Average session duration is like a stopwatch measuring how long users spend exploring your SaaS website. ⏲
And you know what they say:
The longer visitors stay, the more pages they read, and the more likely they are to make a purchase or sign-up for something.
So it’s no surprise that average session duration is an important metric in Google Analytics!
- Find out 7 SaaS Customer Engagement tips to retain customers for the long haul.
- Discover the awesome benefits of tracking Customer Success Metrics (also what they are).
- Explore 6 tried and tested tips to improve Click-Through Rate.
This Article Contains:
- What Is Average Session Duration?
- How to Calculate Average Session Duration
- Average Session Duration Benchmarks + Practical Applications
- How to Increase Your Average Session Duration
- 3 Rock-Solid Benefits of Calculating Average Session Duration
- 3 Must-Know Limitations of Average Session Duration in Google Analytics
- Other Related Engagement Metrics to Track for Deeper Insights
- 3 Average Session Duration FAQs
Ready to race against time? 🏃
What Is the Average Session Duration?
Average session duration is a metric that measures the average amount of time visitors spend per session on your website.
Why’s this Google Analytics metric crucial?
By monitoring this metric, companies can understand the average time users spend on their website, identify areas for improvement, and optimize their online experience to better meet customer needs.
A shorter average session duration could indicate that your website or content lacks value or relevance.
What Company Should Track Average Session Duration
E-commerce platforms, SaaS businesses, and content websites can benefit from understanding the average time spent by users on their sites. It provides insights into user engagement, website usability, and content effectiveness.
How Often Should You Track Average Session Duration?
The frequency of calculating average session duration may vary depending on the specific needs and goals of your company.
So, companies may choose to calculate the average session duration daily, weekly, monthly, or even in real time. But this depends on the volume of website traffic and the level of granularity required for analysis.
Regular monitoring allows businesses to identify patterns, assess the impact of website updates or digital marketing campaigns, and make informed decisions to enhance the user experience.
Now, let’s find out how you can track the metric.
How to Calculate Average Session Duration
You can calculate the metric by dividing the total time spent across all sessions by the total number of sessions.
|Average session duration = Overall duration of sessions (in seconds) / Total number of sessions|
So, let’s imagine that in one week:
- Visitor 1 spent 100 seconds on your site.
- Visitor 2 spent 60 seconds on your site.
- Visitor 3 spent 200 seconds on your site.
- Visitor 4 spent 60 seconds on your site.
- Visitor 5 spent 80 seconds on your site.
To calculate the average session duration, simply add the total duration of each website visitor and divide it by the total number of visitors or sessions. So, in this case:
100 + 60 + 200 + 60 + 80 = 500
Average session duration = 5005
So for that month, your average session duration is 100 seconds or 1.6 minutes. An average session duration of less than 2 minutes usually indicates that your website’s content isn’t engaging or informative enough.
We’ll cover how you can improve this number a bit later.
How to Find Average Session Duration in Google Analytics 4
With the replacement of Universal Analytics by Google Analytics 4 on July 1, 2023, it’s now crucial to familiarize yourself with accessing the new average session duration metric:
You can add the metric to your reporting table by selecting:
- Add this column to an existing report.
- Add this column from a custom conversion column or custom formula column.
Now, you will see the added metrics column in the report table.
But you may need to scroll horizontally to display the added column.
What’s a good average session duration?
Average Session Duration Benchmarks + Practical Applications
According to Databox, a good average session duration to aim for is between 2–4 minutes.
Here are some B2C and B2B benchmarks:
- According to Databox, the average length for B2B companies is 77.61 seconds (1.29 minutes).
- For B2C companies, the average length is 92.33 seconds (1.53 minutes).
Here are a few benchmarks for device type:
A. Desktop: Around 60% of desktop average session durations last around 3.5 minutes
If you have a low average session duration for desktop, it could indicate that the website’s design lacks functionality and value. Here are a few ways to improve it:
- Adjust site layout and structure: Create organized categories or links on the homepage, guiding users to a relevant section or a popular blog post.
- Implement loyalty programs: Offer incentives like loyalty rewards or discounts to encourage returning visitors, extending their engagement and increasing session duration.
- Enhance navigational design: Improve website navigation for better content discovery and exploration, ensuring compelling and relevant content that matches user preferences.
For example, offer tailored content based on individual users’ browsing behavior, such as the pages they visit, to boost their likelihood of clicking on them. In other words, reel your visitors in with some juicy bait! 🎣
Not sure how to go about all this?
