You may have heard the term “dwell time”.
Did you know that by improving your website’s dwell time, you can achieve better search rankings along with better user experience?
If you’re curious to know all the details about dwell time, you’re in the right place.
We all know how important search traffic is. But search engines like Google considers a ton of factors into consideration while ranking a page.
If you want to improve your website’s search traffic, you should keep an eye on few of those ranking factors for better results. Although dwell time is NOT a Google ranking factor (Or is it? We’ll find out), but it can significantly improve your user experience and rankings.
Let’s jump into the details and find out what is dwell time and how you can improve your website’s dwell time and so on.
Table of Contents
- Dwell Time: What Is It All About? How to Improve It In 2019?
- How to Improve Dwell time: Top 5 Ways
Dwell Time: What Is It All About? How to Improve It In 2019?
What Is Dwell Time?
Dwell time is the amount of time someone stays on a web page on your website before returning back to the SERP results.
In simple words, dwell time is the amount of time a user spends on your page before going back to their search.
The more time they spend on your page, the better dwell time your page gets. The higher the dwell time (higher average spent time on page), the higher your overall search rankings. It’s as simple as that.
Consider these two scenarios.
Scenario 1: Someone visits a page on your website from Google search and stays on that page for a long time.
Scenario 2: Someone visits a page on your website from Google search and leaves that page quickly.
In scenario 1, Google considers that your website must be providing great value to the users for that term because the users are spending more time on your page.
In scenario 2, Google assumes that your website is not serving the users intent for that term because the users are leaving your page instantly after arriving.
Since Google always wants to give the BEST possible experience to all its users, it ranks your SERP result higher (in scenario 1) and degrades your rankings (in scenario 2).
It ultimately gives you an idea about how important dwell time is.
In a nutshell, your website dwell time is directly proportional to your website organic rankings. If you’ve a better dwell time, you’ll see an increase in your search rankings.
Dwell time example
Let’s talk about an example of dwell time so you can understand even better.
Let’s assume, you’re searching for a topic around “best yoga practices,” and you’ll most probably click on a search result that’s most interesting to you.
Suppose reading that page took you around 5 minutes and after you decide to return to the SERPs to get more information from other sources about the same particular topic (i.e “best yoga practices), so you click back.
The time between those 2 clicks (i.e the time between their arrival on your page and existing back to the SERP results), that 5 minutes is your dwell time.
Are you getting it?
Unfortunately, there’s no user metric of dwell time that you can view in your Google Analytics. But to predict your website’s dwell time, you should know how much time people typically spend on various pages on your website. That way, you’ll get an estimation of what your page dwell time is.
Dwell Time Vs Bounce Rate
Most people get confused with both dwell time and bounce rate. Are they both the same?
No, they are not the same.
Bounce rate is when a bounce happens on your website i.e when someone visits only one page and leaves your site without clicking on any other link or page on your site.
That means the bounce rate is the percentage of single-page sessions divided by all the sessions for your website.
Whereas the dwell time is the amount of time someone stays on a web page on your site before leaving back to the SERP results on Google.
Another important difference between both dwell time and bounce rate is that it doesn’t matter how much time someone spends on your time (be it 5 seconds or 5 minutes), if they abandon your site without clicking on any other page on your site, it can be a “bounce”.
Same is not the case with dwell time as the more time spent on your site can make a huge difference as it improves your page dwell time.
Although you can find few user engagement metrics like time on page, bounce rate of your website in Google Analytics but you can’t find a metric to measure your dwell time.
Is Dwell Time A Google Ranking Factor
No one knows whether dwell time is a Google ranking factor or not because Google never said publicly that it considers dwell time as a ranking factor while ranking a page.
But Google definitely considers dwell time to provide a better experience to the users.
Here we want to tell you ONE important thing. Google never focuses on ONE or TWO metrics to rank a web page (in fact, it considers over 200 ranking factors to rank a page in search results).
Most SEO experts also tell you the same thing.
In one of the Whiteboard Friday videos, Rank Fishkin, SEO expert told that Google doesn’t depend on just one metric as it considers all of the metrics (including organic CTR, dwell time, searcher intent etc) to rank a page in Google search results.
