Google Analytics: Bounce Rate, Visit duration, Transactions – intriguing results

I made some segments for an e-commerce web site these days. I tried to compute the number of visitors which stayed less than 1 sec on that site.

I was surprised: 30% were visits with less than 1 second visit duration, and this no of visit represent 99.55% of the bounce rate from this referrer. The nice thing was that we had 3505 visit with visit duration greater than or equal to 1 sec and less than 5 seconds, and 3087 visit with time on site between 5 and 8 seconds (during the same time interval).

From a lot of web analysts experts I know that is quite hard (to almost impossible) to compute the time on site when the users make only 1 access to that site. To make the correct time computation it needs at least 2 access, and even then, the time on the last page cannot be computed right.

I know also that the current Bounce Rate definition is on a process to change, a lot of web 2.0 sites uses 1 page to show the content (like my blog, for ex.). The fact that a user come and see only 1 page isn’t anymore a bounce, because he/she can read all the articles w/o change the URL. The new definition I found was somewhat related to the time on site, which should be less than 13 seconds to be considered a bounce.

I wonder if GA (Google Analytics) has started to implement this kind of measurement, because the segment of people staying on that site 1-5 secs, or 5-8 secs were not considered bouncing. The only segment that was 99.55% bounce was the segment with less than 1 sec visit duration…

After this little experiment on my data I made another one.  With this segments (less 1 sec, 1-5 secs, 5-8 secs – with respect to visit duration) I entered the e-commerce report. Wow.. I saw 10 transactions on the segment "less than 1 sec" and 2 transactions on the segment "1-5 secs".

And my doubts on this parameter, visit duration, or average time on site if you wish, were rising again.. How GA can compute and measure accurately the visits from 1-5 secs, or 5-8 secs, or even less than 1 sec? I know that some new web analytics software which are making some "push" from time to time to user can estimate real time visitors on site (woopra is one of these). Does Google makes some real time visitors computations, or it’s preparing to do that in the near future? And for God’s sake, how the users manage to do a transaction in less than 1 sec?

Anyway GA is coherent in all the reports regarding those segments, it reports on all the places the same values. But do I have to trust those values?? GA even computes the average time on site for those segments, which were quite nice, were believable.. (4 secs for 1-5 secs segment, and 7 secs for 5-8 secs segment)

I would appreciate any thoughts from you guys. Thanks.

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