So here’s what how we treat this traffic…
#1 Don’t panic
As we’ve highlighted above, it’s not a reliable metric. As Google Analytics doesn’t provide genuine session durations. The average session duration metric for a given period actually includes all of these 0:00:00 sessions! This is why this metric shouldn’t be used as an aggregate KPI. As mentioned in the previous post, conversions & conversion rate beat session duration.
#2 Analyse in context & drill down
Look at landing pages by source (add a secondary dimension) – and analyse bounce & conversion rates next to those low session duration sources to truly get a feel for low performing sources.
If you spot a low performing source of traffic, with low session duration, high bounce and low conversion, then drill down further. Combine the source & landing page in a segment, and then analyse session durations, bounce & conversion by other dimensions. E.g. device category (desktop, mobile, tablet). E.g. by user type (new, returning). You might discover that new mobile users landing on a specific page are more likely to have lower session durations, and higher bounce, and lower conversions.
#3 Tag interactions on the page
A landing page with lots of 0:00:00 sessions might have a video embedded on it.
The video might not be tracked/tagged for Google Analytics. I.e. might not be sending hit data when it is played. Which means that if a user lands on the page, and watches the video, but then leaves without doing anything else… then Google Analytics will record a bounce, and a session duration of 0:00:00. If that video is tagged, and sends an interactive event to Google Analytics when it is played, then you’ll get a more genuine session duration, and bounce rate, for those video-playing users in Google Analytics.
The same applies to an outbound link on the landing page. If the purpose of the www.example.com/landing-page is to get users to click on a CTA which takes them to a www.different-site.com to signup, then that outbound link should be tagged, to send an interactive event to GA. If not, you’ll never know if the page is doing its job properly.