Have a look at it.
Here’s what Duane Forrester (Senior Project Manager for Bing) said about the importance of it.
“Your goal should be that when a visitor lands on your page, the content answers all of their needs, encouraging their next action to remain with you. If your content does not encourage them to remain with you, they will leave. The search engines can get a sense of this by watching the dwell time.”
As you can see, your content plays a crucial role in increasing your dwell time, so make sure to focus on creating highly valuable content to increase it.
Although Google never officially stated that dwell time is a ranking factor but most experts think Google considers it while ranking a page to provide better user experience.
For example, when you click on a search result on Google and then click back, you’ll see a “People also search for” section with relevant content under the original listing you clicked on.
Here’s how it looks like;
As you can see above, you’ll be shown “People also search for” section with relevant content to the topic you’re searching for (in the above example, it is “best SEO practices”).
When you search for “best SEO practices” (or any other term) on Google search and click on a link to visit that page and click back, you’ll instantly see the above “people also search for” section appearing.
It’s surely a dwell time indicator by Google.
Why? Because if someone is returning the search results, they most probably might not have found the answer they were actually searching for.
In order to provide them with the better search experience, Google instantly suggests them a few related searches to make your search experience better.
So there you go. Although dwell time is not a big ranking factor but it definitely improves your user and search experience of your website audience.
Then, how to improve your website’s dwell time? Let’s talk about it now.
How to Improve Dwell time: Top 5 Ways
Improving your dwell time is NOT hard. You just need to figure out what the searchers want and serve them with the right content (or products).
That being said, here are 5 proven ways to increase dwell time of your pages in 2019 and beyond.
1. Use the APP method
Brian Dean, the SEO expert and the founder of Backlinko introduced the term the “APP model”.
APP stands for Agree, Promise, and Preview.
Let’s break each element in APP so you can understand better about the APP model to increase your website’s dwell time significantly.
As we discussed above APP stands for Agree, Promise, and Preview, so let’s now talk about each one of them.
Agree: We all know how important the introduction lines are. When you’re writing a blog post, you should spend quality time in writing compelling introduction lines. Here’s where you should also make Google searchers agree with your topic (or any problem) they are facing.
For instance, if you start an introduction with something like “It’s hard to lose belly fat” (considering that you’re writing a topic around belly fat reduction), it’s easier to make people agree with what you said. Because that’s true. So the key here is to make people agree in the introduction itself.
Promise: Now that you’ve got your readers attention, it’s time for the next element i.e Promise.
Here’s where you can persuade them with some actionable elements (you can give a sneak peak of what you’re going to deliver within your page)
Here’s an example of Brian Dean’s SEO techniques post.
As you can see above, Brian is promising the readers that he’s going to teach you the exact SEO techniques he used to generate over 200k unique visitors per month to his site.
Anyone who’s searching for “SEO techniques to increase their traffic” on Google and lands on his page will definitely check out his whole post (which ultimately improves his page overall dwell time).
Preview: Now, let’s talk about the final important which is Preview. You can tell your readers exactly what they are going to discover in your post.
Here’s an example.
As you can see above, (it’s another example of Brian Dean’s blog post), you’ll find that Brian is giving the readers a preview of what they are going to discover within the post.
Once you carefully used all the elements in the APP model (Agree, Promise and Preview), you’re done with a great introduction that helps you improve your overall page dwell time.
2. Create content that makes people stick to your site like glue
So what’s the most effective and PROVEN way to increase your dwell time?
Create content that makes Google searchers stick to your site like glue. Yes, creating content worthy of sticking around on your website is the KEY.
Create longer articles
A 2000+ word article definitely takes more time to read when compared to a 300 word article, right? Usually it takes more than 5 minutes for someone to read a longer article, which means, by creating long form of content, you can easily increase your page dwell time.
But make sure your content is worth reading. Otherwise, even if you write a gigantic 5000+ word post to increase your dwell time, no one reads it and it won’t help you with dwell time at all.
Above all, creating detailed articles can increase your search traffic besides improving your dwell time. Just have a look at the following illustration.
