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Avg. Session Duration (Seconds)

Avg. Session Duration (Seconds)



*Some metrics can be pulled into AdWords columns from Google Analytics, for you to see this data you must have a Google Analytics account and it must be linked to the AdWords account… Specific Google Analytics tracking code is also required for this data to be pulled into any account.

Avg. Session Duration (Seconds)

Quick Description = Average length of time a user spends on your site in any one session

Calculation: total duration of all sessions (in seconds) / number of sessions

Referred to as = Avg. session duration (seconds)

This metric is essentially the average amount of time (in seconds) that a visitor session lasts. There are however some nuances to this that make the metric potentially a little less valuable. Like much of the data provided in Google Analytics, it is great for trend analysis but not highly accurate.


Before we discuss Avg. Session Duration, we should understand a little bit about Sessions… A session is a collection of activities that all took place on your website within a time frame for a single user.

For example a session could include a range of PageViews and goal completions as the image below illustrates:


Sessions do differ from Clicks, if you are unfamiliar with the difference, we have summarised them below:

  • Multiple ad clicks can result in multiple clicks but only a single session as a session is time based.
  • A user returning to your site directly (through a bookmark for example) after having clicked on an ad will often result in multiple sessions but only a single click.
  • If a page does not load properly after an ad click, you may not see a recorded session where you do see a click.
  • Invalid clicks are removed from click reports but not from sessions.

How Avg. Session Duration Works

Avg. Session Duration can be calculated in two different ways, we cover both in more depth in a guide to Google Analytics Engagement Metrics.

Understanding how long people are spending on your site, if this is increasing, decreasing, high or low etc can all impact how you structure your content and what content you deliver to users. Typically you will want to see higher average session durations than lower, though there may be sweet spots where a narrow range of session duration correlates to increased conversion rates.

What is Not Counted?

This metric can be misleading and is often misunderstood by people. Because Google uses the difference in time stamps of a PageView as the way of calculating session duration; when a user leaves your site, there is no way for Google to record this action. Therefore session duration does not include the time spent on the last page viewed during the session. Consequently this metric should be seen as a guide rather than a solid number.

If a user who visits your site and leaves after seeing only one page, you will see 1 session, 1 PageView and 0 seconds session duration regardless of the time they spent on the page. The result of this is that the metric can be misleading if you include bounced visitors.

Engagement Metrics

Google Analytics has a large suite of engagement metrics to help you understand user behaviour and engagement with your content. Pages per session is a good indicator of engagement, most of the time, the more pages the user visits typically indicates a higher level of interest in your site’s content.

This may not be the case if the time on page is very low, as this could indicate someone who cannot find the content they are looking for.

More Information

If you liked this guide on Pages Per Session, you may also be interested in the following guides related to this subject:

  • Bounce rate
  • Pages Per Session
  • % New Sessions
  • Sessions
  • Google Analytics Metrics
  • Google Analytics


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