Google Analytics Time On Page

Understanding Google Analytics Part 2: Understanding Time On Page

Time On Page—seems pretty straightforward isn’t it?

Like the name implies, it refers to how much time a particular user spends on a particular URL on your site.

So let’s say I find myself on your website. Google Analytics tracks the time I spend from the moment I go to your landing page, to the time I click on another link or type another URL on the browser where I leave that page.

Why Is Time On Page Important?

The average time a visitor spends on a particular page on your site says a lot about how well you’re meeting the expectations a visitor has. Generally, if your visitors spend a lot of time on a page, it shows that your content is engaging, you have informative articles, or you are providing material on your site that your audience wants and expects.

Now, What If…

What if, I visited a page on your site, browsed it for a couple of minutes and then left my computer to go grab lunch for an hour? How would Time On Page be affected?

Fortunately, it won’t have that much of an impact for a couple of reasons.

1. Google Analytics will automatically time out (normally after about 30 minutes of inactivity).
2. This actual scenario happens pretty rarely and when you have plenty of traffic going to your pages, if it does happen, it won’t affect the numbers too much.

The only time this *could* affect you, is if you have a VSL (Video Sales Letter) that is long enough to “time out” your page.  In this case you'll want to adjust the default time in Google Analytics.

How Can “Time On Page” Work For You?

Here are a few ways you can use Time On Page to improve your marketing efforts.

If you have a VSL that’s about 20 minutes long and your average Time On Page result for this page is only about 2 minutes, it means your audience isn’t watching your video.

If you notice that your Time On Page says zero, it might mean that your page is loading slowly and visitors are leaving before they can see your content.

If you run a blog, you can sort by Time On Page and see which posts people spend the most time on. This will give you a better idea of what topics people really like, so you can create more of the same.

Finally, let’s tie in Bounce Rate. In general, the formula is:

Low Bounce Rate + High Time On Page = Engaged and Interested Visitors

Combining both these metrics, and you’ll get a better idea of what pages are contributing to high engagement.


Speaking of engagement, whether or not your users engage on your page (and therefore contribute to a high Time On Page) will depend greatly on whether they are on their desktop or mobile.

I would strongly recommend that you segment your audience and assess the results from there. One segment studies the Time On Page spent on desktop or tablet, another segment looks into the Time On Page spent on a mobile phones.

If it shows that your Time On Page for mobile users is low, it might mean that your page takes too long to load or that your website has to be optimized better for mobile use so it doesn’t drive users to leave so quickly. If your desktop Time On Page shows significantly higher results, review the pages and see what you can incorporate into your mobile strategy to help improve things.

So far we’ve covered Bounce Rate and Time On Page. Both are equally important and will offer insight into what your visitors respond to, and gives you a chance to tailor your strategies to better serve their needs and improve your results.

Next in this series…

We’ll cover Users and Sessions (coming soon!)

– Mercer

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About The Author


Chris Mercer, who typically goes by "Mercer", has a sales and marketing background that stretches over 20 years. He began his online marketing career in 2009 and has become a sought after analytics & conversions expert, helping other top-marketers to improve their own offers and sales funnels. Now decades of real-world experience are brought to you post-by-post as he delivers Seriously Simple Marketing tips that you can use to build your own business!