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If you know Google Analytics, you probably look at your “Average Time on Site,” “Average Position,” etc. It is important to understand why average metrics can be misleading and to look beyond the headlines and delve into the specifics. 

What should I be looking at?

When you are running an SEM campaign on Google AdWords, the BIG question that comes to mind is which Google Analytics metrics you should be focusing on. The fact that there are 138 million search results for “what should I look at in Google Analytics” proves this. One post that I recently read struck a chord with me.

The concise version is: averages are misleading. Putting it simply – In Google AdWords you can view average ad position for a keyword. If your average position is 3, this doesn’t mean you’ve appeared in position 3 the most; it could mean you have been in position 1 half the time and in position 5 the other half of the time. The same is true in Google Analytics for Average Time on Site and Average Pages per Visit. If your Average Time on Site is two minutes, this doesn’t mean this is most often the amount of time spent on site; it could mean half your visits last a minute, while the other half last for three minutes. But here is where it gets interesting. Unlike AdWords, Google Analytics lets you see behind these averages!

Behind the averages

Let’s take a look at Length of Visit Report and Depth of Visit Report. Unlike their glamorous cousins (the averages), these reports are not found on the Dashboard, but rather in your Visitors section of Google Analytics. Where these reports are found differs according to which version of Google Analytics you are using:

Version 4: Under Visitors > Visitor Loyalty > Length of Visit OR Depth of Visit

Version 5: Under Visitors > Behaviour > Engagement > Visit Duration or Page Depth

These reports let you see the proportion of visits that spent a certain length of time on site or viewed a certain number of pages in a visit.

The differences between the insights you can get are surprising.

An example:

Looking only at non-bounced visits over the last 30 days for a site,headline stats looked as follows:

Pretty healthy, right?

However, when we looked at the Length of Visit report, we saw that actually over 65% of visits to the site were LESS than three minutes long:

When we looked at Depth of Visit report, we saw that almost 70% of visits had FEWER than five pages viewed:

In summary, those visits where a billion pages are viewed and that last 14 hours are skewing the averages.

It is important to understand how visitors engage with your site. You should make sure that you are looking at the right metrics before making any big decisions.

Domus Inc. can help you better drive your SEM campaigns by helping you tailor-build them and making sure that you get more for the buck you spend on online advertising. You can get in touch with us by clicking here.

Dhawal Sehgal is a Programmer at Domus, Inc., a marketing communications agency based in Philadelphia. For more information, visit For new business inquiries, please contact CEO and founder of Domus, Inc. Betty Tuppeny at or 215-772-280

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