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Decreasing time on pages

     
1:51 am on Oct 31, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I've been trying to really focus on what different visitors want, so have created an index at the top of the pages, for readers to go to the section they want (if that is what they want to do), and also a brief 4 point summary of the topic.

With a lot of work fixing up problems associated with moving to Wordpress, and making improvements, my traffic is showing some nice growth. BUT, I have noticed the time on the pages is decreasing. Just looking at Analytics now, traffic is up by 4.43%, but time on page is down by 1.4%. It's not enough, but it got me thinking, is less time on the pages going to be an issue? The average time is 4 minutes 12 seconds. I don't know if that's good, bad or ugly.
2:06 am on Oct 31, 2017 (gmt 0)

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You say time on page is down by 1.4%.
And you say the average time is 4 minutes 12 seconds aka 252 seconds.
So you are asking about a changes of 4 seconds while your traffic is up almost 5%?

I wouldn't worry about the small stuff and 4 seconds is small stuff for time on page. Every site and industry is going to be different. The same site is going to have very different results for different keywords. For example a password retrieval page is probably going to have a very quick time compared to a page with a 10 minute video.

I'd focus on providing a superior experience. Valuable sites gain more backlinks & referring traffic from non-Google sources which in turn leads to more Google traffic. Making a site that users value and enjoy using will most often take care of the ranking signals that Google wants. Don't blindly chase after metrics. Remember the big strategy & goals.
2:08 am on Oct 31, 2017 (gmt 0)

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That is a difficult question to answer. If the users is getting what they are looking for quicker, it isn't necessarily a bad thing. Just be sure you have something to do once they found what they want (like a quality ad, or a link to some relevant content)

But be careful, average time on page can be a misleading statistic. A lower bounce rate should increase your average time on page, since bounces count as 0 even though the user that bounce may have spent time reading your content. Also be sure to segment your users between mobile and desktop. Mobile users tend to spend less time on a page, so if there is a sharp increase in mobile users this could lead to a decrease in average time on page. But the decrease will only be the result of the shift in user type and not due to the change in layout or content. So compare apple with apple.
2:40 am on Oct 31, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Thanks for the replies. I know it's only a small figure (4.16 to 4.12), but I've not rolled these changes out site wide yet, I only noticed last night and wondered if my trying to appeal to all visitors (long form and TL;DR) might be hurting me.

Another thing I've started to do is answer the question in an image as well as written in the content, I had Facebook in mind more than Google when I came up with this because I know people on FB love sharing images. Google seem to like it as I've noticed some of the articles with that feature in them have moved into the answer box (of course it could be the other changes I've made too, but they're showing those images with text in them). Images always draw attention, so they're getting the answer quickly visually too.

I always wondered if Google look at what people do after. So, they go to the page, get the answer and then to to a completely unrelated site vs go to the page, click back and go to the next result down.