Session Duration is a Useful Metric that is Often Misunderstood

Session duration is a statistic frequently seen on the free web tool, Google Analytics. This is one of many metrics used to analyze trends and patterns regarding your website. Knowing how many people are visiting your website as well as what pages they’re viewing and how long they’re viewing them is important. This allows you to see which areas of your website are the most effective and which need work. Having a well-functioning and engaging website will ultimately result in more visitors, returning visitors, and increased sales.

Portside Marketing helps companies evaluate the effectiveness of their website. We also use that information to launch a strategic marketing plan focusing on search engine optimization. Our marketing plans help companies improve website content to make it more engaging for customers.

What is Session Duration?

The session duration metric in Google analytics is often misunderstood. Average session duration provides you with a look at how much time people are spending on your website. However, this information is generally an average of different averages. It’s important to understand what you’re looking at, how to interpret the data, and how to find the information that you need.

Everyone wants their website’s average session duration to be high. This shows that visitors are deeply engaged with your website. They are spending time looking at content, products, or services. However, extreme outliers can really impact this statistic. For example, if someone accesses your website and then steps away from their computer for several minutes, they aren’t actively interacting with your site. This can skew the statistics. The ultimate goal is not simply to have a high average session duration, but to have people actively engaging with your website.

Some people may choose to ignore this statistic completely when looking at Google analytics. However, this is a bad idea. We can still learn a lot from this metric. It’s also possible to use advanced segmentation capabilities to take the session duration statistic to another, more accurate level.

Diving Deeper into Session Duration

You need to look a little harder to see a more accurate representation of session duration. However, finding this important data is worth the extra effort. You’ll be able to better understand your website visitors to create a better website.

The best way to see the most accurate information is to narrow down the data to one traffic source and region. Focusing on one traffic source at a time lets you see more detailed information about session duration. This overall stat is simply an average of averages so it is important to see the breakdown of what items are being averaged.

Viewing traffic source and country is a great way to see who’s spending more time on your website. You can narrow this down even further by viewing session duration statistics by state or city. This is extremely important if you have a business that provides mostly local work. For example, a dentist may show a low average session rate overall. Yet, when viewed by city or state, their rate may actually be much higher. This is because people from out of state may only visit the webpage for a brief time while someone local may interact more. For a local business, it’s more important to find a way to be engaging towards the customers who will benefit from your products and services.

You can create segments for the audiences that matter most to your company. This allows you to easily view the statistics and see how long this specific audience interacts with your website. This idea also holds true for companies based in the United States. Visitors from out of country may only view your website briefly. This can drive down your website statistics. Average session duration is quite broad. It’s more effective when narrowed considerably.

Learning More about Users through Session Duration Statistics

The great thing about the session duration statistic is the detail you can discover when you look a little deeper. Overall, it’s not extremely useful. However, when you break down the statistics into meaningful bites you can learn quite a bit more. Another helpful way to do this is by viewing audience engagement. With your created segment you can see the number of sessions as well as their time increments. If your average session for the segment is 5 minutes, this will break it down further.

The ability to see the percentage of visitors at each time increment allows you to eliminate outliers. For example, statistics may show some visitors spent less than 10 seconds on the website while others spent more than 10 minutes. People who spend too little time may have accidently clicked, while longer sessions may have been people who walked away. Eliminating these extremes and recalculating the session duration gives you a better idea of how long people are engaging.

Many companies choose to ignore session duration due to a lack of understanding. However, when broken down as we discussed here, this can be a very useful metric. The expert staff at Portside Marketing specializes in SEO marketing strategies. We help our customers increase page views and session duration while reducing bounce rate.

Call Portside Marketing today at (972) 979-9316 for more information on how to increase average session duration.