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Average Time on Website: Cheat the Internet’s Short Attention Span

Average Time on Website_ Cheat the Internet’s Short Attention Span

The average time spent on a website can be an indicator of its technical health and content value.

Building and maintaining a high-quality website requires a lot of time, effort, resources, and consistency. In fact, every bit of this work is worth it. It’s important for your image and reputation, your online presence, and even for growing your business.

But what happens if people visit your website only to leave in a few seconds? Or if they spend quite a bit of time wandering around, but never convert?

In this article, we’ll talk about how to cheat the internet’s short attention span and boost the average time visitors spend on your website.

Let’s get on with it!

Why Is the Average Time on Websites Important?

Why Is Average Time on Websites Important

Online users have little patience with technology that is not intuitive. If they can’t figure out your website at first glance, they are as good as gone.

Their browsing behavior can show you whether there is something wrong with your pages and where there’s room for improvement.

By analyzing the average time they spend on your website, you can find ways to optimize the customer journey. This way, you can still engage your visitors and provide a great experience.

Measuring the Average Time Spent on A Website

You are probably already asking yourself:

“How do I measure the average time people spend on my website? Is it the sum of the average time spent on all pages? And what is a good average time on page, anyway?”

The short answer to all these questions is – it depends.

When they want to understand the average time spent on their websites, owners usually turn to the average time on page and average session duration statistics in Google Analytics.

Of the two, the average session duration is the more accurate metric as it shows how long users spend on the website from the moment they land, to the moment they leave or become idle for a set period of time.

Average time on page can be valuable when tracking user behavior, but deciphering its meaning can be tricky.

When it records it, Google Analytics only takes into account specific situations. For example, it measures the time between hits within a website. This means that if the user lands on a page and leaves immediately or spends some time on it and leaves without visiting another page on the website, their time will not be recorded.

Simply put, exit and bonus pages are not included in the average time on page statistics, and this makes the results quite limited in scope.

Still, it’s best to keep track of both metrics. Make sure you cross-reference them with your bounce and exit rate and investigate suspicious results.

Also, it may help to implement some real-life tests and observe how people interact with your website to identify potential issues.

What Is a Good Average Time on Website and Page?

Each type of website retains the user’s attention in a different way.

Also, how long people spend on a page and/or website varies between industries:

Average Session Duration by Industry

That said, take these numbers with a pinch of salt, because they are constantly fluctuating and depend on many outside factors. These include economical changes, trends in consumer behavior, seasonality, etc.

For example, the Covid-19 pandemic and the following lockdowns caused people to spend more time at home and, respectively, more time online. The specific circumstances boosted the average time on website and page they spend on shopping and grocery, government and medical platforms.

Furthermore, the type of content you publish also matters – people engage longer with videos, blog posts, gamified content, infographics, knowledge bases, and FAQ pages.

The more content you have on your website and the higher quality it is, the more likely you are to retain the user’s attention.

However, there are other factors that can affect how people interact with your website.

How to Increase the Time People Spend on Your Website

Whatever numbers you have your average time on page and average session duration sections in Google Analytics, and whatever your customer behavior analysis results tell you, on a website, there’s always room for improvement.

That’s because technology, web design, content consumption, and SEO trends are constantly changing. Also, even the best of websites may happen to, occasionally, have hiccups without you even noticing.

This means that, to increase the time people spend on your website, you need to constantly monitor, maintain, and improve it.

Here are the most relevant areas to focus on:

How to Increase the Time People Spend on Your Website

1. Revise Your Website Structure

One of the easiest ways to aggravate and drive away your website visitors is with confusing information architecture.

When they land on your pages, users should be able to find their way around without effort. To that end, you need intuitive navigation, clear design, and flat architecture.

The combination of these factors increases the usability of your website. After all, the goal is to make it easier for users to navigate, find what they are looking for, and achieve their goals.

Make sure that all pages are accessible within 3-to-4 clicks from the homepage. Also, it’s important to organize them into categories that make sense to how the user interacts with content.

To better understand what parts of your website structure confuse visitors, it’s best to conduct observational research and monitor how people interact with it in real-life in a controlled and uncontrolled environment.

For best results, the participants in the test sample should be representative of your buyer personas. By analyzing their behavior and feedback, you can find out what setbacks damage the UX, and fix them.

2. Improve Page Experience Factors

Nothing tests the internet’s short attention span better than slow loading and unresponsive pages.

These issues are among the top reasons why bounce rates and exit pages are accounted for in the average session duration, and bring down the results.

First of all, if your pages load slowly, it’s a safe bet that your average time on website rates will be unsatisfactory. That’s because, nowadays, users wait for up to 3 seconds after they click on a link before they lose patience and hop to the next website.

A fast-loading website is the default now and your customers are not likely to be satisfied with anything less.

However, page experience doesn’t end here.

How soon after they access the page, the user is able to interact with the content also matters.

You need to measure and monitor the core web vitals of your website and improve them. The more stable and responsive your pages are, the less likely people are to become frustrated and leave without engaging with the content.

3. Make Your Content Mobile-Friendly

Most people interact with your website on their mobile devices. In fact, more than half of all traffic worldwide is mobile.

Percentage of mobile device website traffic worldwide

To increase the chances of these users staying on your website long enough to see what you offer, you need to ensure that your pages and content are optimized for mobile.

And we are not only talking about layouts and design here, although these are integral.

In order to increase the average time on website metric, your website needs to render perfectly on small screens, and your content needs to be properly structured and optimized so people can view, understand, and engage with it effortlessly.

You know how frustrating it is to struggle with a website on a mobile device, right?

If you want to overcome the fragile attention span of your visitors, you shouldn’t test their patience.

4. Analyze and Improve Exit Pages

Analyze and Improve Exit Pages

When reviewing the reports in your Google Analytics dashboard, you’ve probably noticed “exit pages”.

When it comes to what reduces the time people spend on your website, reviewing those should be a top priority.

As the name suggests, exit pages are places on your website where people leave.

There are, of course, locations where this is normal – such as checkout and contact pages, for example. There, people complete an action and leave the website satisfied.

However, if a page where the user is supposed to engage and spend quality time interacting with your content becomes an exit page, this may indicate an issue.

There may be technical problems, the content may be low-quality, the CTA may be out of place, or there may be another issue that is not that obvious.

You should review and revise all exit pages, and if you come across any of them where the problem is not obvious, you should, once again, consider doing real-life tests with users.

5. Provide High-Quality Engaging Content

This one is kind of obvious, right?

For users to spend more time on your website, the content they find there needs to be of high quality and promote engagement.

Many businesses make their website with a focus on the company and its assets. However, while this information should, by all means, be present, you should consider shifting the focus toward how the user can benefit from working with you.

For your website to grab the attention of visitors and keep them around much longer, you need to publish the types of content that they favor.

As mentioned, there are formats like video, infographics, blogs, etc., that tend to attract more attention and boost the average time spent on websites.

However, to be sure that what you offer is what people expect, you should consider implementing market research to better understand your audience and their preferences. This way your pages will never disappoint!

Bottom Line

Nowadays, engaging the user’s attention is a difficult task. People are easily distracted, have high technical standards, and don’t want to wait around for, practically, anything.

If a website is slow, confusing, and/or doesn’t live up to their expectations, they are more likely to leave in favor of a competitor’s.

Businesses should track the average time that people spend on their websites, analyze visitor behavior, and look for ways to improve the user experience.

This will provide them with an advantage in the never-ending battle for the customer’s attention.

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