Google Analytics Changes How They Calculate Time On Site (Again)

by DigitalAlex on September 12, 2007

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Google Analytics Time On SiteA few posts ago, I wrote about how Google Analytics changed the way they calculate their time on site metric. They jettisoned visitors who only saw a single page (a bit of a challenge on a blog, eh?) in favor of calculating time on site only for visitors who saw 2+ pages. After much hubbub in the community, they’ve switched the time on site calculation back. Check out the full report on the official Google Analytics blog. Perhaps the Google Analytics team was riled by Dennis Mortensen gentle ribbing. The Web Analytics Association recently came out with 26 standard metrics (pdf) and here’s their word on Visit Duration. Sadly, they don’t talk about a standard for aggregating and averaging these data.

TERM: Visit Duration
Type: Count
Universe: Aggregate, Segmented

Definition/Calculation:
The length of time in a session. Calculation is typically the timestamp of the last
activity in the session minus the timestamp of the first activity of the session.

Comments:
When there is only one piece of activity in a session (a single-page visit or singleevent
visit), no visit duration is typically reported.

At the same time, Google Analytics also changed how they order parameters in the URLs the report. So, if you have a site with a URL structure like www.ilovealexcohen.com/index.htm?love=alex&alex=awesome, Google reorders it to www.ilovealexcohen.com/index.htm?alex=awesome&love=alex. And it treats the URLs as separate.

This could have a big impact on your funnels, goal tracking, navigation summary and more. Please review your data and make any adjustments as necessary.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Dennis R. Mortensen September 17, 2007 at 4:19 pm

very gentle! :-)

Cheers mate..

Dennis R. Mortensen, COO at IndexTools
http://visualrevenue.com/blog

2 Mario World Online March 10, 2011 at 2:37 pm

So do we know if the time on site is a total for all visitors or an average for all?

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