Time on site refers to the length of time that a visitor spends on your website. It can be calculated for a website as a whole which would include the time the visitor came to your site and the time they left regardless of how many pages they viewed (unless they bounced at which point TOS cannot be calculated). It can also be calculated on a page level.
Bounce rate is the percentage of visitors that viewed only one page on a website and then left the site entirely. For example if a visitor comes to your home page, spends a few minutes reading your content on your home page and then leaves without clicking down into any other parts of your site, that user would count as one that bounced.
Bounce rate and time on site can impact one another because visitors that bounce are not used to calculate time on site. In Google Analytics, time on site is calculated by measuring the time between when a user visits a page and when they go to another page on the same site. Improving bounce rate and TOS can help increase conversions1 and ranking in search results pages.
These metrics can be seen in Google Analytics as well as many other analytics platforms.
Like many other metrics surrounding a website, it can be tricky to know what a bad bounce rate and time on site are. Lawyers must be careful to put any data into context before drawing conclusions. For example on the surface, a high bounce rate is bad however if you only have one page on your site, all visitors will be bounces.
Bounce rate and time on site can also be calculated for particular scenarios. For instance lawyers can see the overall bounce rate and time on site for a website but they can also look at it for specific referral or campaign sources. The time on site for referrals from Google organic search for example may be higher than time on site for referrals coming from an advertising campaign.
Conversely a high time on site or time on page can look like you are succeeding unless users are having a hard time finding what they are looking for. In general bounce rates on sites with multiple pages should be in the 20-30% range. Overall time on site can vary based on the makeup of content however if overall time on site is below 30 seconds (or any given page is below 30 seconds), those may be areas where lawyers can improve.
Often one metric can only give lawyers a very narrow view of what is actually happening on a web page. It helps to combine metrics to learn more about what visitors are doing. Bounce rate and time on site work well with each other in telling a story of what’s happening on a web page.
For example a page on an attorney’s website could have a very low time on page measurement. At first that may look very concerning however keep in mind that time on page is calculated by measuring the time it takes for a person to enter the page and then navigate to another page on the same website. If the bounce rate for the same page is low, that means that users are finding what they are looking for quickly and moving on through your site.
On the other hand if the time on site is low and the bounce rate is high, that could mean that some users are able to find what they are looking for but the majority of them cannot and leave the site for good.
As we’ve explained before, all factors should be carefully considered when reviewing one’s data. That being said, here are some standards that attorneys can use for guidance.