15 seconds. The amount of time that most users spend on a website and the amount of time you have to capture your audience’s attention. So how do you know whether users are engaged, and what can you do to increase user engagement on your website?
Most marketers use Google Analytics to track the performance of their website overall, but not all are leveraging the data to glean insights into user engagement. The following metrics are key to benchmarking, tracking, and improving your website engagement. Here’s what they mean and what to do to increase engagement.
Average session duration
Think of a session as a visit. Average session duration is the average amount of time your visitors spend looking around your site. Each user can have multiple sessions or visits that all factor in, and so more frequent users will weigh more heavily when it comes to this metric. Industry experts have differing opinions on this, but anything above 1.5 minutes is considered a good average session duration.
Generally, sites with higher average session duration feature longer scrolling pages with interactivity throughout. Interaction can come in many forms, such as infographics that can be manipulated by the user, animated blocks of content, “lazy-loading” content that populates as you scroll down the page are just a few examples.
Average session duration is a broad metric that can give you a snapshot of your site’s engagement. Pairing it with the following metrics can shed more insight into what you might be able to do to increase time spent on your site.
A “bounce” is a user that views a single page of your site and then exits, and so a site’s bounce rate is the percentage of users that leave your site after viewing only one page. Ready to be humbled? Normal bounce rates are somewhere between high 50%-high 70%. Bounce rates under 50% are quite good. A high bounce rate isn’t always bad, however. If your site has a blog that accounts for much of your traffic, your bounce rate is most certainly higher. This is because users land directly on a blog article by searching for related material in a search engine, and then often leave after reading the article they came for. If you frequently promote news or events on social media, your bounce rate is also likely a bit higher, as users are directed to individual news/events pages, which they will view and then exit. If your site has a high bounce rate, but a decent average time on page and average visit duration, this isn’t typically cause for concern.
If you’re looking to lower your bounce rate, consider increasing your cross-site navigation. As a rule of thumb, users should always have a place to go when they reach the bottom of each page of your site. Adding calls to action that direct users to other related pages of your site is a good way to improve bounce rate, as well as increase average session duration.
Average time on page
Average time on page is exactly what it sounds like, the amount of time users spend on a given page of your website. This metric is great for drilling down into individual pages to gauge what content is in need of a refresh.
Oftentimes, pages with large blocks of text have a low average time on page. This is an indication that users aren’t reading your content. Breaking up blocks of text into more easily digestible snippets of content by adding in infographics, photos, and videos to these text heavy pages is a good way to get users to absorb information instead of scrolling past it. Breaking up copy with expand-collapse accordions, or even simply adding more subheadings to break up large blocks can also help.
If your average time on page is declining systemically across many pages of your site, however, this is indicative that it might be time for a site refresh. Sites that are over a couple years old often start to see declines in average time on pages across the board, simply because users are already familiar (and perhaps bored) with site content.
Page depth is the number of pages that users are viewing per site visit. Users that view only one page are still quality visitors, however your goal should be to increase the percentage of visitors viewing 2-5 pages.
Similar to decreasing bounce rate, increasing page depth involves making sure that there is adequate cross navigation throughout your site, in order to guide users on a logical journey.
Another way to increase page depth is to improve your site’s page load speed. A slow loading site can frustrate visitors, prompting them to exit your site pre-emptively. As a general rule, each page should load in under two seconds. There are many free tools that measure your site’s page speed.
In an age when users have infinite choices when it comes to their browsing time, improving your website engagement should be a primary focus. Offering content that is relevant, timely, and tailored to their needs and guiding visitors on a purposeful journey to access this information is essential. By tracking these key metrics in Google Analytics, you’ll be able to benchmark, track, and ultimately improve website user engagement.