Dwell time is the amount of time visitors spend on your website, before going back to search results. The longer they stay, the better it is for your ranking.
In this guide, we will cover everything about it, including how you can improve it and make visitors stick to your content.
Are you ready? Let’s get started!
What is Dwell Time?
Dwell time is the length of time a user spends visiting your web pages after clicking on your link on the search engine results, before going back again to the SERPs.
How many times have you done it?
It’s basically when you decide if you are going to stay on the website or if you go back searching for a better result.
It’s the moment your search intent is satisfied or it’s such a failure that you hit the back button right away.
Let’s make an example.
You are searching for the “best shoes for running” and you are likely going to click on the first result you see:
But, when you land on the website, the page is slow to load, the design is horrible and the content is not helpful.
So, just after 6 seconds, you click back to the search results.
Those 6 seconds is your dwell time.
With that, you are basically telling Google you are not happy with what you have just visited.
Therefore, you decide to click on the second option listed on the SERP (which is also a rich snippet):
And you land on a website with an easy-to-use interface, a beautiful design, and useful content.
You spend 5 minutes and 23 seconds reading every word of the page you visited.
That sends a signal to Google telling that you really liked the site and you are satisfied with the search result.
If many users do the same and spend a lot of time on that page, Google will likely reward it with a ranking boost:
Why Is Dwell Time Important for SEO?
Learning SEO is not just link building or on-page site optimization.
Among them, dwell time is one of the most important because it’s a signal to search engines that people are finding your content valuable and engaging. If people are quickly leaving your site, it’s a sign that something isn’t quite right.
In fact, did you know that websites that have a longer “time on site” generally rank higher on Google (Backlinko)?
Based on this SEO statistic, the average time on site for pages that appear on top of search results is 2.5 minutes (at the moment, mine is around 2 minutes).
So, what does it mean for you?
You want to make sure that you’re providing valuable content that people will want to read and spend time on. This metric is becoming increasingly important for SEOs because it’s a strong signal that Google uses to determine the quality of web pages (and it’s heavily connected to RankBrain).
A long dwell time indicates that users find your content relevant and useful, while a short one suggests that they didn’t find what they were looking for and quickly returned to the SERP to find a better result.
This is why it’s important to focus on creating quality content that will engage your readers and keep them on your site longer.
If you can increase the average time people spend on your pages, you’re likely to see a corresponding increase in your organic traffic and rankings.
So, what is the official point of view of search engines?
Search engines like Bing stated that they consider dwell time in their algorithm:
Google has never officially stated that dwell time is among the ranking factors.
But, it seems to be taken as a hint in their algorithm.
During a 2017 conference, Nick Frost, head of Google Brain, said:
“Google is now integrating machine learning into [the process of finding out the connection between a query and the best result for that query is]. So then training models on when someone clicks on a page and stays on that page, when they go back, or when they are trying to figure out exactly that relationship.”
With that in mind, there are a few ways to make visitors stick to your pages, which we’ll get into below.
How to Improve Dwell TimeIncreasing dwell time is all about improving the user experience.Click To Tweet
Here is what you can do to increase the chances visitors are going to stay longer on your website:
- Write Clear Content
- Use External Links Sparingly
- Write Longer Content
- Use Internal Linking
- Use Engaging Visuals
- Improve Page Loading Speed
- Keep It Clean
- Create Interest With Comments
- Satisfy Search Intent
Write Clear Content
Your content should be clear, relevant, informative, and valuable. If people can’t find what they’re looking for, they’ll leave.
Make sure your pages are easy to read and digest by using short paragraphs, clear headlines, helpful images, and the bucket brigade technique. Prefer a font that is simple and written in active form.
Use the inverted pyramid style, starting with the most important information first and then going into less important details. This content structure also helps with voice search optimization.
Remember to use a table of contents, to show visitors exactly what you are going to cover on the page.
Avoid duplicate pages and focus on creating original assets that satisfy user intent.
And finally, proofread your content to avoid any spelling or grammar errors that could turn people off.
Use External Links Sparingly
Too many external links will send people away from your site.
Of course, mentioning useful resources of reputable websites in your industry is a must to optimize your content.
Just make sure they open in a new tab so people don’t have to leave your site to view them.
Write Longer Content
One of the best ways to improve dwell time is by writing longer content. In other words, pillar, in-depth articles, based on semantic SEO.
Long-form content has been shown to rank better in search engines and can keep people engaged for longer periods of time.
A study by serpIQ found that the average top-ranking piece of content was over 2000 words:
My link-building strategies post has 7000 words and it’s packed with useful, practical information for users.
When you update your old content, aim to produce longer, informative, and in-depth articles.
Use Internal Linking
Internal links keep people on your site longer. This is a great way to increase dwell time and reduce bounce rate.
When creating content (or updating older articles), remember to place links to other relevant articles or pages on your site.
Use Engaging Visuals
People are more likely to stick around if your content is visually appealing. Use infographics and videos to add visual interest.
Break up your articles using relevant, interesting images. Long blocks of text can be daunting and make people lose interest.
Writing smaller paragraphs and sections will help keep people engaged. And remember to use lists and bullet points to make your content easy to digest.
Improve Page Loading Speed
Page speed is one of the many Google ranking factors.
A slow-loading website will drive people away. Make sure your site loads quickly by optimizing images, using a caching plugin, and reducing the number of plugins you use.
Invest in a robust hosting service, because from experience it is the first and most important point to consider when working on the loading speed of a website.
Keep It Clean
Your website coding should be clean and markup valid. Use the W3C validator service to check how to improve it.
