This article targets essential questions about “dwell time” and its relevance in SEO. So, stay tuned.
When it comes to SEO, there are a lot of factors that come into the picture. Dwell time calculation is one of them.
To understand dwell time, let’s first look at some relevant terms associated with it.
- SEO: Short for Search engine optimization. SEO is the process that ranks your website higher in search engines.
- SERP: Short for Search engine results page. SERP is a page that shows result entries related to the user’s search query.
- Pogo-sticking: The two steps that define pogo-sticking are:
- The user clicks on a result entry from the SERP.
- The user immediately exits the result page and comes back to the SERP.
This happens when the user doesn’t find what he’s looking for on the destination page.
Now that the basics are clear, let’s talk about the main question.
What is dwell time?
Average dwell time is the time between clicking a result entry and going back to its SERP. In other words, it is the time between the two steps of pogo-sticking.
Let’s say user ‘A’ searches for “Best SEO practices” in his search engine. Then, he clicks on the first result entry on the SERP. The destination page is an article that talks about SEO. ‘A’ spends five seconds analyzing the article and finds it hard to understand. Hence, he goes back to the SERP.
In this case, the dwell time for ‘A’ is five seconds.
FAQs about dwell time
When it comes to dwell time, people generally confuse it with other terms. Here are some common questions asked:
Is dwell time the same as bounce rate?
No. The bounce rate is the percentage of visitors who check your page and exit without checking other pages of your website.
Is dwell time the same as time-on-page?
No. Time-on-page is the amount of time a user spends on a single page.
Is dwell time the same as session duration?
No. Session duration is the total time the user is active on your website. This includes clicking on a video on your site, navigating through your site pages, and more.
The role of dwell time in SEO
If the user finds your page attractive, they will scroll through it for a longer time, read the content, or, better, engage with it. They might even read your content from start to end before they go back to the SERP.
A higher dwell time indicates to the search engine that your content is worth it. That said, it has better chances of generating backlinks. It also suggests that your page satisfies the user’s search intent. Thus, your page favors SEO.
That said, certain factors negatively impact dwell time calculation. They are:
- Too many ads: They are annoying and disrupt the user’s focus.
- Misleading content: This includes out-of-context information, wrong facts, figures, etc. Such content hampers the user’s trust in your website.
- Unstructured content: An example of this is longer paragraphs that are boring to read. In that case, the user might exit your page without reading your content.
- Poor quality content: This includes content that is unreadable, has grammatical errors and has plagiarism.
- Higher page loading time: Too many visuals and ads can increase the time to load your page. The user is more likely to exit your page instead of sticking around.
According to Google, 53% of mobile users exit a page if its load time is more than three seconds.
How to calculate dwell time?
An easy and efficient tool for dwell time calculation is Google Analytics.
- Register your website to Google Analytics via the measurement Id or the tracking Id.
- Then, check the average session duration. This metric determines the average dwell time.
This is excellent data when it comes to understanding your site’s performance and improving the dwell time.
What is a good dwell time for SEO?
An average dwell time higher than two minutes is good. Anything less than two minutes indicates that you did not answer the user’s search query. That said, Google did not officially mention any relation between the dwell time and the search engine rankings.
How to improve dwell time?
Improving dwell time is equal to improving your page’s content. To do so, put in place the following strategies:
Writing long-form content
If you are writing an article, make sure you use structure and formatting and include at least 1000 words.
For example, consider two value-packed articles of 500 and 1000 words each. Then, an article of 500 words might have a less dwell time than an article of 1000 words.
Adding relevant videos
An intelligent hack to keep your users longer on your page is by embedding a relevant video. In fact, you can give users choices to watch the video or continue reading the article for the same value.
Using the PPT method
Short for Preview-Proof-Transition, this method builds trust among the user and ensures that they will get what they need. Implement the PPT method using the following steps:
- First, give the user a preview of your content.
- Second, back it with proof using numbers, claims, social assurances, etc.
- Third, using the transition, walk your reader through different sections of your content.
Creating engaging content
Engaging content is beyond long blocks of text. There are lists and bullet points. Headings and subheadings. Infographics. Good quality compressed images in JPEG and PNG format. And not just the structure but the text itself keeps the readers hooked.
Addressing the search intent
An effective way to do so would be to write content that matches the title. Say your title reads ‘The top 5 SEO tools,’ and the content talks about the basics of SEO and why it is essential. As seen, the title and the content are misaligned. Thus, the user’s perception when they click on your pages is unsatisfactory.
That said, writing content that addresses the search intent is an essential metric for on-page SEO optimization.
Replying to user comments
If there’s anything else the reader is interested in, it’s the comments. Comments are real proofs of how useful your content has proved to other readers and if they have generated any results. It sorts of builds credibility. People love reading comments. This adds to the page’s dwell time.
Other steps to improve average dwell time are:
- optimizing your site for mobile,
- making your content readable,
- removing fluff and fillers,
- linking to authority sources,
- avoiding clickbait links and more.
That said, you might not have the confidence or time to work on your website’s SEO. An SEO agency can help you here. They provide users with the complete package that targets metrics to rank your website in SERP.
The bottom line
In the end, it all boils down to one thing: providing value to the user. So, use the above strategies to meet this goal and improve your page’s average dwell time.