Simple Ways To Increase The Average Time On Page For Your Site

February 2024

In the physical world, it’s easy for customers to overstay their welcome. Sitting in a restaurant while the staff is making a big show of putting upturned chairs on the tables, wandering the aisles at a grocery store when the lights have been turned off, talking in the lobby of the movie theater while the vacuum cleaners come out.

When you’re running a brick and mortar operation, this sort of thing can be frustrating. But when you’re running a website, the script flips: now, the longer a potential customer hangs out, the better it is for everyone involved.

The 'Average Time on Page' metric is used by publishers and marketers to gauge user engagement, determining whether the site is keeping visitors interested, ultimately leading to longer sessions. It also measures the average time users are spending on individual pages before moving on.

Why Is Average Time On Page Important?

Drawing users in is an important component of running a successful website, but keeping them there once you’ve got them is also important, as long as it’s for good reasons.

What constitutes a “good” amount of time spent on page can vary depending on your website’s goals, content, and other factors. More time is often better, but not always: for example, if you’re trying to run a thriving ecommerce business, then infinitely-long session times mean that people aren’t pulling the trigger on a purchase and you might want to investigate ways to hurry people along. And users sticking around because they can’t find what they’re looking for, for example, is a game of keep-away that you don’t want to play.

On the other hand, if you’ve got a blog — like this one! — you want your session times to roughly parallel how long it would take to read the article. And you can see how that number would vary depending on how much content is on the page, so there’s no one-size-fits-all amount that’s definitely “good” or “bad” when it comes to average time.

It's an important component of site optimization, and you'll want this number as one of your key indicators.

Calculating Average Time On Page

Before you can start improving your average time on page, you need to know what you’re dealing with. To figure out your current average time on page, you divide the total amount of time spent on the page by the number of pageviews. However, you’ll also want to subtract bounces and page exits.

Google can only record time between pages on your own site — that’s why we have to remove exit pages from consideration, as they are untimed.

The formula you use, is therefore:

Average time on page = total time on page / (total page views - number of exits)

What Is A Good Average Time On Page?

Part of UGC's versatility for your marketing strategy is due to the wide varieAs we said earlier, it’s not one-size-fits-all, and it can vary wildly depending on factors. But that isn’t to say there aren’t some broad guidelines you can keep in mind when analyzing your site performance.ty of channels you can leverage this material on. This makes it possible to count on the benefits of this tool regardless of where your brand has a presence in the digital environment and even outside of it.

Shoot for a minute: if you’re just looking for the quickest, dirtiest answer to this question, that’s it. A minute is a decent average time for a wide variety of pages.

But if you’d like to get more granular — and you should — then let’s delve into this a little further. Contentsquare’s Digital Experience Benchmark is an annual report that covers a lot of these valuable online statistics, breaking them down into subgroups depending on content type and industry. According to their 2021 report, the average across all industries was 54 seconds.

Supporting graphics

As you can see, there’s a lot of fluctuation in the amount of time spent depending on the industry involved. Grocery sites experience the shortest sessions, possibly because customers are more likely to be looking for quick information like locations and hours. Websites focused on topics like Travel and Automotive experienced much longer session times, which makes sense for big-ticket, high-cost items that will require a lot of deliberation before a purchase. And far and away, B2B commerce had the longest session times, because people are visiting those sites as a part of their job responsibilities in various respects.

Those sites are primarily sales-oriented, however. For blog pages, you’ll want higher session lengths, approaching the 3-5 minute window. Obviously, a long blog takes longer to read than a product description.

Conversely, an average page view time of below 40 seconds might indicate you’ve got some real room for improvement.

Improving Average Time On Page

Luckily, a lot of the things you can do to improve your average time on page will improve a lot of other things: time spent on your site as a whole, lowering bounce rate, improving content engagement, even potentially improving sales. There’s a big intersection between actions you can take as part of good site hygiene that will impact a lot of different metrics favorably at once.

