In our last Analytics blog, we looked at the importance of website visitor data. Today, we will be discussing another type of data that is just as important: the average time users spend on your website. In a recent study published by TIME magazine, “a stunning 55% [of users] spent fewer than 15 seconds actively on a page.”
What does this mean for business owners? It means that everything on your website from layout to content needs to be user-friendly and engaging enough to capture your potential customers’ attention. By tracking the average time spent on your website, you can see which pages users spend the most time on thereby indicating a higher level of engagement on those pages. You are also able to see which pages users spend the least time on which might indicate that a page layout or page content change is necessary. To learn more about how to properly interpret the data, let’s start with the basics.
What is Average Time on Site?
There are two sets of data that you want to focus on: average time on the entire website and average time on individual pages of the website. Starting with the first set of data, looking at the average time users spend on the entire website will give you a holistic view of how your website is performing. The amount of time spent on the entire website will often be longer than the time spent on most of the individual pages. This is due to the fact that the time spent on the entire website is an average of all the pages a user has visited rather than just an average of one, individual page.
The second set of data is the average time users spend on the individual pages of your website. Some important pages that you will want to track include the homepage, your “Contact Us” page, your “Blog” page, and any other pages containing webforms which users can fill out and submit directly through your website. By tracking these pages along with the rest of your website, you can easily see which pages are the most engaging and therefore the most valuable to your users.
How Do You Use the Data?
If you are grabbing the attention of your users, they should be spending, on average, much more than 15 seconds on your website and its pages. When making evaluations about your website, look at the pages that have the longest average time spent. Are there patterns in the layout of the pages? What makes these pages stand out from the rest of your website? Is the content more engaging and more useful to users? Then, look at the pages that have the shortest average time spent. Are there broken links on the page? Is the content unoriginal and keyword-stuffed? Is the layout not user-friendly?
For instance, if you have a “Contact Us” page with a webform for users to fill out, and the average time spent on the page is only 30 seconds, that indicates that there is a huge area of opportunity for the page to gain more engagement. The average user will spend much more than 30 seconds to fill out a form so an easy website evaluation would be the following: Is the form easy to spot on the page? Is the form easy to read? Is the form appropriate for your potential customers? Are the fields on the form properly working?
Another metric to track is the difference between time spent on your site by computer users vs. phone users. If you notice that users who view your website on the computer spend an average of 3 minutes whereas users who view your website on the phone spend only an average of 30 seconds, you definitely want to double check that your website is properly optimized for mobile phones.
Although every page on a website serves a different purpose, there are a few general rules to remember that can help to increase the amount of time a user spends on your website:
- The website is responsive
- The website layout is user-friendly and easy to navigate
- The website images and colors complement each other
- The website links are all properly working
- The webforms are fully functional and easy to complete
- The keywords throughout your website are targeted towards the right audience
- Content for every page is original, unique, and useful to users
- Content is not duplicate content, spammy, and keyword-stuffed
Now you may be wondering, “should I only focus on the average time on my website?” Of course not. As mentioned in the beginning of the blog post, website visitor data is just as important. Remember, your website is a sum of many parts, so it is imperative to pay attention to the many different types of data available to you. Understand the nuances and value of every available metric, and you’ll be poised to make powerful decisions to propel your business in the right direction.