Why is it important to track the average time spent on your website by a visitor? Aren't the number of pages visited or the total number of unique visitors good enough metrics?
Well, not really.
The average time spent on a website gives a much more accurate indication of how readers engage with your content. A large number of unique page views doesn't necessarily mean the readers are paying attention to your content.
Imagine a visitor to your website who clicked on 10 pages in 30 seconds.This reader effectively skimmed through a few pages, and likely left without consuming much information. The time spent combined with the number of pages visited can give you the right reader engagement overview.
Increasing the average time spent on a website brings a host of benefits—including higher ad revenue. More engaged readers are of more value to advertisers, which leads to increased CPMs.
This guide walks you through on how to achieve higher-quality traffic that spends more time on your website, and how to make the most out of it.
Table of contents:
What Is Average Time Spent on Website?
Average time spent on a website is a measure of the time an average user spends on all the pages of a website before exiting. It is calculated by dividing the total time spent on the site by all users within a given time period by the total number of visitors within that time period.
Website owners and digital marketers commonly use this metric to evaluate the engagement level of their website visitors. The average time spent on a website can provide insights into user behavior, such as which web pages are popular or which content is most engaging.
By analyzing this metric, website owners can identify areas for improvement and optimize their website to increase user engagement and drive conversions.
The average time spent on a website can vary greatly depending on the type of website and the purpose of the visit. For example, users may spend more time on a news or entertainment website compared to a retail website where they are simply browsing for a specific product.
Therefore, it is important to consider the context in which the metric is being used and to compare it to industry benchmarks to get a more accurate understanding of user engagement.
To calculate the average time spent on a website, website owners typically use website analytics tools such as Google Analytics. These tools track user behavior on a website, including the time spent on each page.
How to Calculate Average Time on Website?
To calculate the average time on website, you need to know the total duration of all sessions and the number of sessions. The formula to calculate the average session duration is:
Average session duration = Total duration of all sessions / Number of sessions
For example, let's say that you have a website that had 1,000 sessions in a given period, and the total duration of all those sessions was 100,000 seconds. To calculate the average time on website, you would divide the total duration by the number of sessions:
Average session duration = 100,000 seconds / 1,000 sessions
Average session duration = 100 seconds
So the average time on website for this period would be 100 seconds per session. This means that, on average, visitors spent 100 seconds (or 1 minute and 40 seconds) on your website during each session.
Difference Between Average Time on Page and Average Session Duration
Average time on page and session duration are both key metrics used to measure user engagement on a website. However, they measure different aspects of user behavior and are calculated differently.
Average Time on Page
This metric measures the average amount of time users spend on a specific page before moving to another page or leaving the website. It does not take into account the time spent on the last page visited or the time spent on the website as a whole. This metric can help identify which pages are retaining users' attention and which ones need improvement.
To track average time on page, publishers can use Google Analytics or other web analytics tools. In Google Analytics, navigate to Behavior > Site Content > All Pages. You can see the average time on page for each page listed in the report.
Google Analytics calculates average time on page by subtracting the time the user arrived on the page at from the time they left the page at. If the user only visited one page on the website, the average time on page will be zero.
Average Session Duration
This metric measures the average amount of time users spend on the website during a single session. A session is defined as the period of time a user spends on the website before they leave or the session times out (after 30 minutes of inactivity by default). This metric takes into account the time spent on all pages visited during the session, including the last page visited.
To track average session duration on your Google Analytics dashboard, navigate to Audience > Overview. This shows the average session duration for the selected time period.
Google Analytics calculates average session duration by dividing the total time spent on the website during a session by the number of sessions. It is important to note that if a user only visits one page on the website and then leaves, this will count as a session but the average session duration will be zero.
By tracking both metrics, website owners can gain insights into how users interact with their website and make informed decisions to improve user experience.
What Is a Good Average Time on Page?
A benchmark for average time on page across multiple industries is a standard or reference point that represents the typical or expected value for this metric. This benchmark can vary depending on the industry, type of content, user behavior, and other factors.
According to recent data from Contentsquare, the average time per page across multiple industries is around 55 seconds. However, this can vary widely depending on the specific industry, website, and content.
It's important to note that these benchmarks are general guidelines and should be used as a starting point for comparison and analysis, rather than as absolute standards.
The Benefits of Increased User Time on Website
Publishers should aim for longer on-site time spent because it can lead to increased ad revenue. That is just one of the benefits of increased user time on a website. Let's have a look at the benefits of increasing user time on page.