Actions like:

Create High-Quality Content: This part seems obvious, but churning out a steady stream of content is difficult, and sometimes we don’t give individual pages the attention they deserve. You need engaging content that informs, entertains, and hooks readers so that they’ll keep reading, and be compelled to read more of your site afterwards. In the peak of the print era, newspapers kept their written content to an eighth-grade reading level; sticking to that kind of rule for your own content will help ensure that your readers don’t get frustrated on something they don’t understand.

Organize Your Site: if people find themselves getting lost on your site, they may simply bail for a competing website that’s easier to navigate. Clearly-defined and organized menus that make it easy for people to find what they’re looking for means they aren’t likely to get frustrated and leave — and removing frustration is one of the best ways to improve your numbers on almost every category.

Use Visuals: Big blocks of text can be intimidating and boring. Consider breaking the monotony with visual elements; it can be as simple as downloading stock photos, or as complicated as commissioning custom artwork for your page. This has been a key component of good visual design for decades.

Search Engine Optimization: Sometimes, people leave your page because the content they’ve found is jarring or different compared to what they thought they were clicking on in the search engine results. Making sure that your meta-descriptions, headlines, and other SEO practices are well-aligned to the content will help ensure that users are getting the content they were promised - relevant content for their search.Search Engine Optimization:

Use Internal Linking: good for reducing bounce rate as well, using internal linking circulates your own content from your other pages - either by linking to other relevant articles in the text, or by using something like Insticator’s Content Circulation Tool to rotate referrals to other relevant pages within your own content. This cuts down on page exits and bounce and keeps people on your site for longer.

Allow Comments: allowing users to comment below your content may be a bit intimidating, but commenting boards can draw users in by giving them a place to build community. Reading, writing, and responding to comments all take time, and that’s time that’s spent on your page. Some commenting platforms, like Insticator’s Commenting 2.0, will send users email updates if someone has replied to their comments, drawing them back into the page. Additional features can make it into a game, with badges and other rewards that keep them on your page longer.

Content Engagement: content that allows your users to be a more-active participant in page content can also help hold their attention and investment for longer. Things like polls and trivia — part of Insticator’s Content Engagement Unit — again help make your page more-engrossing. The best part is the way they pair with commenting: users voting in a poll question can take to the comments to defend their choices, which can send your average time on page through the roof.

Keep Your Experience Clean: a lot of the ways we improve on bounce rates are also ways to keep users on your page longer. Improving your site’s loading times will make it easier to click around your pages, and content that won’t load is content your users can’t engage with. Making sure things like images are optimized to load quickly, and that your site layout doesn’t shift around much while the page loads are also key here. And eliminating noisy or obtrusive pop-up ads can improve your user’s experience while also speeding up loading times. Lastly, make sure you’ve got a mobile-friendly version of your page available - users who struggle to read your site on a phone won’t stay long.

Audit Your Existing Content: identify pages that need improvement according to the guidelines we’ve been discussing. Could they use a re-write? A pass for search engine optimization? Maybe some eye-catching visuals? Not every page will have a high average time - your “Contact Us” page, for example, probably doesn’t take long to read and that’s as it should be - but fixing or removing pages that are pulling down your overall average is the way to go, rather than simply focusing on doing better going forward.

Final Thoughts

Obviously, some of these tricks will take longer than others to pull off, and some will have greater impact than others depending on your site, your audience, and your goals. Thankfully, the majority of these tweaks will have multiple benefits to multiple areas of your site. Your positioning on search engines, your bounce rate, your ad monetization may all see a bump from improving the user experience.

And if you’d like additional help, Insticator’s suite of content engagement tools can be an easily-implemented way to improve these numbers, specifically optimized so as not to slow down your site’s load times or other core web vitals. To learn more, contact us today.

Sean Kelly

Written by

Sean Kelly, Senior Content Writer