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Why “Dwell Time” Matters to SEO, and How You Can Improve Yours!

In this article you will learn about what dwell time is, how it relates to SEO, the value of dwell time and finally how to measure and improve dwell time on your website page.

Search engine optimization, or SEO, is nothing new to digital marketers. By making both on-page and technical improvements to your site you can rank higher, reach more potential customers and ultimately, be more successful. SEO is a long game, meaning you can’t expect to see immediate impact like you can with targeted ads, but it’s a long game well worth playing. 

Depending on who you ask, different SEO metrics come out on top as “most important” to a digital marketing strategy. Some argue that organic traffic is key, while others say keyword rankings matter most. No matter where you fall on the SEO scale, what happens after people click to your site is undeniably important. If users don’t stay on your site and engage with it, you’ve ultimately lost. One such metric of measuring this success is “dwell time.” 

Rendering of a SERP - Improve Dwell Time
Picture this: a SERP

What Is Dwell Time? 

According to Search Engine Journal, “Dwell time is the length of time a person spends looking at a webpage after they’ve clicked a link on a SERP page, but before clicking back to the SERP results.” (SERP, by the way, stands for Search Engine Results Page–what shows up after a user searches for something on Google or Bing). 

Basically, dwell time is how long a user dwells on your site, scanning your headings, reading your content, browsing your images or products, and completing any desired actions you have for them (like signing up for your email list, requesting a free estimate or making a purchase). 

Getting people to find your website when they search for products or services is only half the battle; once you’re found, you want people to stay with you! 

We can probably all relate to the quest for an answer online. Often, we’ll click to a site from the top of the SERP, but if that site doesn’t load quickly, isn’t well designed or, most egregiously, doesn’t answer our question, we’ll quickly click back to the SERP and choose another option. Click through rate can tell you how many people visited your site, yes, but it doesn’t account for how many actually stayed long enough to use your information. That’s where dwell time comes in.

How Do I Measure and Improve Dwell Time?

Unfortunately, only search engines have access to actual results. There are some metrics you can pay attention to, however, to get a better idea of your users’ behavior and your pages’ performance. Three such metrics are average time on page, session duration and bounce rate (which can all be found through Google Analytics). 

Increasing dwell time on your site is definitely attainable, and that should be a high-priority goal for any SEO work you complete. Start by gauging where your current stats are for time on page and bounce rate. A good average time on page is 2 to 3 minutes, so you can set a specific goal to reach based on where you are now. Similarly, if you can identify specific pages with high bounce rates — meaning people quickly click back after landing on them — you can make a focused plan to improve the content and user experience on said pages. 

Other ways you can work to improve dwell time include 

  • Beginning each page with an attention-grabbing introduction 
  • Chunking your content with shorter sentences, headings and subheadings and lists 
  • Adding visuals
  • Making sure your content answers a question and answers it well
  • Improving your page load speed if necessary 
  • Ensuring your website is optimized for mobile 
  • Using internal links that keep people on your site

Improve Dwell Time For Your Overall SEO Strategy

So again, no matter where you fall on the SEO scale of importance, keeping users on your site while providing an informational and enjoyable experience should be priority #1. Agencies like Duneland Media can provide more customized SEO strategies for your business, so contact us at info@dunelandmedia.com with your SEO questions and business goals and we can work on increasing your site’s dwell time today!