Many people in the digital marketing arena often wonder, “What is a good average session duration?” If you’re familiar at all with Google Analytics, you know that average session duration (ASD) and bounce rate play a major role in how Google measures ranks your website over time. Too many businesses focus on bounce rate more than anything else. While bounce rate is important, you really want to keep up with that average page duration (how long customers stay on your page) as well.

First, let’s address the myth that Google can see the amount of time a user spends on a page each time they visit. They can’t. Google uses the time spent on the next page a user clicks on to determine the time they spent looking at the current page. This creates a variety of new problems, but let’s keep it simple for now.

What you should be asking is “what is a good average session duration for my core demographic?”

Websites have different designs and intents so there’s not a one duration fits all scenario out there. However, by asking yourself these questions, you’ll be able to understand the data that comes in through Analytics and use that information to help improve your user experience and ultimately your ranking.

average session duration

Why Average Session Duration Matters

Average session duration matters for your overall ranking through search engines like Google. If someone spends a minute on your blog article and then leaves, you’re in trouble. Blog articles are meant to keep the reader engages, keep them reading. In this instance, the audience is supposed to read what you’ve written, all of it. Google is smart enough to know a blog is mostly content-based. If people leave before they read your article, Google starts to ding your ranking and you’ll start to fall from the top spots. You need to have a good ASD for quality search engine optimization (SEO)

Conversely, if you’re a sales-based site, Google expects people to find what they want relatively quickly and make a purchase/conversion. If they spend hours on your site and don’t buy anything, they assume your navigation/product/service is bad and will drop your rank in the same fashion.

How to Improve Your Average Session Duration

Most experts will tell you that 2 – 3 minutes is the standard for ASD. At Vissina, we try a little harder than a blanket statement. Sure, those are good numbers, but like we said, it really depends on what your page is about. That range doesn’t work for everyone.

Here’s a helpful tip. There are really two types of websites. Information websites that are designed to relate news, opinions, or tell a story, then there are sales-based websites that are designed to sell a product or service. You should base your ASD around that fact.

For example, if you’re an information-based website, then you should take the time to read the content you’ve written and time how long it takes to get through it. That should be your ultimate goal for ASD. Now, not everyone reads every single word of an article, especially if it’s a lengthy one, but you will get a good idea of how long search engines want people to stay on your site.  

If you’re trying to sell something, then keep the conversion rates and the ASD in mind. You should have fast interactions where customers eventually buy something. Take a look at the people who converted and see, on average, how long they stayed on the page. If this number is pretty consistent, then that should be what you’re aiming for.

Ask yourself the really important question, “where are my hardcore users?” Once you identify the group which your website engages with best, you’ll have found your average session duration benchmark.

Here is a list that Google recommends you run through if you’re having issues with your average page duration:

  • “Where do people begin searches and what do they find?”
  • You can learn intent and see the difference between a bad lead and bad content.
  • “How frequently do users use my search box and what are they looking for?”
  • See if the problem rests in poor navigational structure and if it stems from your search.
  • “How do different groups of users search my site?”
  • See if the right people are using the best paths to find your site and land on what they need.
  • “Are any of my pages broken?”
  • People are likely to leave if your site is not reliable.
  • “Is there a specific page where visitors leave the site?”
  • You can use that data to change what people don’t like about a particular page.
  • “What page sees the highest amount of traffic? Does it load properly and fast?”
  • Use elements of your popular pages and see if they work for others.
  • “What is the speed performance on the site overall?”
  • You can always try to improve speed by adjusting images and limiting fancy effects.
  • “What are the slowest loading pages on the site?”

Make not of the pages that are slower and see how they perform over time. If you need help analyzing and fixing your ASD, then contact the experts at Vissina to get a free consultation.

Categories: SEO Blog