How to Measure Average Time on Site + 5 Ways to Improve It

Sure, website visitors are good, but are they actually finding value on your site?

Want to find out?
Track how much time they spend on your website


If you use Adobe Analytics, you can track this with the average time on site metric.

What does this metric indicate?
And what’s a good average time on site?

Let’s explore this metric in detail, its sister metric on other analytics tools like Google Analytics 4 (GA4), how to improve it, and more!

This Article Contains:

Let’s get started!

What Is Average Time on Site?

Average Time on Site is a metric measured on Adobe Analytics (Adobe’s solution for web analytics).

Adobe defines it as “the amount of time passed between hits for a given dimension item.”

Hits? Dimension? 


In simple terms, average time on site shows how much time users spend on your website while completing different actions — also called a dimension item. 

A dimension item can be any variable component, like visiting different pages or viewing a specific page, like the homepage or checkout page. 

You can even make and track custom dimensions (called an eVar) based on a string of actions a user may take. For example, Google ad clicks that resulted in signups or the number of times the search functionality was used before a purchase was completed.

But wait, what are hits?
A hit on Adobe Analytics refers to an action that sends an image request to Adobe data collection servers. 

It can include a page view, custom link click, or anything that leads a user to a new URL on your website. Hits are tracked from when someone lands on your site (whether from an organic search result page or direct traffic source) until they leave.  

Now, the average time on site metric is comparable to Google Analytics metrics, like “session duration” and “time on page.”

These marketing metrics record the average time spent across your website or specific pages. However, they aren’t as flexible as “average time on site” since they can’t track the time spent on custom dimension items. 

Next, let’s see why you should track this metric. 

Why Is Average Time on Site Important?

Tracking how much time users spend on your website during a visit can help you understand your content’s engagement level. 


Typically, a high average time on site could mean that users are engaged in your content, while a low average time can mean that your site content needs improvement. 

However, there are always exceptions to the rule, which mostly depend on the type of page where time is spent (more on that later).

How Is Average Time on Site Measured?

Average time on site on Adobe Analytics measures the total time spent on a specific dimension item (an entire visit or specific page hits) based on its total number of sequences.  

Here’s the formula for average time on site:

Average time on site = Total time spent on a specific dimension item / Number of sequences or hits of the dimension item

The average amount is presented in an HH(hour): MM(minutes): SS(seconds) format.

Note: Adobe Analytics doesn’t count the time on an exit page (the last page viewed by a user) in the average since it doesn’t get a hit to measure the time on that page.

Example

Consider the following session:

Visit APage ViewTime Spent
Hit #1Blog Post00:02:30 (150 seconds)
Hit #2Home page00:01:20 (80 seconds)
Hit #3Product Page A00:02:10 (130 seconds)
Hit #4Product Page B00:00:30 (30 seconds)
Hit #5Product Page A00:00:20 (20 seconds)
Hit #6Checkout00:00:40 (40 seconds)
Hit #7Purchase00:05:20 (320 seconds)
Hit #8Homepage00:0:30 (30 seconds)
Hit #9Not IncludedExit (0 seconds)

Now, let’s say you want to track the average time on site based on the entire visit. Then your average time on site would equal:

Average time on site (for entire visit) = Total time spent across “visit a” / Total number of hits
= (150 + 80 + 130 + 30 + 20 + 40 + 320 + 30) / 8
= 800 / 8
= 100 seconds or 00:01:40

But if you want to track it for the dimension item “Home page.” Then, you’d need to divide the total time spent on the homepage (80 + 30 = 110 seconds) by the number of hits on the page.

Average time on site (for the homepage) = Total time spent on homepage / Number of sequences of homepage
= 110 / 2
= 55 seconds or 00:00:55

Now, you may wonder: Is this a good average amount of time for your website?
Let’s find out.

What’s a Good Average Time on Site?

There’s no golden standard for a good average time on site. That’s because a good average time can depend on the type of pages users visit and the content on those pages. 


For example, blog posts could have a higher average than home pages. And “forgot password” pages would have a really low average compared to pages with videos. 

Moreover, the average for specific types of pages can also vary based on the industry and your customer profile. 

That’s why it’s best to use your website’s past performance as a benchmark to indicate growth. 

Consider this: Your average time on site for the dimension item “blog post” has increased over a few months. This could mean your content optimization strategies are increasing user engagement. 

Still, you can draw some conclusions without any past data. 

Read on to know more.

What it Means if Your Average Time on Site Is Too Low or High

While, in general, it’s better to have a high average time on site, there are certain exceptions.

Take the above example, where the average time on page for the homepage was 1 minute 15 seconds. 

