#FreeAdvice June 2019: Google Analytics Engagement Metrics

#FreeAdvice is a monthly feature where we take your questions about search/analytics/etc and answer them here. The number of answers will vary based on length, complexity, our energy levels.

Google Analytics has many important metrics and information but it’s hard to know what each of the metrics mean and what these metrics should be for each site. Engagement metrics help SEOs and site owners understand how a user is engaging with a site. Are they visiting one page and leaving? Are they spending enough time reading the blogs? How many pages does a user view on average? Below are brief explanations of three of the most common engagement metrics.

What is Bounce Rate?

Bounce rate is the average number of times a session had a duration of 0 seconds and no interaction with the site. Essentially, this metric helps shed light on users that land on a page and immediately leaves the site. Bounce rate can be found in a number of reports alongside average session duration and pages per session including the Audience Overview (Audience>>Overview) and Acquisition overview (Acquisition>>Overview).

What is the Best Bounce Rate?

Bounce rate is looked at a little differently than most other metrics in Google Analytics, a high bounce rate is bad and a low bounce rate is good (whereas most other metrics we want to be higher rather than lower). The most important thing to note about bounce rate is that it shouldn’t be zero and a very low bounce rate shouldn’t be the goal. People are going to visit one page of a website and go away – and that’s okay. The goal is to make sure the bounce rate doesn’t get out of hand. Once the bounce rate has reached 70% or more, there is a need for evaluation to make sure keyword targeting is on track and that users are finding the right answers to their questions or needs. Some clients, regularly have bounce rates of 60% or more and that’s okay too. It’s a metric that should be looked at to determine how effectively the site is at directing users to new pages on a site during a visit but each site will have a unique sweet spot for the bounce rate metric.

What is Average Session Duration?

Average session duration is the average length of a session with all visits included. Average session duration is calculated in seconds by dividing the total duration of all sessions by the number of sessions. It’s also important to note that Average Session Duration does not include bounces because no time is recorded for those visits. Average Session Duration can be seen in a number of reports in Google Analytics including the Landing Page Report (Behavior>>Site Content>>Landing Pages) and the Channels Report (Acquisition>>All Traffic>>Channels).

An individual session duration (“Session Duration”) is calculated based on user action or “hits”. The duration is calculated from the first time a user interacts with a first page to when the user last interacts with the site. This metric does not count the amount of time a user sits on a site inactive.

What is a Good Average Session Duration?

A higher average session duration is always better but there isn’t a perfect number. A site’s purpose will have the biggest impact on session duration. If a site’s main goal is for a user to read long-form content or articles, then the goal for the average session duration should be more than a few minutes because we want users to read and consume a lot of copy. If the site in question is an ecommerce site that’s main focus is to sell low cost products, then the time on site would be expected to be lower than content focused site.

What is Pages Per Session?

Pages per session is the number of pages a user visits in a given session. Pages per session can be found in the same reports as Bounce Rate and Average Session Duration.

What is an Ideal Pages Per Session?

The ideal pages per session is again dependent on the type of site in question. More is typically better because that indicates that users are easily navigating the site and finding useful information or products to buy. Pages per session is typically higher for larger sites selling products that are easily navigated to.

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