1. Higher Conversion Rates
The longer the readers stay on your webpage, the more likely it is they will take the action you'd like them to perform—whether it is a subscription of the newsletter, or a purchase.
2. Higher Ad Revenue
Time spent on a website is one of the most important ways to increase revenue for a publisher for two reasons:
1. By spending more time on your website, the reader demonstrates that they find your content engaging. This in turn signals to the advertiser that the reader is more likely to engage with the ads present on the page as well.
As a result, they are willing to spend more money in the bidding process. Unengaged users are of not much value to publishers, as they are likely to abandon the website after quickly skimming through it. This increases the bounce rate, reduces conversions and diminishes ad revenue.
2. The longer the reader is on your page the higher the number of ads they will see. They will also see them for a longer time. Time spent on a website thus is an important parameter to optimize if you are looking for ways on how to increase page rpm.
3. Loyal Readers
Apart from revenue benefits, tracking time spent on your site also helps to determine how people actually feel about your page. User experience should always be a priority. If readers are not getting value from your page they won't come back to it the next time.
So, if the time spent is rather low, something is probably missing on your website and you might want to rethink your content strategy. If readers spend higher time on your site, you'll get the benefit of running a good website and enjoying loyal returning readers.
How to Increase Average Time Spent on Website
There are several ways to increase the average time spent on a website. There has to be a good user experience when a reader lands on the publisher's page in the first place, followed by engaging content that's just right for the reader.
1. Improve UX
UX or user experience is an important factor in deciding how users, and eventually search engines perceive your page. Here’s what goes into a good UX:
Clear Web Page Design
A user’s first interaction with your website is the most important. It takes only a few milliseconds for most users to form an opinion about your website. This, in turn, determines whether they'll stay or leave. It is thus essential to have a well organized page that includes a clear navigation bar and an easy site search tool.
You should also aim for clean design and avoid using too many colors, different font types, different font sizing, etc. There is not one right solution for everyone, but having a clean site that encourages the user to stay is crucial.
Fast Page Loading
If your website is too slow to load, it will discourage users from staying on it too long.
A survey from Unbounce revealed that 26.9% of people are only willing to wait up to three seconds for a site to load on their phone, 32.3% are willing to wait up to six seconds, and only 24% are willing to wait longer than six seconds.
There might be various reasons why your page isn't loading fast enough—resolution of images or videos is too high, the page includes too many blocks of heavy code, or too many slow-loading ads.
To fix it you might need to optimize the use of HTML and CSS, reduce server response time, set up browser caching, etc. Taking care of your site speed might get tricky, so using tools such as Google PageSpeed Insights or Ad Audits tool for Lighthouse can help.
Page loading time is becoming a more important factor when it comes to search engine rankings. It is an important part of what are known as core web vitals (CWVs) that measure a site’s performance. This includes three parameters—first input delay (FID), cumulative layout shift (CLS), and largest contentful paint (LCP). To improve CWVs as a whole it is important to focus on FID, fix CLS, and fix LCP issues.
Having well-organized articles is almost as important as the content a website has. It is good to have shorter paragraphs, bullet points, headings, clear and large enough font type, or bold, underlined, and italicized words to make the navigation in the text easier.
Using words that are easy to understand rather than complex phrases is also a good tactic To understand how well your content is performing, you can use one of the plugins available at your webpage provider. For WordPress, Yoast is a popular plugin to grade your readability score.
People are increasingly getting used to reading and shopping from the comfort of their smartphones, so having a mobile friendly website design for your web page is a must. The growth in mobile ads is also evident from the fact that mobile advertising spending worldwide is expected to surpass $399 billion by 2024. This makes it important for publishers to have mobile-friendly versions of their websites.
Set Up Redirects for Broken Links
If a user lands on a page that no longer exists, the natural reaction is to close it, and leave. There are many reasons for deleting a content page, and that's just fine. But always make sure you set up redirects to avoid increasing bounce rates. Keeping track of all broken links can be challenging, so you might want to have a look at existing plugins of your website provider. WordPress users can have a look at Redirection.
2. V.I.P Content
At the end of the day, it's all about content. Having this right is what brings the readers to your page in the first place. Apart from having the right topics, you might also want to have V.I.P. content—Visualizing, Interactive and Personalized.
Including images, infographics, graphs, or videos makes the content more interesting and appealing for the readers. Remember, online reading is different, and the attention span is much lower, so including visuals might help to engage the reader for a longer time.
