Why does GA show 0 seconds Visit duration?

Symbol for 0 sec GA postThis situation is annoying to many of us. We are supposed to use analytics to make decisions.

But sometimes when you dig and try to eek out an extra bit of value from each page, impression and visitor when you get confusing answers it can tie you up in a knot.

If you see 0:00 average visit duration with a bounce rate of 100 % it can be very disheartening.

If I explain how GA code actually works this should make sense to you. It took me a while to figure this out, and now it is said, I think it is quite obvious!

Scenario 1 – a regular situation

  • Someone visits your site and lands on page X at 09:00 hours. Google will save this time stamp of 09:00 hours.
  • That visitor then clicks on a link and goes to page Y at 09:01 hours. Google will save the second time stamp when it loads page B. And let us assume that visitor then leaves your website after viewing page Y. Now duration of visit = 09:01 minus 09:01 = 1 minute.

Scenario 2 – a 0 second ‘false’ report

  • So, if someone stays and reads, scrolls, opens a different tab etc, around on page X for any amount of time, 1 sec to a full hour, but does not click on any link and leaves your page from page X, which will then also shows a 100% bounce rate quite rightly.
    • N.b If the user has come on in, got the right answer, and had a good experience a 100% bounce isn’t strictly a bad thing !
  • In this case, GA has no information about when the user left your website and instead of showing N/A it shows average visit duration 0:00. Which is not helpful. It would be clearer if they had – “we don’t know”

So, 0 seconds is just a “don’t know” as they came in and exited from this single page with no second time reference.

 

 

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