I understand that Google uses 'Average Visit Duration' as one factor influencing ranking - but how does it determine how long a user has stayed on a certain page for? Is it as simple as registering when they left Google, then registering when clicked back? I can't think of any efficient way of measuring this.

  • Do you have an official note on that? I would very much doubt it factors in ranking, as it's impossible for them to measure that unless the site has Google tracking code, which is not universal at all. I would bet this is another of the abundant SEO myths.
    – Rodolfo
    Jan 24, 2014 at 22:52
  • It could well be. It's just something I've been told by a number of sources. (I'm talking actual SEO blogs as well.) It corresponds to what I've noticed with my website too.
    – Zetland
    Jan 24, 2014 at 22:58
  • Google ranks high quality sites better. People tend to stay longer on high quality sites. So there will be a correlation (as in your accounts), that does not necessarily imply a causal connection. However Google collects quite a lot of data via the GDN (Google Delivery Network, i.e. Adsense etc), so they have a solid basis to extrapolate anything they cannot measure directly. Jan 28, 2014 at 13:20

4 Answers 4


From the article: Understanding Google Analytics Time Calculations

How Time on Page is Calculated

Time on Page is calculated in two different ways. The calculation depends if the visit has one pageview OR if the visit has multiple pageviews.

When There are Multiple Pageviews in a Visit

This is pretty easy to understand.

If there are multiple pageviews during a visit then the time calculation is based on the >start time between the current page and the start time of the next page hit.

When There is Only One Pageview in the Visit

Most people believe that Google Analytics can not, and does not, calculate time on page when there is only one page viewed in a visit. This is partially correct.

If no other page is viewed during the visit, Google Analytics use the time between the initial page hit and the last engagement hit that follows the page hit.

I suggest that you go take a look a the Article it is very informative on how google calculte time(generaly) in thier Analytics services

  • So Google determines visit time the same way that Analytics does? What about websites that don't have analytics installed?
    – Zetland
    Jan 24, 2014 at 22:17
  • I don't know or find any references that says that google have another way to do calculation of the time a user has stayed on a page. To determine how long a stayed they need a token or something that the site developpers put in place to contact google services to notify that user X is loading the page Y right now. What they can do (and probably do) is gather data from the Chrome user's navigation habits and extrapolate from this. Jan 24, 2014 at 23:20

Once I did my own data analytics to fit a customer needs. Then, I face your question: how to determine how long the user stayed on a site. Better, how to determine when the user leaves your site.

From the experience I had on this project, I believe google just do an estimative when the user leaves the last viewed page. Although you can use js events like onbeforeunload, onunload, they are no reliable and, sometimes, even dangerous. We know Google does not use them, since we see not network activity when we leave any page.

Now, to estimate the time a user stayed in a site is easy. For example, if a user has entered in a site and has viewed 3 pages. Is very easier to know when the user has started viewing the page. You may know if he left a previous page after the last interaction or when he opened a new page. But it's very difficult to determine when he leaves the last page. But, doing a estimative is simple. If he stayed 30 seconds on the first two pages, probably he stayed around 30 seconds on the last page as well. Total: 1:30.


If the Google searcher goes back to SERP and clicks a result of out it then Google can know how much time was spent in the site visited in the last click. It can average from 100's of visitors reaching that web page through SERP.

If visitors find solution in a click and don't search the same keywords back again in Google then Google can assume that satisfactory solution was found in the site reached from SERP. This should be the prime factor in site rankings.

  • This is what I understand to be the case. However, does Google measure this at the point of executing the search again, or on clicking another result? I ask this because it is possible for someone to Ctrl+Click on a result to open it in a new tab. I do this myself - Ctrl+Click on one result, and then a second or two later, Ctrl+Click another result. Does Google consider this, and penalize the first website for 'only engaging me for 2 seconds'?
    – Garrulinae
    Jul 8, 2014 at 5:21

Chrome is the answer! They develop browser for better web analysis.

  • Can you cite any source for this?
    – John Conde
    Dec 15, 2014 at 1:26
  • Actually, Google, the search engine, does not take any metrics from any other source including Chrome or their toolbar.
    – closetnoc
    Dec 15, 2014 at 1:32

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.