While checking google analytics report, you might get 00:00:00 Avg. session duration and zero time on page. You might be wonder, why you are getting this type of report. It is simple logic that if any visitor is visiting any website then it will spend at least one second on the web site before closing, and that should be reflected into google analytics report.  Let’s take real example.zero-session-duration2

In above report, you can see, Avg. session duration, from all shown cities is zero. Let’s take an example of city Jinan from where a website is getting 8 sessions and all 8 sessions are new session but still Avg. session duration is Zero.

When people’s get this type of report they might think that there is something wrong in google analytics implementation or their website not good enough to engage visitors or website behavior is not proper.

If you are also thinking something like this, then Don’t worry! Nothing is wrong in your website or google analytics implementation.  Everything is fine, but this is one of the limitations of google analytics.  Due to, its own limitation, google analytics is not able to properly calculation Time on page or Avg. session duration.

Cause of Problem

“Google analytics can’t measure the time a user (visitor) spend on the last page of their visit on your website.” Due to this limitation, in some cases it shows zero Time on page or zero Avg. session duration.

This happens because Google uses the time of the next page view to determining the time you spent looking at the current page. On the last page, there is no next page recorded, so the Time on Page is unknown (recorded as 0) and the Session Duration ends when they opened the last page. Let’s understand with an example.

Zero (00:00:00) Time on Page

Let say a visitor1 came to your website and landed at /article page, suppose it landed at 0.00 time and move to /home page at time 0.45, so time on /article page will be 0.45-0.00=0.45 (timestamp of the last page – timestamp of that page).  Now suppose visitor1 moves to /about page at 0.55, so time on /home page will be 0.55-0.45=0.10.  After /about page visitor1 left the website, in this case google analytics will not able to calculate Time on /about page and by default it shows 0.  Session duration for this visit will be (0.45+0.10)/1 = 0.55.zero-time-on-page

Zero (00:00:00) Avg. Session Duration

Take another example where visitor2 visited only /home page of a website and left. In this page both Time on page and Avg. session duration will be 0. Check given image.

zero-session-duration22

100% Bounce Rate

You may see 100% bounce rate for pages which are getting zero time on page, it doesn’t mean that visitors are not spending time on your page but it simply means that visitors left from the page where they landed and google analytics don’t have any indication to measure Avg. session duration or Time on Page.

Visitors may have spent 15 seconds or 15 minutes but google analytics don’t know about it, so they show 0.  Did visitors read your website page? GA have no clue about it, they only know that visitor didn’t visit any other page of a website within that session (that is within 30 minutes).

Note

If, for you, it is really important to track time spent by bounced visitors then you could set up trackPageview(‘exit’) in the page unload event. Google would then be able to calculate time on page for bounces. Then again, this would cause Analytics to report no bounces. And it is not the simplest thing to do.

Conclusion

It is not recommended to use Avg. session duration as your key performance indicator for your website as it is influenced by several other metrics like Bounce rate, session count, Pages/Session etc.  Nothing is perfect so is google analytics but is doesn’t mean that google analytics is not useful. Apart from few reports, it provides perfect information about visitor’s behavior, traffic sources, and conversions. So use google analytics as it is free.  Use the comment box to ask any question or provide any suggestion.

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