How can 'Average Session Duration' be Less than 'Average Time On Page'?
 by Kristi Hagen

How can Average Session Duration be less than Average Time On Page?

  • OK, time to ask a "dumb" Google Analytics questions. My Average Session Duration metric shows about 1 minute (rather low), while my Average Time On Page for my top-20 posts is over 4 minutes (pretty good).

    This seems to make no sense. How can sessions be so much shorter than time on page?


Maybe not such a dumb question, we actually hear this one a lot.

It seems to make no sense that Average Session Duration can be less than the Average Time on Page until you realize that Google can’t actually measure the time a site visitor spends looking at the last page of their visit.

That's because there is no "next page" click for Google to use as the exit measurement. Google use the time-of-day of the next page view to determine the time you spent on the current page. So, when there is no "next page" recorded, then the time spent on the last page defaults to "unknown" and is recorded as zero time.

This means that the Session Duration ends when they opened the last page regardless of whether they were engrossed for 30 minutes on the edge of their seat eating popcorn or left the page up onscreen while their eyeballs wandered away to cook dinner for the kids.

By the way, we published a really great resource last month that you should check out: 8 Website Rank Boosting Tips that Take 15 min or Less. Specifically, pay attention to Point #1. Improve Your Google Bounce Rate Analytics Accuracy to Identify Thin Content. It's in that resource that we thoroughly explain how to enable your Adjusted Bounce Rate, which will give you a much more accurate view of your visitors' activity. SEN article end


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