Learn about SaaS website best practices.
B. Mobile: Around 70% of mobile average session durations last around 3.5 minutes.
If you’re not meeting these benchmarks, it could indicate that your website isn’t fully optimized for mobile devices.
You can improve your website’s functionality on mobile by ensuring that it displays properly on different screen sizes, improving your site’s loading speed, and ensuring buttons work properly.
Next, we’ll share a few more tips to help you boost your average session duration.
How to Increase Your Average Session Duration
You can boost your average session duration by improving your site’s internal linking structure, formatting your content properly, and satisfying your visitors’ search intent.
Here’s a closer at those strategies and more:
1. Include Visual Content and Enhance Readability 👀
Adding captivating videos and images and optimizing readability can encourage visitors to stay longer on your website.
Here are a few tips to help you do this:
- Incorporate visually appealing multimedia, such as videos and images to capture users’ attention and enhance engagement.
- Use introductory videos and recorded interviews to provide dynamic and engaging content instead of relying solely on written text.
- Ensure readability by using a clear and easily legible font. Avoid overcrowding the web page with excessive text and create ample white space to facilitate effortless reading.
- Break down lengthy content into short paragraphs with headers and subheaders, making it easier for users to digest information and navigate through the content.
Example: ClickUp Homepage
2. Track User Behavior through Your Pages 🔎
Tracking user behavior can help you understand what pages are causing visitors to leave and why. Here are a few web analytics tools you can use:
- Use heat maps to visually identify areas of high user engagement on your website.
- Track clicks to understand which elements users interact with the most.
- Leverage pop-up surveys to gather feedback and insights from every website visitor.
- Perform A/B tests to compare different landing page designs and measure their impact on user engagement.
3. Format Your Site Content Properly 📝
Content that’s optimized for readability can boost your average session length. To do this, include relevant and eye-catching subheads, scannable paragraphs, and visuals.
Also, don’t be afraid to bite the bullet… or better yet, bite into some bullet points!
What do we mean?
A Semrush study found that using a bulleted or numbered list for every 500 words in a blog post increases the traffic to that article.
So, if the text looks easy to read, your visitors will most likely remain longer on your website. On the other hand, they might move on to another tab if they feel like they’ve been bombarded with too much information.
Example: The Startup Voyager Blog
4. Have an Internal Linking Strategy in Place 🔗
By guiding visitors to relevant pages on your website, you encourage them to explore more and stay on your website for longer. So, ensure you use contextual internal links throughout your site content and build a main navigation menu to encourage visitors to discover additional pages.
Discover how to make the most of your internal linking strategy with Ahrefs.
Example: monday.com’s Internal Linking Strategy
5. Build Content Libraries 📚
A content library is a centralized collection of resources, such as articles, videos, guides, and other valuable content. You can add your content library to your website’s main navigational menu or to a dedicated resources section.
How can you use this?
Organizing and categorizing content effectively helps users easily find relevant materials, encouraging them to stay on your website longer. Continuous updates and expansions to the library can entice users to return and extend their session durations.
Example: HubSpot’s Resources Section
6. Understand and Satisfy User Intent 💡
When users search and land on your website, they have a specific problem they want to solve.
By aligning your content and website optimization with their search intent, you can provide the information and solutions they’re looking for — keeping them on your website.
To do this, ensure you:
- Conduct keyword research using tools like Ahrefs to understand user search queries
- Create relevant and high-quality content
- Ensure your meta tags and headings reflect the content accurately and contain relevant keywords
- Use visuals to enhance the user experience
- Include internal links to related resources
- Create actionable content with clear landing page call-to-actions
7. Create a User-Friendly Interface 👌
Visitors could leave your website due to it being too complex or unresponsive. So, ensure you update your website and monitor site performance consistently.
Some site performance issues to watch out for include:
- Complex pages filled with too many images and videos
- Slow loading times
- Unresponsive buttons
- Unclear call-to-actions and navigation panels
- Outdated pages
Example: Asana’s Navigation Panel and Clear CTAs
Next, we’ll take a look at three crucial reasons why you need to track the average session duration metric.
3 Rock-Solid Benefits of Calculating Average Session Duration
Tracking the average session duration metric provides valuable insights into user engagement and highlights areas for improvement.
Armed with this information, website owners can make targeted improvements to optimize the user experience and enhance overall website performance.
Here’s a closer look at these benefits:
- Helps you understand user engagement: If you have a high average session duration, it indicates that visitors find your website’s content valuable and captivating. On the other hand, a low average session duration implies you’ve got some work to do!