What if a change suddenly sees people spending 5 minutes on the page and eventually dropping off your site without making a purchase?

That could mean visitors are struggling to find the content (let’s say product page A) they’re looking for. The same goes for a forgot password page — if users take more time than needed (let’s say 5 minutes instead of 2 minutes), it could mean they can’t complete their goal easily.  

Naturally, a very low average isn’t great either. 
There are many reasons for this, which may include:

  • Visitors are bouncing due to low page speed.
  • Your page isn’t addressing the search intent (or it’s turning up as a search result for the wrong keyword).
  • Your blog post is too complicated, making visitors drop off before going through your whole post.

So, in a way, the metric provides clues about user behavior that you need to decipher. 

However, these user behavior cues are up to interpretation based on the content type and purpose. After all, analytics largely offers quantitative data — about what happened and where. You’ll need to dig deeper to understand why it’s happening. 

The bottom line: A high average isn’t always a good thing, and a low average isn’t always bad. You’ll need to assess what’s good and bad based on the page’s purpose.

After exploring the average time on site metric on Adobe Analytics, you may wonder if it’s different from similar marketing metrics on Google Analytics. 

Let’s find out. 

Is Average Time on Site Different from Average Session Duration?

Average time on site is similar to average session duration and average time on page on Google Analytics — a free web analytics tool. 

Here’s what you need to know about both of them: 

1. Average Session Duration

Average session duration tracks how much time users spend on your site. It’s tracked from when an internet user lands on one of your pages till they exit your website (or remain inactive for 30 minutes).


This statistic is based on all visits during your defined time range. 

But here’s where it gets tricky:
Google Analytics counts bounces as zero seconds for this statistic since it can’t accurately track the time people spend on your site without any interactions. However, since the time (zero seconds) is included in the measurement, it brings your average down if your website has a high bounce rate.

That’s why tracking your engaged sessions alongside your average session duration and sessions is also helpful.

What’s an engaged session?
An engaged session is one that either:

  • Lasts longer than 10 seconds
  • Has a conversion event
  • Has at least 2 pageviews or screenviews

This statistic is valuable since these sessions are more likely to result in conversions. 

2. Average Time on Page


Average time on page is a metric on Google Analytics’s Universal Analytics. This metric tracks the average time spent viewing a page on your site. Similar to average time on site, it doesn’t include the time users spend on exit pages in the calculated average.

But here’s the thing: 
Universal Analytics has been discontinued since it didn’t meet measurement standards. Now, you can track time on page as average engagement time on Google Analytics 4 (the new version of Google Analytics).

Average engagement time measures the time a page on your website is in focus on a user’s screen. 


Unlike Adobe Analytics, which measures the average time on site based on hits, GA stops tracking user engagement on a page whenever:

  • A visitor moves the app screen to the background
  • A visitor closes the tab, window, or app or navigates to another window or page
  • The website or app crashes

So, the data you get is more meaningful than just how long a user spends on a page.

Next, let’s look at ways to improve these metrics for your website. 

4 Ways to Improve Your Average Time on Site

Try these tips to boost the average time spent on your pages.

1. Optimize Your Site’s Speed

People who visit your website are likely to bounce if they face a poor user experience due to a slow site speed. 

Per Deloitte, decreasing your mobile site’s page load time by 0.1 seconds can reduce bounce rates by 0.6% for home pages, 1.9% for product details pages, and 5.7% for product listing pages.

Using a tool like PageSpeed Insights to test your site will give you insights into what you can improve to boost your page speed. 

Check out what they recommend a SaaS website like Slack could improve:


Based on the PageSpeed Insights data, Slack could improve its page load time by:

  • Reducing unused JavaScript
  • Eliminating render-blocking resources
  • Serving images in next-gen formats
  • Reducing unused CSS

Auditing your website with PageSpeed Insights is a great way to understand what areas need to be optimized or fixed for better engagement. Plus, it also covers the Core Web Vitals — a set of user experience metrics, including:

  • Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) for measuring loading performance
  • First Input Delay (FID) for measuring interactivity
  • Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) for measuring visual stability of the page

Some other steps to improve your page speed include:

  • Compressing files and images: It reduces its size (not quality), helping fasten load time.
  • Using a Content Delivery Network (CDN): A CDN sends cached versions of your web page from a server location closest to the visitor, helping improve site speed.
  • Reducing redirects: More redirects mean it’ll take longer for users to land on and load the intended page.
  • Limit HTTP requests: HTTP requests (for downloading images, stylesheets, scripts, etc.) can take up to 80% of your page’s load time. You can minimize these requests by combining your HTML, CSS, and JavaScript files, fixing broken links, reducing plugins on your website builder, and more.