Test your website with multiple browsers, such as Chrome, Safari, Opera, and Firefox.
Keep a clean design and avoid clutter. Eliminate all unnecessary elements and limit the color palette. Avoid too many redirects.
You can also improve dwell time by reducing the number of ads on your site. Too many ads can be intrusive and make it difficult to find the content people are looking for.
Create Interest With Comments
Do you allow comments on your website?
Well, you should.
Comments can help create a community around your brand, make people feel like they’re part of a larger conversation, and can increase the time users will spend on your pages.
Just be sure to moderate the comments to avoid any spam or negative sentiment.
Meaningful comments will give value to the content and help visitors find new insights about what they were looking for:
Satisfy Search Intent
Ultimately, keeping users on your website is all about understanding and satisfying search intent.
Make sure your content is relevant to what people are searching for and that it answers their questions.
If you can do this, you’ll be well on your way to improving dwell time and reducing bounce rate.
By understanding search intent, you can create content that appeals to what people are looking for, which will help improve the time people spend on your site.
Dwell Time VS Bounce Rate
It’s important to understand the difference between dwell time and bounce rate. They may look the same, but they differ slightly.
A bounce is a single-page session on your website, according to Google:
Therefore, bounce rate is the percentage of people who leave your site after visiting just one of your web pages.
As an example, if 100 users visit your page, and 55 of them leave without viewing any other pages, it means you have a 55% bounce rate.
Dwell time, on the other hand, is the amount of time someone spends on your site before coming back to search page results.
A high dwell time is a good sign that people are engaged with your content.
On the other hand, a low dwell time, coupled with a high bounce rate, can be an indication that your content is not relevant to what people are looking for.
In short, dwell time is a good indicator of engagement, while bounce rate can show you whether or not your content is relevant.
To find the bounce rate of your web pages simply sign in to your Google Analytics account and click on Behavior -> Site Content -> All Pages:
How to Measure Dwell Time?
Unfortunately, dwell time is not a metric that you can measure in Google Analytics.
However, there are some workarounds that will give you an idea of how much time people are spending on your site.
One way to do this is to look at the average time spent on a page. This metric will show you how long people are spending on each page of your site, on average.
To find this metric, go to Google Analytics -> Behavior -> Site Content -> All Pages:
Scroll down to the bottom of the page and you’ll see the Average Time on Page metric.
Another way to measure dwell time is to look at the average session duration. This metric will show you how long people are spending on your site, on average.
To find this metric, go to Google Analytics -> Audience -> Overview.
Scroll down to the bottom of the page and you’ll see the Average Session Duration metric:
Both of these metrics will give you an idea of how much time people are spending on your site.
If you see that the average session duration is low, but the average time on the page is high, it could be an indication that people are finding that specific content relevant and engaging.
On the other hand, if you see that both metrics are low, it could be an indication that your content is not relevant to what people are looking for.
To get a more specific measurement, you can set up a new segment, to analyze just the organic traffic.
Simply go to Google Analytics -> Behaviour -> Site Content -> Landing Pages.
Here, click on “New Segment” and select “Organic Traffic“:
And that’s it!
You can now access the average time spent by organic visitors on your website:
By analyzing this metric, you can discover what is working on your website and replicate it.
You can see, for example, the kind of content organic visitors find particularly interesting and build more content like it.
You can also look at those pages with a low average time and apply all the tips mentioned before, to improve them.
What’s a Good Dwell Time?
There is no magic number when it comes to dwell time.
It will vary depending on the type of website you have, the content you’re providing, and the industry you are in.
According to Hubspot, a good rule of thumb is to aim for a dwell time somewhere between 2 and 4 minutes:
This gives people enough time to read and digest your content.
Of course, there will always be exceptions to this rule.
For example, if you have a blog post that is only 500 words long, it’s unrealistic to expect people to spend more than a couple of minutes reading it.
On the other hand, if you have an in-depth article or guide that is several thousand words long, you could realistically expect people to spend 15 minutes or more reading it.
The important thing is to make sure that your dwell time is in line with the type of content you’re providing.
Dwell Time FAQs
Q: Does dwell time affect SEO?
A: Yes, it can. A high dwell time can indicate that your content is relevant and engaging to visitors, which is a user experience signal that search engines take into consideration to rank websites.
Q: What is the best way to improve dwell time?
A: The best way to improve dwell time is by providing quality content and making sure your website is easy to navigate and user-friendly. You can also add internal links to your content, use visual elements such as videos or images, and optimize for mobile devices.
Q: What is an example of dwell time?
A: An example is the average amount of time people spend on a page or the average session duration. You can find these metrics in Google Analytics.
Q: Is a low dwell time bad?
A: Not necessarily. A low dwell time could indicate that people are quickly finding what they need and leaving the page, or it could indicate that your content is not relevant to what people are looking for. If you find that your dwell time is low, try to analyze what factors may be contributing and make changes accordingly.
Q: What is the average dwell time?
A: The average time varies depending on what type of website you have, the content you’re providing, and the industry you are in. As a general rule of thumb, aim for a dwell time somewhere between 2 and 4 minutes.
Before You Go
Dwell time is an important metric to keep an eye on when you are working on your website’s SEO.
But to improve user experience signals, you should also learn more about:
To get a complete picture of how people are interacting with your site, make sure to understand:
I hope these resources were helpful.
Now, it’s over to you.
Are you measuring the time users spend on your site?
Are you working to improve this SEO metric?
Please share your thoughts, and if you have any questions, feel free to comment below.