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Everything You Need to Know About Dwell Time

  • Grace Lau
  • 6 min read
Everything You Need to Know About Dwell Time


If you’re running a website online, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is probably a top priority. In essence, it’s the key to online success. You might have built a fantastic website to represent your business. Perhaps you’ve built an engaging UI or used a free logo maker to build your brand image. But this doesn’t mean very much if no one is visiting your site.

Just because SEO is important, however, doesn’t make it easy. Many businesses spend long hours trying to boost their position on the search engine results page (SERP). This often involves extensive link-building and keyword research.

Have you found yourself putting effort into SEO and not getting the results you need? Well, there’s one underlying factor that you might not have been paying enough attention to - dwell time. You might not have realized it, but dwell time can have a big impact on your SEO.

But first things first, what exactly is dwell time?

What is Dwell Time?

Right now you’re on a website reading an article. When you’re finished reading, you might go on to view some other blog posts. The amount of time you spend on this webpage is classed as your dwell time. If you’re serious about SEO, you need to avoid short dwell times.

Search engines like Google use dwell time as a key metric. If people aren’t staying long on a webpage, it probably doesn’t meet their search intent. In other words, websites with low dwell time will find themselves lower on the SERP ranking.

But of course, dwell time isn’t just important for SEO. If you’re running a commercial website, you want your users to stick around. Users need to be staying on your website and driving key conversions. You won’t get very far if people aren’t purchasing products or signing up for your mailing list.

In short, some customers spend long hours on factors such as avoiding a longer lead time. Increasing dwell time should be given the same focus.

Are You Using Analytics?

Are You Using Analytics? (Free to use image from Unsplash)

The first step to monitoring your dwell time is having the right analytics software. There’s a good chance that you’re already using analytics in some form. If not, now’s a good time to reconsider. Analytics is essential for understanding how people use your website. Google Analytics is a useful free option that can tell you everything you need.

Calculating Dwell Time

To calculate dwell time you need to look at the average session for users on your website. A session is the period of time that someone spends on a website. The average session is calculated by dividing the total duration of sessions by the total number of sessions. Sessions that last less than two minutes are generally considered poor dwell times.

If you want to make your life easier, head to your analytics tool. Google Analytics provides the average session and the average time on page. Both of these measurements are useful when investigating how people use your site.

Important: While they provide similar pieces of information, dwell time and average session aren’t the same. The average session comprises all visitors to a webpage. This includes users who have traveled from one page on your site to another. Dwell time only applies to users who come from the SERP.

Dwell Time vs. Bounce Rate

If you use analytics software, you might be familiar with bounce rate. It is related to dwell time, but it isn’t the same. Bounce rate is the percentage of users that exit your site almost immediately after landing. Dwell time is the amount of time someone spends on your site before they go back to the SERP.

Both metrics provide useful information. A high bounce rate suggests that there is something wrong with your site as a whole. Perhaps it is too slow to load, crashing, or simply appears unappealing to website visitors.

Dwell time on the other hand gives you an insight into your content. If people land on your website but don’t stay long it suggests that your content isn’t that interesting.

The important question for dwell time is the opposite of the bounce rate: how can I increase it?

Increasing Dwell Time

Aim for a Strong Introduction

Aim for a Strong Introduction (Free to use image from Unsplash)

The quality of an introduction can make or break an article. If a reader isn’t held from the start, there’s a good chance that they’ll look elsewhere. Your introduction should clearly outline the insights that will be gained from reading an article. Try to provide a taste of what’s to come and invite readers to continue reading.

It can also be a good idea to include a table of contents with links to different sections in an article. Readers don’t always want to spend time reading through an article, they want information instantly. A table of contents can help them quickly find the information that they need.

Focus on Quality

Quality is the number one factor for influencing users on your webpage. Users aren’t likely to stick around for long if an article isn’t giving them the information they need. Nor are they likely to read an article that is poorly written. It might cost a little more, but always choose a reliable content writer with a proven track record. Spending a little more now will pay dividends later.

Try to consider some of the following factors within your copy:

  • Length - People don’t want to read reams and reams of text. Does an article drone on? If so, you might want to reduce the word count.
  • Clarity - Is your article easy to read? Users want quick and simple answers to their questions. Your article should get to the point.
  • Actionable information - Readers usually look for advice that they can put into action. Are you providing this information?

Last but not least, think about the topics of your content. Are you focusing on subjects that your audience wants to read about? To find out, it might be useful to consult your audience directly. Choosing tools that include a call recording feature can help you to keep records of customer conversations.

Avoid Clutter

Avoid Clutter (Free to use image from Unsplash)

Take some time to consider media elements in your articles. Pictures, videos, and graphics can be an excellent way of engaging a reader. But these need to be relevant and shouldn’t get in the way.

For example, an oversized image can distract and means that a reader has to spend longer scrolling. Slow-loading images can also be troublesome for site speed. Compressing images can help to keep a webpage running quickly.

Similarly, advertising might be an important part of your income. Too many adverts, however, can slow a website down. This can negatively impact a user’s reading experience. Try to keep adverts to a minimum and include them in a non-intrusive way.

Incorporating external links can be an important part of your content. One benefit of using links is that they add credibility to your writing. By incorporating sourced facts and figures into your articles you can reassure your reader that you’ve researched the topic well.

It’s also an important way of building rapport with other organizations in your industry. Linking to websites can build useful networking opportunities later down the line.

Be warned, however, that using too many links can be off-putting to readers and may send them away. Placing links sporadically across your article isn’t likely to ruffle a user’s feathers. But if a reader encounters them constantly, there’s a risk of appearing spammy.

When you do use links, be careful to link to high-quality sources. You won’t win the confidence of readers by linking to poorly written content or slow-running websites. Not only that, but Google penalizes websites with poor link-building practices. Using a backlink checker can help you to ensure top-quality links.

Change Your Focus

Like investing in workforce management for call centers, focusing on SEO is simply common sense for businesses. It might not be everyone’s favorite activity, but optimizing your website is key to gaining visitors.

But SEO tactics evolve. What was relevant 20 years ago is now partially outdated. To keep up to date, you need to alter your tactics. Right now, that means focusing on dwell time.

Are people sticking around on pages on your site? If not, now might be the time to ask ‘why?’. There are many potential reasons. Perhaps your articles simply aren’t that engaging. Or, perhaps your site isn’t functioning as it should be. Maybe your web pages are too cluttered.

Whatever the reason, fixing problems is key. Improving dwell time can bring an SEO boost. Not to mention that if you want conversions, you need people to stick around. While it might involve some effort, the rewards can be endless. So, don’t delay. Make dwell time your SEO focus.

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Grace Lau

Grace Lau

is the Director of Growth Content at Dialpad, an AI-powered cloud communication platform for better and easier team collaboration. She has over 10 years of experience in content writing and strategy. Currently, she is responsible for leading branded and editorial content strategies, partnering with SEO and Ops teams to build and nurture content.

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