2. Optimize for Mobile Users

According to explodingtopics.com, about 92.3% of internet users access the web via a mobile device.

What does this mean?
Your website will likely have a decent amount of mobile users. 

But if your pages aren’t optimized to be responsive to a mobile device, you could lose visitors before they even take the time to review your product or content. 

Here are some tips on how to ensure your site is mobile-optimized:

  • Ensure your images, icons, and graphics scale well on different screen sizes.
  • Use custom CSS to make your website responsive (for example, using size percentages for layout elements and adjusting font sizes using media queries).
  • Test the mobile-friendliness and Core Web Vitals of your web page on Google Search Console.

Here’s how Google Search Console shows you if your page is mobile-friendly:


3. Use Visual Content

Images, videos, and infographics are an easy way to attract and retain user attention.

They’re easier to understand and make for a more pleasant user experience. 

Think about it: would you rather read long paragraphs explaining how to use a tool or watch a video about it?

In fact, per Wyzowl’s 2023 State of Video Marketing report, 89% of people say watching a video convinced them to purchase a product.

And it’s not just videos! 
Even pictures and screenshots can help increase engagement in your step-by-step guides.

One website that does this well is HubSpot. Its blog posts offer a good mix of text and visual content. 


Consider the sense of ease and satisfaction visual content delivers to users trying to solve a problem. Images and screenshots of the steps go a long way toward helping readers fulfill their objectives easily.

So, it’s worth exploring how much visual content can impact your engagement and conversions.

Plus, your visual content can be used for social media engagement — helping you increase website traffic (from social network sites) and sales.

4. Improve Readability and Personalization

Readable, personalized content is important for keeping visitors’ attention. 

This includes avoiding confusing and long strings of text, adding subheads and bullet points to break up paragraphs, and using easy-to-read fonts and color schemes.

Look at how Toggl uses the above practices to keep their blog posts readable. Notice its use of short sentences, bullet points, and colored boxes to break up text. 


Moreover, your site content should address the needs of your target audience, not every internet user. This helps you create a better user experience for your ideal customers.


Still need some clarification about how average time on site works?
Let’s review a couple of common questions about it.

2 FAQs about Adobe Analytics Average Time on Site Metric

Here are answers to common doubts you may have about this metric:

1. Why Don’t the Breakdown Totals Match the Parent Line Item?

A breakdown lets you view a dimension item within the context of another dimension. 

In this case, your breakdown total is your average site time for the new dimension.  
And the parent line item is the original dimension item you were tracking.

Why do they have different averages?
Average time on site on Adobe Analytics uses unbroken sequences of a given dimension. 

That means it views a dimension item as a part of several linked sequences. 
So, its calculation is based on the number of hits. 

Consider this example: Let’s say you want to track the average time on site for the dimension item “Blog” in the following visit.

TimestampPage nameSite section
09:00:00BlogVoyager
09:00:50HomeVoyager
09:01:10BlogVoyager
09:01:40AboutVoyager
09:02:00(None; exit link click)(None; exit link click)

It’s calculated by dividing the total time of all “Blog” dimension items by the total number of sequences or hits:

Average time on site = (50 + 30) / 2 = 40 seconds

But, if you applied a breakdown using the site section dimension, it would consider the whole visit a single sequence, and the calculation would be:

Average time on site = (50 + 30) / 1 = 80 seconds

Why?
In the second case, Adobe Analytics views “Blog” visits within the context of “Voyager” visits. So, since there was no change in site sections, it was considered as one sequence — leading to a different denominator and average time.

2. Why Is the Average Time on Site Metric Registering an Average Above 100%?

When viewing a dimension item’s average time on site, you’ll also notice a percentage at the side of it. 

It will look like this:


The percentage value represents the ratio of the dimension item’s average time on site compared to the entire dimension’s average time on site. 

So, if a dimension item’s average time on site (for example, a comprehensive blog post) is higher than the entire website’s average amount, the percentage for that item will be over 100%. 

Boost Your Web Pages Average Time on Site

Average time on site is useful for measuring your content’s engagement levels. Understanding how to calculate and improve it will help you retain customer interest. 

What’s more?
The longer customers stay on your website, the more time you have to convince them to buy your product or services.

But if you’re struggling with that, don’t worry!

Get in touch with Startup Voyager to discover how we can help you with an effective SEO strategy that will boost the average time spent on your site. We’re a growth agency that’ll help you drive and retain massive traffic through high-quality content — and, of course, convert more customers. 💰

About the author

Startup Voyager is a content and SEO agency helping startups in North America and Europe acquire customers with organic traffic. Our founders have appeared in top publications like Entrepreneur, Fast Company, Inc, Huffpost, Lifehacker, etc.