We recently wrote about the many benefits of Google Analytics as a tool for analyzing the traffic to your association’s website.   It is important to understand the metrics Google Analytics provides so that you can review the statistics and take appropriate steps to improve your site.  In this article we focus on two of the many available measurements:  bounce rate and time on page/site.

Bounce rate is the percentage of visits that are single page visits. As an association you want to attract visitors and keep them browsing your site to learn about upcoming events and the other resources you offer so you want a low bounce rate for your site.  If you have a high bounce rate, we advise the following:

  • Take a look at the links on your pages and make sure these are clearly visible and the site is easy to navigate.
  • Your content and link titles must be relevant to the user in order to capture their interest.
  • Check to see how long it takes to load pages on your site. If you have many high-resolution images, pages may take excessively long to load.
  • Make sure your pages are easy to read by paying attention to contrast and font size, especially since many people now view content on their mobile devices.

It’s great to generate a large number of visitors, but if they aren’t staying long, you’re missing opportunities to engage them further.  Regularly check the bounce rate on your site.  If it is high, dig deeper to see if it is being caused by specific pages – then take action.

Google Analytics will track the overall amount of time a user spends on your site as well as how much time is spent on a per page basis.  The measurement is provided in minutes and seconds.  The time spent on page metric is very important for landing pages or blogs to help you understand if people are actually reading your content.  If, for example, you have a long blog post on a page and most people visit your page for just a few seconds, you might need to reduce the amount of text.  Remember also that relevant content is key to holding a visitor’s attention, so consider rewriting your key content.

Google Analytics will track the time a user spends on each page and on your site as a whole, per visit.  Time on page is actually measured as the difference between the time when the request for a page was made, and the time when the next page is requested.  Because of the way Google Analytics counts time spent on pages, you might not realize that time is counted as zero seconds for the page which directly precedes the user’s exit off of the site.  The diagram below provided by the Google Analytics team visually illustrates the time on page calculations:

time on page diagram

The technical reason for doing so is that the tracking code does not run once the user leaves the site.

Both bounce rate and time on page provide deeper insight into how visitors are reacting to your website.  We encourage you to review these metrics regularly so you can take action to improve your site and better tailor it to meet your audience’s needs.