average-session-time

Zero Average Session Duration on the page in Google Analytics – The Solution

You are reading this which probably means you might have been experiencing 00:00:00 average session duration in Google Analytics which is quite surprising.

Does the image below looks familiar to your analytics profile ?

average-session-time

Average Session time 00:00:00

If the above image is familiar to you, you might be confused on how you get zero average session duration. Before you read out the rest, let me make you clear, this is quite natural and there is nothing you need to panic about.

The first thing when you see this comes into your mind is, if your visitors were distracted even before the website loads and that could be the reason for zero session time. This could be the same thing that came into my mind as well. I thought my website was slow that the visitors did not even waited for it to load. This was the only possible reason that bumped up in my head, but to be honest, I was completely wrong.

I checked into pingdom website speed checker and found that my blog loads at 3.24 seconds which was better than 50% of the websites that were checked there. So I was confident that the website load time was not the issue.

What then ? The Real Problem

Actually when a visitor, lets say Bob visits your website, Google Analytics sets a cookie with a timestamp stored. So lets say, if Bob arrives your websites at 7:00:00 the time is noted and when Bob goes through other page in your website, lets say at 7:00:15, analytics sets another timestamp, compares two and finally calculates the average time in the page(15 seconds in the scenario). This way analytics notices, the average time on the page.

What if Bob comes to your website, reads your page, for 30 seconds, does not visit any other page and moves out of the website ? Analytics would not have second timestamp to compare, so it shows the average time as 00:00:00. This is the real problem.

This means, when you have a bounce rate of 100%, the average stay on your website is theoretically zero as per analytics’ algorithm. So when you page has a bounce rate of 100%, you might have a misconception that people are not engaged at your content, but if you are careful, you know they are.

The Solution ?

A common solution is to set a javascript timeout and trigger an event after ten seconds or so (with the “interaction” flag in the event set to true, see Google Analytics event tracking docs for details). The assumption is that somebody who looks for more than ten seconds at you page is not actually a bounce (I think that since “bounce rate” has so hugely negative connotations people try to avoid high bounce rates even at the price of introducing bad data; you should realize that “bounce rate” simply means that there are not enough data points to say anything meaningful about those particular visitors).

Personally I do not like that approach because it means to redefine inaction of a visitor as action. A better idea (IMO) is to implement a meaningful interaction point – like a “read more” link that loads content via ajax or something like it – and track that via event tracking or virtual page view.

Source – StackOverflow

The Alternative Solution

So far we have noticed that the pages that has bounce rate are the one with problem, so what if we try to reduce the bounce rate of the page ? Although this is not a complete solution, you can always improve the actions to decrease your bounce rate. Following could be beneficial:

Seven effective ways to lower the bounce rate

In general, bounce is described as a single page visit in your website. So if a user, lets say Bob visits your page A, reads it and then exits out, this could be calculated as a bounce. So practically you need to offer the visitors something interesting to continue to other pages in your websites. This could be by offering some interesting reads which they would not ignore.

90% of my visitors comes from organic traffic and even they bounce. Why ? this might be because of two reasons:

Two main reasons why your visitors bounce ?

  • You are getting wrong kind of traffic
  • You are getting right kind of traffic.

The first one is understandable, however the second one could be confusing, but think of some people who come to your website and get exactly what they searched for, they might have no reason to browse through and then they bounce.

So with these seven simple ways, you could noticeably decrease your bounce rate.

1.Speed

This was the first thing that jumped up into my head when I got into this problem. Websites with higher load time has comparatively high bounce rate. Why would a visitor or even you(if you were a visitor to a slow, irritatingly loading page) wait if the website takes lots of time to load. Even Google hates sites that loads slow. So you could always analyze your side for load time speed and sort out the suggested solutions to improve the website load time which would ultimately improve your bounce rate.

2. Designing

A simple, clean and easy designing would always encourage the users to stay more. Ensure better readable fonts, clear out distractions and choose better color contrasts. This will ensure user satisfaction and a satisfied user is more probable to explore your content even more.

3. Popular Posts

The popular posts in the sidebar could be much beneficial to decrease your bounce rate. The popular content that has been hugely loved by your other audience could be a great way to keep your visitors engaged. This could be an influential way to improve our page views and decrease your bounce rate.

4. Offer Related Posts

Related posts at the end of reading could significantly increase the number of page views and ultimately decrease your bounce rate.

5. InterLinking

I have been explaning the importance of internal linking every now and then. They are very important for SEO, however interlinking not only improves your search engine presence, but linking to your existing content could help and increase your page views.

6. Optimized 404 error page templates

Think of a website, you search for something and get a 404 error. The content is not available or no more exists,  you get a 404 error and then you bounce out of the website. So in order to decrease bounce rate from your 404 pages, you could change your 404 templates and offer your visitors some interesting reads which could decrease the bounce rate and improve your user’s average stay time in your website.

7. Split Long Posts

When some visitors see long posts, they are highly likely to immediately leave the page. This would increase the bounce rate. So as a solution, you can considering splitting them as a pagination which would not only increase your bounce rate but also help your potential visitors get engaged to your content.

The Conclusion

The main reason for zero average session time is probably because you have a higher bounce rate. You have a zero average session time does not mean that it is actual time. Google calculates timestamp between two actions, once when you enter the page and once when you view other page, however if your visitors bounce away from the first page, theoretically you will experience zero average stay time.

You would probably consider decreasing the bounce rate which would help you improve your average time.

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