As you can see above, the average page length of top 5 positions in Google is around 2000 words. That means, Google also prefers to rank detailed contents.
Here are a few essential tips to create 2000+ word articles to improve your dwell time.
Know what good content is: Before you even decide to create a 2000 word article, it’s better to first know what good content actually is. Why? Simply because you can’t convince readers to stay on your site by filling your articles with junk, right?
Your content needs to be extremely good. It should answer your target audience questions, help them achieve their goals, solve their problems, encourage your audience to stay on your site longer and if possible entertain them! If your content has these attributes, it will surely perform well socially and organically.
Research your competitors: The best way to create long form of content that’s helpful for your target audience is to research your competitor websites thoroughly so you can learn a lot of things including;
- How to craft your posts
- How to write compelling headlines
- How to optimize your posts for keywords
- How to build links to your contents
- How to add call to actions within your content
- How to increase your social shares and so on
Give something extra (such as eBooks, checklists at the end)
Giving something extra to your audience always works like a charm. You can give something extra that including anything related to your content such as free downloadable resources, cheatsheets, PDF version of your article, checklist, extra information, video related to the content and so on.
Make sure to provide those extra resources at the end of your article so they will be spending more time to go through them. For example, you might have written an article around “increasing website sales”, at the end of that post (or anywhere within your article), you can include a video by sharing your own sales experience.
Here’s an example of such post where you’ll find both the article along with a video. It certainly helps with better dwell time on your website.
3. Fix slow loading pages
No one likes to spend their time on a slow loading website. If your pages are loading slowly, your dwell time will be really less when compared to your competitor sites (if their site speed is much better).
So make sure to fix slow loading pages. Properly optimize your image sizes before you upload them, use fewer plugins, and make sure to use the following tips to increase your page performance.
Stop showing popups
Whether you know it or not, search engines like Google and Bing are clearly against including elements such as popups, annoying ads on your site. Why? Most people find them irrelevant and often abandon a site with popups or annoying ads.
That’s why search engines like Google are often against such things. So stop using them if you’re already using and test your search results after a while to see any increase your search traffic and rankings.
For a couple of weeks, we too used exit-intent technology to show exit popups (they appear right before someone leaves our site) but stopped using them for obvious reasons.
Use a powerful caching plugin
At Bloggers Passion, we use and highly recommend WP Rocket (it’s a premium caching plugin that costs you $49 where you’ll get 1 year of support and updates for 1 website.
Although there are a ton of other caching plugins like WP Super Cache, W3 total cache etc but WP Rocket plugin outperforms all of them. So if you can spend a few bucks, it’s a great plugin to boost your site performance and speed.
Here are few benefits of using WP Rocket plugin.
- Database optimizer
- Heartbeat, add-ons, image optimization
- File optimization
- Media (provides options including LazyLoad It can improve actual and perceived loading time as images, iframes, videos etc will be loaded only as they view
- Reduce the number of HTTP requests
Here’s how the lazyload feature looks like in the backend of this plugin.
If you’re curious, you can read our detailed review of WP Rocket plugin from here.
Invest in a faster web host
At Bloggers Passion, we’re using WPX hosting (although it is a bit expensive, costs you around $25 per month) but every penny is worth it. It is faster, reliable and more importantly secure hosting.
WPX hosting offers you 3 pricing plans which are;
- Business (costs you $24.99 per month where you can install up to 5 websites)
- Professional (costs you $49.99 per month where you can install up to 15 websites)
- Elite (costs you $99 per month where you can install up to 35 websites)
You can read our detailed WPX hosting review (where you’ll also find a special link to grab their hosting at $12.50 for the first month) for more details about their features, benefits and so on.
Since dwell time is mostly measured on the time between someone reaching at a page and returning to the SERPs, it makes a lot of sense to add internal links to improve your dwell time.
Even authority SEO blogs like Ahrefs, Wordstream believe that there’s a correlation between internal linking and dwell time, as they believe internal linking helps you improve your overall website’s dwell time.
Here’s what few SEO experts have to say about the importance of using internal links to improve dwell time:
“By adding more internal links, you’re making your visitors to stay busy when they’ve consumed the content that you provide on one page and it ultimately increases the overall session duration per user.”
