Google Analytics 101: What is Engagement

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In this post of my Google Analytics 101 series, I look to discuss engagement. What is engagement? Often in Google Analytics you’ll want to find out if a page is being used. Or you’ll be asked to compare traffic channel to see which is providing “high quality” traffic. Both of these analysis use the engagement metrics. To have a more detailed understand on these metrics check out my posts on bounce rates or my post of session duration vs time on page.

The Three Engagement Metrics

The three most used metrics are Bounce Rate, Pages per Session, and Avg Session Duration. The metrics reside in the Acquisition > All Traffic > Source/Medium reports. Together these metrics help create an understand of how users are using your site, and about the quality of the traffic source.

They have the “Behavior” label in Google Analytics. While the metrics have this label, everyone refers to them as engagement metrics.

Bounce Rate – Shows how many people do not immediately leave your site. The bounce rate shows you the percentage of users land on your site and leave. My post on bounce rates go into further detail.

Pages/Session – Looks at how many pages on average a user to the site views before leaving the site.

Avg. Session Duration – The average amount of time all sessions spent on the site. Check out my post for more information.

What Are Good Metrics

So what are good engagement metrics?

For bounce rate, lower is better. Then for Pages/Sessions and Avg. Session Duration higher is better.

When looking at pages bounce rate is going to be more important than Pages/sessions and Avg. Session Duration. Pages/Session and Avg. Session duration are metrics explaing site wide phenomena and not page level interactions. To understand how pages perform the Behavior > Site Content > All Pages reports will have more information.

For analyzing traffic utilize all three metrics. Use bounce rate to determine the initial interest of the traffic brought to the site. For example, if your display traffic has a high bounce rate it could suggest your targeting is off or your landing page isn’t very good. Pages/Session and Avg Session Duration are better for determining quality of traffic. The higher the numbers the more engaged the users.

Generally speaking the lower down the funnel the tactic is the higher the engagement. Paid search is likely to have better engagement than paid native. And organic search will beat them all. Avg Session Duration and Pages/Sessions are particularly helpful for SEO. To learn more about SEO and personal branding I suggest looking at Ed Latimore’s stuff.

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