August 7, 2013

How much time does your website visitor spend on your website?

If you have a website, chances are, you have some sort of analytics tool such as Google Analytics which gives you insights into what your website visitors do whilst on your website (and if you don’t, then I suggest you stop reading and get this installed on your site immediately!).  Most analytics tools can give a whole host of information and statistics such as referral traffic, Bounce Rate, time on site and so on.

The average analytics user only checks referral data. Ie, where the visitors come from. However, there’s another equally Key Performance Indicator to your website which is the Average time on site.

As the name suggest, this simply measures the amount of time a user spends on your website.  In terms of monitoring how effective your website is in communicating with its visitors, this is something you should understand and monitor.

A high time on site reading is indicative of several things: users find your website content valuable enough to want to spend their valuable time on your site, your website is easy to use, and you have a lot of useful content on your website (which is also good for SEO).

Indirectly, and in most cases, a high time on site will also determine the conversion level of your website and therefore, the Return on Investment.  Just like in the world of offline advertising, where your prospect has to come into contact with your brand and marketing message a few times before she will take action, your website visitors will visit your website a few times before they take action. A high time on site reading will also ensure that your repeat visit % level is high. This is especially useful for ecommerce websites.

And, if you’re wondering what the measurement on average time on site should be, unfortunately, there aren’t any standard numbers I can point out as it varies from the type of industry and its customers.  If you are using Google Analytics, it has a metric called Standard Benchmarking which can give indication on your website’s performance against other, similar websites.

So, what can you do to increase the average time spent on your website?

Firstly, ensure you have a lot of useful and relevant content to educate users and help them make an informed decision.

Next, you should ensure that the information is placed in a location which is logical and where most users are most likely to need it. Bombarding the user with all information at once can overwhelm users, especially new ones causing them to leave the website immediately.  Wikipedia is a great example of this.  Not only does it have the most comprehensive amount of data on most of the subjects it contains, a navigation menu to the content is placed on top of each page ensuring that users can quickly go to the desired location with minimum fuss.

Finally, videos can be of great use to help increase time spent by website visitors.  No matter what you sell, whether its a product or service, to businesses or consumers, there’s a good chance you could think of useful ideas to create web videos that can help your website users and keep them on your website for longer.

If you have decided to take the plunge and do what’s necessary to increase your time on site, it makes sense to maintain a log of changes you make and the impact it has on your time on site. This can help you understand your users better and what works for them.

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About Shirish Agarwal

Shirish Agarwal is the founder of Flow20 and looks after the PPC and SEO side of things. Shirish also regularly contributes to leading digital marketing publications such as Hubspot, SEMRush, Wordstream and Outbrain. Connect with him on LinkedIn.