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Business Consulting For The 21st Century Via A Holistic & Intelligent Approach

Data without context can be deceiving

Consumed => “Google Analytics reports too high Time on Site. And on other Tabs it contradicts that. How is this possible?” on Quora.

=> My answer…

Hey Andreas Klinger, thanks for asking.

I hope you don’t mind if I just work quickly off the top of my head. Some of these might be a bit off topic but they might be helpful none the less.

1) Have you excluded internal traffic? How staff uses the site might be different from normal visitors.

2) Since single page visits have a time on site of zero, that could lead to day-to-day flux. (More on this below.)

3) If off-site links open in a new tab and people tend to leave your tab open after leaving then that’s going to skew your data too. That is, they will still show as being on your site. Maybe there’s a particular page(s) or link(s) contributing to this effect?

4) Is it not possible that time of day impacts engagement of visitors, or at least the volume there of? In other words, a handful of long visit during times of low traffic are going to have a much different impact than the same number of long visits pooled into a much larger universe. The report is averages in silos, not ratios across all silos, and therefore can be deceiving, yes?

5) Have you tweaked the reports by any other parameters? For example, Source, Keywords, etc.? Is there something hidden that’ll help you either pin point this or get a deeper answer from the TOS metric?

6) And finally, I pull this from “Web Analytics – An Hour a Day” by Avinash Kaushik. Chapter 6, page 139:

“What is critical for you to understand in the context of Average Time on Site metric is that you don’t have data for the last page of the visit. In addition, if the visitor sees only one page during the visit, you have no awareness of what Time On the Site for their visit is. You should be aware of this and accommodate for it because it can have a large effect on your computation of this critical metric.”

Both this book and his blog ( are highly recommended. I’m surprised he’s not on Quora. Yet? :)

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