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Does Dwell Time Really Affect Your SEO? The Answer May Surprise You

Does Dwell Time Really Affect Your SEO? The Answer May Surprise You

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Dwell time is one of those ranking factors which is proven to impact your overall site’s SEO.

It is a user-based metric that refers to the period or length of time that a user spends on a page after a click. It is not the most talked-about metric. But it is an important measurement that every marketer should be paying attention to.

Dwell time is a good indicator that can help in evaluating the quality of your website traffic. However, the results of this metric can be misleading at times.

In this article, we will discover more about dwell time and its relationship with SEO.

What is Dwell Time?

The concept of dwell time was first introduced in 2011 in a Bing article. The blog post written by Duane Forrester indicated how to build quality content. This was the first time that the idea of dwell time was talked about and now it seems that the whole digital marketing community is raving about the concept.

In the blog, dwell time was defined as the actual time duration that a visitor spends on a page before going back to SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages).

Suppose I’m researching “Best digital marketing practices for startups in 2019”, I’ll type this into the search engine box. I’ll likely click on the results that interest me the most. Let’s say it took me 5 minutes to read the article I land on, and after reading the whole article, I return to the SERPs. The time between these two clicks is what dwell time is. So in this instance, 5 minutes is my dwell time.

Longer dwell times are considered as beneficial for businesses. If a person spends one minute or more on your page, then it is considered positive, and it concluded that the visitor is consuming the content. Duane considered it as a good signal. On the other hand, less than a couple of seconds time period is considered a poor result.

Traffic From Google for dwell time

It is also important to understand that all three metrics, namely, dwell time, bounce rate, and average time-on-page are indicators of different results. These terms are not interchangeable.

  • Dwell time is not the bounce rate of the website.
  • It is not the average time a user spends on your page.
  • It is not the click-through rate. The role of dwell time only measures the results of what happens after the click. It does not measure or calculate the percentage of users who click on a result.
  • It is not session duration. The session duration is the amount of time a user is spending in clicking around your website. And in this case, the session didn’t begin with a keyword search. Therefore, it cannot end back at the SERPs, and it won’t calculate the time between those clicks.

Does dwell time really affect your SEO?

Now, let’s understand the relationship between dwell time and SEO. First of all, dwell time is a metric that we cannot measure. Only Google has access to measure the length of clicks. You can track a user’s engagement with the help of Google Analytics but can only measure dwell time with a third-party tool.

Dwell time and SEO relation for dwell time

Classification of dwell time:

  • 30 seconds or less than – The content was not up to the mark, and the user was not satisfied. So, he/she went back to find something better.
  • 1 to 2 minutes – The content was useful for the user because they spent a couple of minutes reading the information.
  • 15 minutes – The user finds the content super-useful.

On the basis of the above classifications, we can say that dwell time is a good indicator of the relevance and the quality of the content. It can have a big impact on SEO as it is an indicator of engagement and SEO is all about creating more engagement. Low dwell time is a clear sign that the users are not getting the desired or useful information on your site.

We all know the fact that every click is a visit. But as a businessman, all of us would like to engage with our customers for a longer duration of time and the dwell time is an exact measure of that time.

However, even if you click back after 15-20 minutes, Google will consider it as a bounce. Therefore, it is clear that bounce rate cannot give results about the level of engagement.

Instead of bounce rate, dwell time can be used as a ranking signal because people can bounce for a number of reasons. Also, it is easier for Google to calculate the data and measure the dwell time.

Dwell time can be measured by taking two other metrics into consideration – time on page and bounce rate. If the time on page is high and there is a low bounce rate, then it will be considered as high dwell time.

Factors which affect dwell time

Here are some of the factors which may affect dwell time:

  • Slow page load speed.
  • Your website is not mobile-friendly (Since a lot of users are using mobile phones, it is important for you to ensure that your site is mobile-friendly).
  • The title tag and description are inaccurate.

Improve your dwell time by improving your content and working on the above factors.

Guest author: Aditya works as a Growth Assistant at AirTract.Com, a social platform wherein people ask questions and get answers, share knowledge and experience. He has a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science Engineering and has been working in the field of Digital Marketing for the past two years. He is also a voracious reader and a big sports fan.

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