman language, is known as no user’s activity. However, by changing the settings, you can simply change the session expiry time as per your convenience.
It is also useful to know that the entire Google Analytics session ends at midnight. Let’s say that a person has clicked on your website at 11:58 pm and still navigating through it. The session will expire at 12:00 am, even if the visitor is still on your website. (Source: Optimize Smart).
Session Quality Data in Google Analytics
For most of the reasons, it is imperative to understand what good average session is and what can be improved. If more and more people are spending time on your website and not transacting anything, obviously, it is of no use. That is why you must understand the value of session quality. It is an estimate that tells how close one session is to transaction.
Every Google Analytics session is calculated to measure quality. The value ranges from 1 to 100. Higher the quality of session, closer is the transaction and vice versa. For instance: if you got a session duration of around 1, then that means the quality was very poor. However, if the session quality is 100, then it turns out to be a good average score. (Source: Optimize Smart).
Believe it or not, numbers always tell you the real story. This is especially true, when it comes to website analytics. It is not that difficult to achieve a compelling engagement rate; however, if you don’t keep track of your website’s key performance metrics, you might lull yourself into believing everything is hunky dory.
For starters, you need to first understand what is a good average session duration and then assess whether your website has a competitive visitor engagement metric.
While there are numerous website metrics that help you measure your website’s health, the most important metric is Average Session Duration. Just as the name suggests, this metric is used for measuring the average time that your visitors are spending on your website. Straightforward enough, right? Well, maybe not!
Watch this video for more about Session Duration
How to Improve Average Session Duration?
The average time that a user spends on your website is impacted by several aspects. To begin with, it tells how your website is performing, in terms of quality. A qualitative website, which provides good value / information to visitors, tends to have a better session duration. On the other hand, websites that have low average session duration end up having a higher bounce rate, which in turn indicates that something is wrong with your website.
So, if you are dealing with less time spent on your website, you must dig deeper and find out the root cause. Here are some simple and effective ways that teach you how to improve the average session duration.
Interactive & Striking Design
Having a website with complex designs, excessive ads or graphics, exhausting navigation, it increases the probability of users leaving your website instantly. Therefore, to keep your visitors hooked, get on a mission of website cleaning. Put up enough information for your visitors to understand your products or services.
Keep the fonts readable, use attractive colors, makes it easy to navigate, choose layouts that are user-friendly, interlink pages properly, and keep graphics as minimum as you can.
Add Videos for Interactive Experience
There is no denying the fact that videos attract more visitors than texts and images. Also, in an hour, millions of users from across the world watch videos on different channels. This should be enough to add interactive videos on your webpage to keep your audience hooked. Therefore, it can increase the user engagement and average session duration as well.
Improve the Content
If you have a website that extremely depends on informative information, blogs, and articles, you must pay attention to enhancing the content so that you can improve the metric of session duration. Not just duration time but having helpful articles on your website can even improve the SEO and bring several benefits.
At the end of the day, you wouldn’t only want people to just read your blog but it to rank well, too. Keep the average content length, as per Google’s algorithm, and then generate content accordingly.
Focus on Engaged Pages
It is quite obvious that your landing page would be the one procuring most of the engagement. However, there might be some other pages as well that would have high engagement. To improve average session duration, focus on these pages and find out how you can enhance them.
Whether it is about adding new content, editing the existing one, interlinking pages, changing layout, enhancing the design, or some other activity, figure out how you can just add value to this page, so it attracts more and more visitors and keeps them hooked as well.
Call-to-Action is Necessary
Irrespective of the number of engaging factors you have on your website, if you haven’t placed an appropriate call-to-action aspect, it is less likely that your visitors will take an action. Having a CTA prompts visitors to take an action, whether it is in the form of leaving a comment or buying something from your website. And, they will only take this action if they are compelled to do so. Make sure your website has enough compelling power.
Average session duration is, undoubtedly, one of the most important metrics. So, make sure it is appropriate for your website and domain. Conduct well-versed research on how your website’s average session duration is working. If it is not appropriate, apply these above-mentioned tips and enhance the duration.