It might be also good to include questions accompanied by the comments sections or surveys, where readers can express their opinions, and become active participants rather than passive visitors.
Last but not least, having personalized content is vital. The more a user relates to the content, the more likely they are to continue browsing. In order to best know your reader, you should start by collecting and analyzing user data, segmenting your audience, and providing the right content for each group.
You could even use the unique visitor data every time they enter your page and serve them the content they will be most interested in, which can be in the form of follow-up content, recommended articles or Call to Actions on the page.
What About the Article Length?
You might think having longer content would automatically help increase time on site, but longer doesn't always mean better. Sometimes long-form content might be too complicated and daunting for the reader, so balancing in-depth pieces with shorter, easier to digest articles might be the best way forward.
3. Spark the User’s Interest
Time spent on a website increases with more articles read. There are several easy but very effective ways to encourage readers to engage with more content and promote content discovery. These include:
Having a Clear Navigation Menu
A well-designed navigation menu, ideally with a navigation sidebar displaying all the major content categories promotes content discovery. Your best content should be available just in one or two click in the menu, such as within a popular articles category.
Make sure to have internal links that link to other articles on your website. This not only promotes your older articles but also helps improve on-page SEO.
Recommendations for Next Articles
It’s a good practice to display somewhere on the page, recommendations to related content the readers have already consumed. There exist many webpage plugins to help publishers with this, such as Custom Related Posts. You can also have a look at Matched Content units provided by AdSense for the same effect.
4. Target Customers Leaving Your Site
Despite having a well designed site with great content, some readers will inevitably not find it engaging enough and leave. To engage this section of your audience, it is important to monitor the exit intent.
There are tools known as exit intent pop ups that track the movement of the user's mouse, and can spot if site visitors are about to leave the page. At that moment, the tool presents a Call to Action (CTA) button or a pop up, e.g. with a newsletter sign-up, a free download, or a discount. This presents the leaving visitor with one last enticement to stay. HelloBar is a great example of a tool you could use here.
5. Beware of Unwanted Ads
Too many ads slow down websites. Make sure to have ads that are relevant to the visitor, and do not make up a major part of the site thus lowering the user experience. Publift can help you with optimising your ad inventory.
6. Analyze and See What Works Best for You
Finally, there isn’t any one recipe that works for all. You should engage in using on-site analytics, and see what works best for your audience. Continually look at which pages and content types are performing well, and where the bounce and exit rates are high. Use the data to draw conclusions, adapt, and align your content strategy to achieve the best performing website.
How to Take Advantage of Longer User Time On Page
To maximize the ad revenue coming from your ad inventory, you can engage in two types of ads that are especially suited for increasing the time spent by users on your website:
1. Ad Refresh
Ad refresh, also known as automatically refreshing ads, is a technique which allows for active users of the web page to be served multiple ads during their unique visit based on predefined triggers.
There are many types of triggers that lead to the ad being refreshed. These include a user performing a certain action—such as usage of the search tool, scrolling along the web page, participating in a survey, etc., or a time count – e.g. new ad every 30 seconds.
Thanks to ad refresh, a visitor sees more ads per session than they would without it, which directly leads to higher ad revenues due to the increased number of ads served. This method increases the number of impressions served per session.
2. Sticky Ads
Another method for time spent on site is the use of sticky ads. Sticky ads are especially good for increasing the viewability rate. These ads are placed on a fixed place on the web page and do not disappear when the user scrolls down or up the page.
Sticky ads usually perform better than standard display ads mostly because of the higher viewability rate, which leads to advertisers gladly paying a premium for them. This results in higher CPMs and ad revenue. However, make sure that sticky ads do not take up a significant part of your content which would lead to a poor user experience.
Tracking the average time spent on site is necessary to get the right impression about how engaged your readers really are with your webpage.
Higher average time spent on page leads to higher conversion rates as well as higher ad revenues, as advertisers are happy to pay extra for a truly engaged user. This can be achieved by implementing multiple strategies such as improving user experience, personalizing content, or sparkling interest by recommending related content.
Publift offers a full-service solution to publishers and developers with an emphasis on optimizing mobile and desktop ad revenue. The platform has helped its partners increase their ad revenue by up to 55% on average.
If you’re making more than $2,000 in monthly ad revenue, contact us today to learn more about how Publift can help increase your ad revenue and best optimize the ad space available on your website or app.