Metric converted into KPI: Time on Site

Today we will look at a simple but often scrutinized metric and try to convert it into a valuable business Key Performance Indicator (KPI). We will look at the Average Time on Site metric.

What is the Average Time on Site in Google Analytics?

The time on site for a visit is calculated by substracting the date of the beginning of the visit from the date of the last page viewed. Therefore, a visitor who bounced, i.e. who will have seen only one page, will have a Time on Site of 0 second.

What does this metric tell you?

It useful to know how much time in average your visitors spent on your site. But you have to put that metric in context. By that, I mean you won’t come up to the same conclusion for an e-commerce website than for a blog.

How to translate this metric into a Key Performance Indicator?

A KPI must lead to action. The Average Time on Site itself doesn’t do much. Your visitors stay on average 1 minute on your site. So what? How to transform it into a valuable KPI?

Let’s say you invest a lot into your brand new shopping cart. Of course, you want those visitors to ultimately buy something quick and easy, right?

The KPI: Average time to complete check out

A valuable and actionable KPI could be “Average time to complete check out”. Why? Because your business objective is to provide and quick and easy shopping cart. To do so, visitors must buy and exit in the less time possible. So looking at the average time to complete a check out would tell you if you’re on track.

Average time is too high? You take action. Too low? Well, it can’t be too low, but is there any way to improve this? In any case, this KPI leads to action.


In conclusion, Average Time on Site is a metric but not a KPI by itself. It has to be segmented and has to support an business objective. In this scenario, the objective is to provide a quick and easy shopping cart. The Average Time to check out is the KPI to evaluate how we are moving toward this objective.

What do you think? Do you have any example of how to use the Average Time on site as a KPI?

*Photo credit

Stéphane has been working on business Web projects for more than 15 years. He has a computer science degree and a MBA specialized in e-commerce from Laval University in Quebec City. That also explains why his writing can sound weird: He is a French Canadian!

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Category: Key Performance Indicators (KPI), KPIs vs Metrics Comment »


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