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Does Time on Page Metric Affect SEO?
Do you often hear SEO experts talk about time on page being one of the most important performance metrics? Many people think that it is the key to getting your website ranked higher in search engine results. But, is this actually true or have we been misled into believing a myth? In this blog post, let's dive deep into understanding what time on page metric means and how it affects SEO. We will also look at practical ways that can help you improve your site’s ranking by optimizing for time on page metric. So if you want to know more about this topic, keep reading!
What Is Time on Page?
The Time on Page, aka average time on page, is a metric used to calculate the time spent by a user on a particular page. It starts as the user land on the page. It ends when they leave the site or close the window. A user is considered to move on from the page when they click on a link to move to the next page within the website.
Although it looks simple, calculating the average Time on Page is tricky. This is because google has rules in place.
Google Analytics tracks Time on Page by measuring the difference between the timestamps. This metric does not calculate bounce or exit pages. That means, if the user exits the website without visiting another page, the time-on-page will be considered 0.
Google Analytics counts the time even if you have minimized the tab. For example, each tab you open tracks the time spent on the respective page. It doesn't matter whether you are viewing the page or not.
Google can't Measure the Time Spent on the Last Page You Visited on a Website
Let's say a user land on a website's page A, spend 1 minute, move to page B, and spend 55 seconds. Then they go to page C, spend 2 minutes, and close the window. In such circumstances, google analytics will only consider the time on Page A and Page C. It will ignore the time spent on Page C.
Google Analytics cannot track the time of the page when you close the window or tab or type another URL and go to another page. Therefore, most SEO experts consider the metric inaccurate for blogs and DIY pages. This is because users often come to a blog, get the information, and leave soon after.
We can infer that the Time on Page metric is not statistically reliable about a user's actual time on a site. However, there are ways to improve the accuracy and get valuable insight into user behavior. For this, you can use metrics like completion rate or average read percentage.
How Valuable is Time on Page Metric for SEO?
As mentioned above, the time on the page may not give you an actual representation of all sites. However, this metric is pretty crucial for sites with departure pages. For example, any site where the user journey ends with the order confirmation page.
So you can use this metric only for pages with a low departure rate.
When used strategically, the time-on-page metric can offer deeper insights into users. It tells you whether your users find your content engaging.
Meanwhile, Google Analytics also calculates the time even when the tab is minimized. So Google can't detect whether the user was actually reading the page.
You have to use your best judgment to rule out such a possibility. Check how much time it takes to go through the whole page. Then, check how much time the user spent on the page.
Assume a page has a small piece of information that takes 55 seconds to read. However, you find time on the page saying 3 minutes. That could indicate the user had simply minimized the page for some reason.
How to Find the Time on Page Metric in Google Analytics?
Go to analytics.google.com.
Select the website you want to check the time on page metric.
Click on Behavior >site content>All pages.
You will see a range of metrics on the left side of the screen. This includes the page on time, unique page views, bounce rates, entrances, and page views next to each webpage.
What is the Ideal Average Time on Page?
Once you access the time on page data, you can assess them for improvement. There is no definite average Time on Page. Each page is unique, and the time on the page varies on different factors.
According to a study, an average visitor spends around 52 seconds on pages related to all industries. You can compare your metrics to this benchmark. However, for better results, you need to focus on continuous improvement. Every effort should be about implementing ways to keep your visitors within the website.
The best way is to set your benchmark according to your page's content. For example, a slow reader takes 4 minutes to read a 500 words blog post or article. Meanwhile, an average reader can complete reading within 1.7 minutes.
Remember, the time on page metrics don't give a realistic picture for blog posts and articles. Users usually go back after reading it. However, you can do internal linking to ensure they don't leave after reading one article.
Add relevant links to your existing articles to increase user engagement. For example, you can link Page B about "5 home remedies for dark circles" to page A, "why do I have dark circles?". So, when people land on page A, they are more likely to read page B. This way, you can increase your page's time on page duration.
Why don't I See Conversion Even with a Long Time on Page?
Generally, it is good if users spend longer on your pages. However, it may warrant an issue if it doesn't lead to any conversion.
You have to see the contents of each page through the lens of your visitors.
For example, your main focus is sales if you run an eCommerce website. So, if customers are not buying even after spending a long time, it could mean −
They find your content confusing
You have put much information that might overwhelm users
Your contents are not relevant to what users have searched for
Tips to Improve Your Average Time on Page
Following are some of the ways you can implement to increase the average time on page −
Add internal links to your content with relevant content. This can persuade visitors to spend more time.
Add videos to your site. This is an excellent way to keep hold of your audience's attention.
Check the readability quality of your content. If you use challenging terms and sentence formation, it would be hard for some people to understand it. Always use lucid, short, and easy-to-read sentences.
Optimize your site performance. Your site might be too slow in loading. This could lead to higher bounce rates.
Publish high-quality and helpful content. Focus on giving what customers are looking for. Don't write unnecessary information that is irrelevant to the topic.
Keep the user experience friendly and clean. Remove unnecessary fields from the contact form and pop-ups, followed by a search functionality. This would be helpful for users to search for an article related to a specific topic. Also, a search function allows users to return to a half-read or an old article.
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