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what is dwelling time

What Is Dwell Time in SEO?

As a website owner, you need to know all the key content marketing metrics that show whether your search engine optimization services team is doing a great job attracting more visitors. Dwell time is one popular metric that seems to attract plenty of misconceptions.

What is dwell time in SEO? How can you improve it? We’ll cover all the details in this post.

What Is Dwell Time?

Dwell time refers to the time it takes for a searcher to click on a search result through to a website and return to the search engine results pages (SERPs).

Dwell time is an important metric in SEO because it highlights a page’s quality.

An extremely low dwell time suggests that people typically don’t find what they are looking for when they visit your website. It could also indicate that your website’s user experience needs a lot of work.

To understand dwell time, go to Google and enter a search term like “the best place for a vacation in Hawaii.” When the results come back, open the links one after the other.

If you click through to a website that is hard to navigate or one that doesn’t quite understand your search intent, you’ll hit the back button and return to the results page almost instantly. Those three or four seconds you spent eyeballing the website before returning to the results constitute the dwell time.

Dwell Time vs. Time on Page vs. Bounce Rate

Looking at the definition of dwell time, it’s easy to see why some may think it means the same thing as time on page or bounce rate. However, they are all different metrics.

Bounce rate refers to the frequency people visit your website and leave without clicking on anything. It doesn’t matter if they spent two or 20 minutes before leaving. The search engines will record it as a bounce.

Time on page, on the other hand, measures how long users stay on your page before leaving. It sounds like dwell time, but it isn’t.

Dwell time measures how quickly someone leaves a website to continue their search. Time on page measures the amount of time visitors spend on the website regardless of where they are coming from or where they are going.

Do Search Engines Factor Dwell Time Into Page Rankings?

It depends. While this bit on Microsoft’s blog suggests that dwell time is a ranking factor, Google is less straightforward about the topic.

According to Google engineers, the search giant’s algorithms consider dwell time when ranking pages. But John Mueller, Google’s Search Advocate, says time spent on a page isn’t a ranking factor. However, it’s important to remember the distinction we drew between time on page and dwell time.

As with most things Google, we may never get a direct answer. But other third-party researchers have found evidence that dwell time is a viable ranking factor. 

If you have a healthy dwell time, your website is engaging, and you’re most likely creating helpful content. Google rewards such websites with a higher ranking either way.

How Can You Measure Dwell Time?

When people ask, “What is dwell time in SEO?” the logical next step is to figure out how to determine their website’s numbers on that front. However, the reality is that you can’t get exact numbers because Google (and all the rest) don’t publish these data.

However, you can get an estimate by looking at your “average session duration time” metric in Google Analytics. These results are only ballpark because they don’t just cover how much time someone spent on your page before returning to the SERPs.

If the estimates are lower than the industry average of two to four minutes, your average dwell time will likely be much lower. You’ll need to take steps to improve these numbers.

How To Improve Your Dwell Time

The following are some things you can do to increase dwell time:

Improve Your Website Speed

There is a higher chance of the average web user abandoning a page that takes more than two seconds to load. Check your high-ranking pages to ensure they load fast enough. If you can keep the load time below two seconds, even better!

Consider a Design Revamp

Nothing beats the feel and look of a modern, responsive website. If your website looks like it’s from the days when Myspace and Yahoo Messenger were in vogue, the average web user will be less inclined to hang around. Look over your website again to ensure the layout is clean, modern, and user friendly.

Be Careful With Ads

If your website is responsive and loads quickly, visitors will spend more time on it. However, they will likely exit if there are too many intrusive ads. 

Spice Up the Content

Text-based content is great, but we live in a world where visuals sell more than ever. Therefore, a blog post accompanied by a video or an infographic will likely have higher engagement than just large chunks of text.

Satisfy the Search Intent With Scannable Quality Content

When a user clicks through to your website, they want to find the information they are looking for in seconds. That can only happen if your content is well structured and easy to read. Even if you have exactly the information they seek, it needs to be obvious.

Cover the main part of the search intent as close to the top of the page as possible and ensure every segment flows nicely into the next. The user will return to the SERPs if they can’t immediately confirm that the page has what they are looking for within the first five seconds.

Improve Your Website Dwell Time Today 

Knowing the answer to “What is dwell time in SEO?” is one thing; understanding where your website stands in this regard is another.  

Do you want to increase your dwell time? Do you want to avoid wasting time and resources on common SEO myths? Call Peppermonkey Media today at (888) 231-9764 to book a digital marketing consultation.

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