- Guides your content and SEO strategy: While average session duration isn’t a direct ranking factor, Google uses the metric to inform how they rank web pages. So, when your average session duration is higher, it can positively impact your SEO ranking. Additionally, monitoring the average session duration can inform your content decisions. If visitors spend more time on informative pieces, it suggests their interest in such content. Use this insight to prioritize similar content types.
- Evaluate the effectiveness of changes: Once you’ve made updates to your website, like refreshing content, revamping pages, or introducing a new user interface, you can leverage average session duration as an important metric to assess the impact of those changes.
While the average session duration metric can help you understand and improve user engagement, there are a few things it can’t tell you.
Not to worry – we’ll uncover those secrets next!
2 Must-Know Limitations of Average Session Duration in Google Analytics
Here are two drawbacks of the avg session duration metric in Universal Analytics (the outdated version of Google Analytics):
- Doesn’t provide insight into unaccounted time or why visitors left: Average session duration doesn’t provide insight into how and why users spent a certain amount of time on your website.
For example, tracking the average session length of non-converting visitors may show they spend approximately 5 minutes on your site before leaving. But this doesn’t provide details about their time on the exit web page or their reasons for leaving.
- You can alter the results: As the website owner, there are two ways you can potentially manipulate or modify the average session duration in Google Analytics:
- Implementing event tracking: With the magic of “event tracking” in Google Analytics, you can make the Analytics server keep an eye on special user actions that don’t usually count as events, like playing videos or clicking on outgoing links. This clever trick lets you grab some of the time users spend on exit pages, giving a nudge to your average session duration.
- Adjusting the default session duration: By default, GA stops counting a session after 30 minutes of user inactivity. But if you expect visitors to spend more time on a page before taking action, you can prolong the default session duration. This way, GA keeps counting users’ lengthier “inactive” visits for up to four hours, influencing your site’s average session duration.
Note: The average session duration metric in Google Analytics 4 can help mitigate some of these limitations. Instead of relying solely on session duration, GA4 captures individual events and user engagement, allowing for a deeper understanding of user behavior. With this data, you can analyze specific actions taken by users and gain insights into their engagement with your website.
You can better understand your average total session duration by keeping track of additional engagement metrics.
Let’s take a look:
Other Related Engagement Metrics to Track for Deeper Insights
There are a few other metrics you should use alongside avg session duration — you can track them using Google Analytics 4, Google Search Console, Adobe Analytics, and more.
So without further ado, here they are:
- Unique visitors: Measures the total count of distinct individuals who have visited a website within a specified time period.
- Daily active users: Refers to the number of unique users who engage with a website or app on a daily basis.
- Pages per website visit: Measures the number of pages that users regularly visit on a website, providing valuable insight into the effectiveness of your content.
- Bounce rate: Refers to the percentage of website visitors who leave a page without interacting or navigating to other pages on your site.
- Desktop and mobile web split: Shows you which devices have a longer total session duration.
- Traffic sources: Reveals where your website visitors are coming from. For example, if most of your email marketing leads visit your website, consider investing more on that digital marketing channel.
2 Common Average Session Duration FAQs
Here are the answers to two burning questions about average session duration in Google Analytics 4 (GA4):
1. What is Average Session Duration in Google Analytics 4?
The average session duration in GA4 is calculated by dividing the total duration of engaged sessions (in seconds) by the number of sessions.
Engaged sessions require visitors to:
- Engage actively for at least 10 seconds.
- Have two or more screen or page views.
- Trigger a conversion event.
2. Is Average Session Duration the Same as Average Engagement Time in Google Analytics 4?
Average session duration is the total time of engaged sessions divided by the total number of sessions. On the other hand, the average engagement time tracks the time visitors spend on your website divided by the total number of active users on your website.
Harnessing the Value of Average Session Duration: Key Takeaways for Website Optimization
Average session duration is a valuable Google Analytics metric that provides valuable insight into user engagement and the overall effectiveness of your website.
By understanding how much time users spend on your site, you can gain a better understanding of their level of interest and identify areas for improvement.
Want to create an immersive website experience that keeps visitors hooked?
Implementing effective SEO strategies and creating high-quality content can have a significant impact on your average session duration.
With a conversion-based content marketing strategy, you can attract more organic traffic and encourage visitors to explore multiple pages and spend more time on your site.
Connect with an SEO and content marketing expert at Startup Voyager, a growth agency helping SaaS companies skyrocket their organic traffic!