Google wants us to pay attention to our user engagement metrics. With the release of Google Analytics 4, they removed bounce rate and added a new Engagement section in the navigation. They’re hoping users will think more about who’s sticking around on their websites, instead of who’s not.
What does this mean for you and your analytics? How can you find these new metrics, and what do these metrics to measure user engagement mean?
In this article, we’ll go over:
- What are user engagement metrics?
- Where can you find user engagement metrics?
- How can you use user engagement metrics to improve your website?
Let’s get started.
What Are User Engagement Metrics?
User engagement metrics are metrics (usually found via Google Analytics) that show how engaged with your website your users are. In general, you want your users to be very engaged with your content by clicking through to more pages, completing a conversion, or spending time thoroughly reading an article.
The top 5 user engagement metrics are:
1. Overall Average Engagement Time
The Average Engagement Time for your site shows you how long, on average, users are spending on your site. In Google Analytics 4, you can find this metric under Engagement » Overview.
If you’re using Universal Analytics, this metric is called “Average Session Duration” and can be found under Audience » Overview.
This metric is definitely a number to keep an eye on. You want to keep visitors engaged on your site for as long as you can, or until they convert.
How to Improve Overall Average Engagement Time:
- Make your content engaging, unique, and easily scannable
- Have a very clear call to action on every page of your website
- Use internal, contextual links in your text to other relevant pages on your website
- Dial in search intent for every piece of content you publish
- Try A/B testing different elements on your website to see what gets more interaction, or keeps people around longer
- Use a popular posts widget to draw your readers deeper into your site
2. Average Engagement Time per Page
This metric is exactly like your overall average engagement time, except it’s per page. Overall engagement time is the session length, whereas engagement time per page is how much time is spent on each page.
To find this metric in GA4, navigate to Engagement » Pages and screens, then scroll to the table. Depending on the size of your screen, you might have to scroll the table to the right a little bit to find the Average engagement time column.
In Universal Analytics, this metric is called Average time on page and can be found by navigating to Behavior » Site Content » All Pages.
Are there any times here that surprise you? Do you have some pages that you think should be getting longer visits?
Remember that if you have a strong call to action, it’s possible that people aren’t staying on the page long because they’re moving on to your conversion page. Or, maybe it’s a page that makes sense to have shorter visits on.
For instance, say your site is a blog, and the average time on page for your home page is low. That’s actually fine, because it means visitors are most likely clicking into content they’re interested in reading.
If you do want to keep users around longer on a certain page, refer back to the tips on how to improve overall average engagement time. Those same tips work here!
3. New vs. Returning Users
The number of visitors who are returning to your site after having visited once before is often called “retention.” You want to retain the users who visit your site once, whether they make a purchase or complete another conversion or not.
To find the new vs. returning users stat in Google Analytics 4, navigate to Retention. There, you’ll see how many new users and how many returning users you had in the time period you have selected.
If you’re wondering about the rest of the metrics in the Retention section in GA4, check out all the descriptions.
In Universal Analytics, you can find this metric in a pie chart under Audience » Overview.
Increasing your returning visitor rate is always a good thing to work on. Take advantage of all those new visitors by getting them to come back!
How to Improve Retention
The best way to improve your visitor retention rate is by including more ways to capture visitor information on your website. Then, you can email them relevant content that they’ll want to click on to return.
Some awesome tools for this are:
- OptinMonster for capturing email addresses and other visitor information
- PushEngage for sending push notifications
- Constant Contact for sending email newsletters
Another good way to improve retention is by giving your visitors more ways to stay connected to you, if they don’t want to provide an email address. How do you do this? With social media! Use a social feed plugin like Smash Balloon to bring your social media feeds onto your website, making it super easy for your visitors to see your profiles and follow you.
Conversions are one of your most important metrics of all, and definitely great for analyzing engagement. Conversions are your end goal, so measuring how many users are converting is huge.
Setting up conversions, though, can be challenging. Plus, it’s an entirely different process if you’re using Universal Analytics vs. Google Analytics 4. We’ll give you a really quick overview, but if you don’t know how to set up conversions, you’ll definitely want to click our links below to learn more about that.
In Universal Analytics, you create conversions by setting up goals. A lot of different actions on your website can count as a goal, such as viewing a certain number of pages, filling out a contact form, making a purchase, clicking a certain button, or staying on the site for a certain amount of time.
To learn more about setting up goals in Universal Analytics, read How to Create a Goal in Google Analytics to Track Conversions.
To find conversion data in Universal Analytics, navigate to Conversions » Goals » Overview. Here, you’ll see how many users completed your goals, what your conversion rate is, and more.
In GA4 (Google Analytics 4), goals no longer exist. Instead, you use events to track your conversions. Event tracking was also an option in Universal Analytics, but in GA4, it’s the only option.
To learn about events and counting certain events as conversions, read the Google Analytics help guide on setting up and managing conversion events.
OR, WordPress users can install the MonsterInsights plugin to track several events automatically, such as form conversions, scroll depth tracking, and outbound link clicks without having to touch Google Analytics event tracking.
To find conversion metrics in GA4, navigate to Engagement » Conversions.
5. User Stickiness
This metric can get a little confusing to understand, but it’s a good one to keep an eye on. It’s similar to new vs. returning users, but dives down a little deeper than that. Please note, if you have a website where it’s more important that users convert instead of visit again, this metric isn’t as helpful.
This report is only available in GA4.
Here are the three acronyms you need to know:
- Daily Active Users (DAU): the number of active users in the last 24 hours
- Weekly Active Users (WAU): the number of active users in the last 7 days
- Monthly Active Users (MAU): the number of active users in the last 30 days
In Google Analytics 4, find the report by navigating to Engagement » Engagement Overview. Then, scroll down to the User stickiness graph.
Now, at first glance, these graphed lines are super confusing. What do these actually mean?
These are percentages that show you how “sticky” your users are, or how often they return. The higher these percentages, the more often your users are returning to your site.
The bottom line is Weekly Active Users divided by Monthly Active Users, so this shows how many of your monthly visitors also visit weekly. The top line, then, shows how many of your Monthly Active Users are visiting daily.
So, if you have 50 Daily Active Users and 100 Monthly Active Users, that means half of your users visited your site daily.
Bonus: WordPress Engagement Measurement Tool
If you use WordPress, we have great news. MonsterInsights can connect BOTH GA4 and Universal Analytics to your website, and help you follow your website’s engagement metrics right in your WordPress dashboard.
How cool is that?
MonsterInsights is the best Google Analytics plugin for WordPress. It allows you to easily connect your WordPress site with Google Analytics (both Universal Analytics and GA4), so you can view all the data that matters most right in your WordPress dashboard.
Plus, with the click of a button, you can set up sophisticated tracking features such as event tracking, eCommerce tracking, form tracking, custom dimension tracking, outbound link tracking, and more.
For more about all the reports you’ll get with MonsterInsights, check out Your Ultimate Guide to MonsterInsights Dashboard Reports.
We hope you gathered some great ideas for which metrics to measure user engagement you should use. Looking for more important Google Analytics metrics? Read What Can You Measure with Google Analytics? Top 11 Metrics.
And don’t forget to follow us on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube for more helpful Google Analytics tips.
what was the year that these statistics were recorded?
Hi Daniel – This article (along with the screenshotted stats) was written in October of 2021.