If you’ve recently made the switch from Universal Analytics (UA) to GA4, you may have noticed some new metrics included, particularly all things engagement. Average engagement time, engaged sessions, and engagement rate are great new measures of success.
Here’s how to define them and why they’re important to SEO and user experience.
Average Engagement Time
Average engagement time measures the “The average length of time that the app was in the foreground, or the web site had focus in the browser.” In other words, this measures the length of time that your web page was in focus on a user’s screen. This can help you understand when users actively use your website vs. just have the page open in a tab but not displayed.
Average engagement time has replaced the old Average Session Duration from UA. That measured the duration of a user’s entire visit.
What Is A Good Average Engagement Time?
A good Average Engagement Time is 49 seconds, according to data from our own clients. We found average engagement times per user between 0:20–1:33, for an average of 49 seconds.
Since we’ve not found any other data about this metric yet, we’ll conclude that 49 seconds is an average Average Engagement Time on a website.
Updated based on July–September 2023 data from 16 websites (excludes e-commerce websites).
Average Engagement Time Per User vs. Average Engagement Time Per Session
In the Engagement overview dashboard in GA4, we’re seeing both Average Engagement Time (Per User) and Average Engagement Time Per Session shown.
Average Engagement Time is described as “per active user for the time period selected”. It could be titled Average Engagement Time Per User to be more accurate. This is the default shown in most reports, however you can opt to display Average Engagement Time Per Session as well.
An engaged session is a session where the user did any one of the following:
- Stayed on the page for 10 seconds or longer
- Viewed more than 1 page
- Triggered a conversion event
Engaged Sessions Benchmarks
It’s difficult to state an “average” amount of Engaged Sessions. Factors such as your website’s total traffic volume and your industry will play a key role. However, there are some benchmarks you can draw comparisons from.
The Databox team reached out to us to share some data from their Benchmark Groups, which is a great feature they have to do exactly this type of research. My favorite Group is their Google Analytics 4 (GA4) for All Companies Benchmark Group.
Here’s what their data shows:
- All companies: 1.91K Engaged Sessions
- B2B: 1.91K Engaged Sessions
- B2C: 2.643K Engaged Sessions
- Marketing Agencies: 905 Engaged Sessions
- Manufacturing Industry: 2.6k Engaged Sessions
- Healthcare: 2.17k Engaged Sessions
- Construction Companies: 1.16k Engaged Sessions
- Food Industry: 2.44k Engaged Sessions
- Automotive Industry: 5.52k Engaged Sessions
- Apparel & Footwear: 16.27k Engaged Sessions
This data is from June 2023.
They have more than 50 industries you can reference, with many other metrics as well. Simply create an account (which is free!), connect your or your client’s GA, and you can see how you compare to other companies.
Engagement rate is the percentage of sessions that were engaged sessions.
It essentially replaces bounce rate in GA4. You can still find bounce rate in GA4 by customizing your report view. Bounce rate is no longer listed by default.
More than just the inverse of a bounce rate, engagement rate gives a more holistic picture of user activity on your website.
A user who stayed on your page for minutes, downloaded something, and read the whole page would be considered a bounce. But based on that user’s actions, they were actually highly engaged. That’s why many are doing away with leaning on bounce rate to understand user interest, including Google.
What Is A Good Engagement Rate?
Databox’s Benchmark Groups show 56.36% as an average Engagement Rate.
Here’s what their data shows across various groups:
- All companies: 56.36% Engagement Rate
- B2B: 56.36% Engagement Rate
- B2C: 57.85% Engagement Rate
- Marketing Agencies: 54.09% Engagement Rate
- Manufacturing Industry: 58.2% Engagement Rate
- Healthcare: 59.23% Engagement Rate
- Construction Companies: 56.9% Engagement Rate
- Food Industry: 54.8% Engagement Rate
- Automotive Industry: 61.94% Engagement Rate
- Apparel & Footwear: 61.58% Engagement Rate
This data is from June 2023.
Beside’s Databox, we have a few other published datasets to compare to.
Orbit Media also provided the average engagement rate of their client sample of 65 websites. They stated the average GA4 engagement rate was 55%.
Looking at our own sampling of data, we found engagement rates between 36%-56% (with one outlier at an impressive 91%!), for an average of 53%.
Of course, engagement rates vary widely by traffic source. Expect a lower average engagement rate if much of your traffic is driven by paid ads.
Engagement Is Key For SEO
Level of engagement is a key factor in Google’s search algorithm. Every year since 2016, Google has increased the weight of engagement. They reward the pages that users get most value from with higher rankings. That’s why it’s important to keep an eye on these metrics and work on improving any low-engagement pages.