What Are “Time On Page” And “Session Duration”

“Time on page” and “Session duration” are two terms that are frequently used in regards to Google Analytics, but they are either misunderstood or confused with each other. But, after reading this blog, you will clear your mind of any confusions and doubts regarding these two terms. Defining “Time on Page”, it is the average amount of time a user spends on a website’s page. And, “Session Duration” is the amount of time a user spends on a website in total. However, the confusion and doubts don’t stop here. There are lots of questions to these terms that are seen to be asked by website owners. To solve such queries, this blog states the frequently encountered questions, and the answers to all of them.

How are “Time On Page” and “Session Duration” measured?

Now you know what the two terms mean, but how are they calculated? Google Analytics uses time-stamps to record when pages were loaded, meaning that every time a page was opened or an action was taken is recorded. Whenever a hit occurs, Google Analytics applies a time-stamp; a “Hit” being a page load or action trigger. By looking at the time difference between two consecutive hits, Google Analytics measures periods of time. In this manner,

Time on Page = Time at second hit – Time at first hit; and

Session Duration = Time at last session hit – Time at first session hit

What if a page is left open, sitting idle in the background?

Quite a few times, users open a page and then just let it sit open in the background, while doing many other things on another tab. So, how does Google Analytics count this? Well, this entirely depends upon how the Google Analytics code is triggered. Whether it is coded directly into the page or through a tag manager is important. It is also important to determine how long it takes for a website to send information to Google Analytics. Generally, as soon as a JavaScript containing the Google Analytics code loads, information is sent to Google Analytics. And, the JavaScript loads in the browser even if it is opened in another tab.

Is the time calculated by Google Analytics accurate?

Although you would say that Google is always perfect, you may be wrong here. This is because the last hit on a user visit is the time when a page was loaded or an action was taken, but it isn’t the time when the user left the website. After the last hit, a user may have spent some time on site before leaving the page, which Google Analytics cannot calculate. This means that the two metrics calculated by Google Analytics are always lower than the true value of how long a user spent time on a page or website. However, you needn’t fret because no one metric can come to a conclusion. This is why it is suggested that you also use sessions, conversions, bounce rate, search engine rankings, crawl errors, Google trends, and other such context, in addition to ‘Time on Page’ and ‘Session Duration’, to define the performance of a page/site, and come up with an appropriate strategy for the future.

To sum it up, we now know that it is entirely dependent upon the coding to decide upon how “Time on Page” and “Session Duration” are calculated. Moreover, you can never be sure about the accuracy level of these metrics. This is why it is always better to hire professional SEO services in India to help you take care of all your SEO aspects in the most skilled and result-oriented manner.