Average Session Duration and 6 Tips to Improve It

Photo of author

By Tomislav

Key Takeaways

Essential Metric: Average session duration, calculated by dividing total session time by number of sessions, is important for Google ranking because it reflects user engagement.
Session Duration Insights: It’s determined by “Events” and “Engagement Hits”. The duration is calculated from the first to the last engagement hit, indicating the effectiveness of content in retaining user interest.
Website Performance and Strategy: A low average session duration can signal weak user engagement, while longer durations are not always better. Ideal duration varies with site goals; for blogs, 2-4 minutes is good.
Optimization Tactics: Effective site design, readable content, incorporating videos, interlinking, and content categorization are critical for increasing session duration and overall user engagement.

Understanding Average Session Duration

Average session duration is an important metric among Google’s 200 ranking factors. It merits your close attention.

How is it calculated?

Google calculates it by dividing the total duration of all sessions in seconds by the total number of sessions.

For instance, if your website’s total session duration is 10,000 seconds across 100 sessions, the average session duration is:

      10,000 seconds / 100 sessions = 100 seconds (or 1 minute and 40 seconds)

This metric is more than just an average; it’s a reflection of user engagement on your site.

Understanding this involves delving into each session’s specifics.

Individual Session Duration and How It’s Calculated

Events” play a pivotal role in calculating individual session duration.

As Google defines: “Events are user interactions with content that can be measured independently from a web-page or screen load. Downloads, link clicks, form submissions, and video plays are all examples of actions you might want to analyze as Events.

These Events are crucial as they count as Engagement Hits, which are timestamps used by Google Analytics.

By default, Google Analytics counts only those events leading to a new page load on your site as engagement hits.

However, you can configure other interactions like video plays and form submissions to be counted too.

Here is Google’s guide for setting up event measurement to assist with this process.

The Impact of Events on Individual Session Duration

Individual session duration is determined by the presence or absence of Engagement Hits on the final page of a session. It’s calculated as the time between the first and last engagement hit in a session.

Let’s examine two scenarios:

Example #1: No Engagement Hits on Last Page

  • User visits Page 1 at 06:00 PM
  • Jumps to Page 2 at 06:05 PM
  • Leaves at 06:10 PM without further interactions

Here, session duration equals (time of first hit on last page) – (first hit on first page).

So, (06:05) – (06:00) = 5 minutes (or 300 seconds)

The time after 06:05 isn’t counted as there are no additional engagement hits.

Example #2: Engagement Hits on Last Page

  • User visits Page 1 at 06:00 PM
  • Jumps to Page 2 at 06:05 PM
  • Plays a video at 06:08 PM
  • Leaves at 06:10 PM

Here, session duration is (last engagement hit on last page) – (first hit on first page).

So, (06:08) – (06:00) = 8 minutes (or 480 seconds)

Time spent post-video play doesn’t contribute to session duration.

Understanding Average Session Duration’s Impact on Your Website

These examples show that individual session duration doesn’t account for every second a user spends on your site.

It focuses on time blocks between the first and last events in a session.

Average session duration, though not entirely precise, offers crucial insights into your content’s engagement level.

It helps gauge whether users are exploring beyond the landing page.

A low average session duration could indicate users are bouncing quickly, which might be interpreted by Google as your content failing to engage visitors enough to explore more pages.

This aspect is vital for understanding user behavior and optimizing your website’s performance.

Is a Low Average Session Duration Necessarily Bad?

It’s commonly believed that longer session durations are always better, but there are exceptions.

If your goal doesn’t rely on users exploring multiple pages per visit, a lower average session duration might be acceptable.

This is true if you’re content with users finding your pages through search results, obtaining what they need, and then promptly leaving.

While not ideal, this scenario isn’t equally detrimental in every case.

However, if your success hinges on users acting on Calls-To-Action (CTA) after arriving from search results, then a low session duration is concerning.

It could indicate that your CTA or content isn’t sufficiently engaging, necessitating a change.

What is a Good Average Session Duration?

The significance of average session duration varies based on your site’s objectives.

For a blog, a 25-second average session duration is likely suboptimal, as blogs typically aim to engage readers for longer.

An average duration of 2 minutes or more generally suggests no cause for concern.

3-4 minutes would be impressive, and anything beyond that is exceptional.

Tips to Increase Average Session Duration

Understanding average session duration is crucial, and it’s vital to know how to enhance it.

Despite its imperfections as a metric, it’s the standard used by Google, and adapting to their standards is essential.

The strategies I’ll share will benefit not just session duration but overall user engagement.

Smart Site Design

Your site’s design significantly influences session duration, impacting whether visitors stay or leave.

Poor design increases bounce rate, leading to fewer interactions and a lower average duration.

Remember, if a visitor doesn’t interact and leaves, that session contributes 0 seconds to your total duration.

Effective design gently guides visitors to explore more of your site.

Aim for simplicity; too many options can overwhelm users, prompting them to leave.

Incorporate features that meet users’ needs at their current journey stage.

Clear CTA Strategy

Call-to-action (CTA) is vital, serving as a response prompt for your visitors.

CTAs aren’t limited to sales pitches; they can guide users to another relevant article.

A well-planned CTA strategy significantly boosts session duration.

Each content piece should have a purpose, leading visitors to the next valuable piece from their viewpoint.

Understanding your visitors’ needs is key; offering them relevant suggestions increases the likelihood of engagement.

Avoid pushing selfish agendas like premature sales pitches, as they can alienate users not ready to purchase.

Improve Content Readability for Better Engagement

Ensuring your content is easy to read is crucial for visitor satisfaction.

This goes beyond just correct grammar and spelling. It includes:

  • Proper spacing
  • Easy-to-read font
  • Appropriate font size
  • Avoiding unnecessary blocks of text
  • Clearly marked headlines
  • Adding images and videos to break the monotony

Incorporate Videos for Enhanced Session Duration

Adding videos to your content significantly boosts average session duration metrics.

The time spent watching videos contributes to overall site engagement.

A 3-minute video could substantially increase session duration, especially if many visitors watch it fully.

Ensure the video is valuable and relevant to your content.

Interlink Your Content for SEO and User Engagement

Interlinking offers remarkable advantages for both SEO and user experience.

From an SEO perspective, every two internal links are almost as valuable as one external backlink.

Given you have full control over interlinking, it’s an easy win.

It not only boosts SEO but also guides visitors to more of your content, increasing user interactions and average session duration.

Add Content Categories and Related Posts for Increased Engagement

Helping visitors find more relevant content is always beneficial.

Categorizing content, though requiring effort, is worth it to keep visitors engaged longer.

Similarly, related posts sections are effective, particularly in a series of posts on a related topic.

Highlighting additional content on similar topics is likely to encourage visitors to continue exploring your website.