Above all, adding internal links has a ton of other benefits too including;
- Helps you with SEO
- Helps you with better crawlability
- Helps you pass the link juice to other pages (which are relevant)
- Helps your readers to read more relevant content
- And the list goes on
So how can you smartly do internal linking on your site?
Here are few quick yet most effective tips for adding internal links within your pages to improve your website’s SEO along with dwell time.
Use tools: The best way to interlink to your old posts which are relevant is to use tools like WordPress SEO by Yoast as the premium version gives you automatic internal linking recommendations. These internal link suggestions are highly relevant to the topic you cover so you can easily include them within your posts.
Smartly use Google: Another awesome way to interlink is to simply use a search term on Google like “site:yourblogname.com category or topic name” to find all the relevant blog posts within your blog around a particular keyword to easily internal link to your old posts which are relevant to your targeted topics.
Link while you write: Most people often add internal links once they are done with the writing part of their articles. Instead of that, link to your old contents and relevant contents while writing. We personally use Google Docs for writing blog posts and we often interlink while writing as it saves time and allows us to add highly relevant content.
Quick note: We also have written a useful guide on how to interlink your blog posts where you can find even more incredible tips and action elements, so make sure to go through the whole post.
5. Create call to actions
Last but not least: make sure to include call to actions at the end of every blog post you publish.
If you’re a frequent reader of our blog, you’ll notice that we often end our blog posts with a conclusion and we also ask questions if you’ve any related to the topic. That’s actually a call to action!
That way, people will spend more time asking questions in the comment section which ultimately improves the page dwell time.
So whenever you’re writing a blog post, make sure to ask yourself “what’s the #1 thing your audience can take away from your post”.
Also make sure to find out what’s the #1 thing you want from your blog posts. Do you want more shares, comments or ask your readers to read some other relevant articles?
Find out your call to action and include them in every post you publish.
FAQs About Dwell Time
Here are a few interesting questions around dwell time that can help you better understand it along with its impact on your websites in 2019 and beyond.
1. What is dwell time?
Dwell time is the amount of time that’s spent between that a visitor spends on a page before returning to the SERPs. In simple terms, how long someone stays at one page on your site before they return back to the search results for the same term (or keyword or topic).
So it means, the longer the dwell time the better it is as your website’s dwell time indicates that the user is satisfied with your content on a page before returning to the SERPs.
2. What are the factors that affect dwell time?
Here are some of the factors that could affect your website’s dwell time.
- The quality of your content (if your content doesn’t the searchers expectations, they immediately return back to the SERPs)
- The speed of your web pages (both your website overall speed and individual pages loading times matter a lot)
- Satisfying the searchers intent (you should find out what exactly your target audience wants and serve them with the most appropriate content)
- Mobile friendliness of your site (whether you know it or not, 80% and more people are using mobiles to browse information online)
- And the list goes on
3. How to measure dwell time?
Google doesn’t provide you any metrics to specifically measure dwell time of your site. But dwell time can be literally considered a combination of both metrics which are bounce rate and average time spent on a page.
That means, you can use Google Analytics and keep an eye on those two metrics including bounce rate and average time on page to estimate your page dwell time.
Once you’ve estimated dwell time of a page, you can improve it by “reducing that page bounce rate and increasing the average time on that particular page”. It essentially means that your website’s visitors are spending more time on a page before leaving it (and returning back to the SERP results).
4. Can interlinking help in improving the dwell time?
The short answer is YES. We’ve already discussed above that dwell time is measured as the time between arriving at a page and returning to the SERPs. So even if someone visits your site from Google, clicks on any another page on your site, it’s still going to increase your website’s dwell time.
So yes, internal linking definitely helps you achieve better dwell time. Make sure to add relevant internal links whenever you publish a new post on your blog.
5. What are the benefits of increasing your dwell time?
There are a ton of major benefits of improving your dwell time which include;
- Better user engagement (improving dwell time literally means, your website users are highly engaged with what you’re serving in your page be it better content, products, services and so on)
- Better search rankings (although it’s not an official Google ranking factor, but as we discussed above Google takes dwell time into consideration to provide relevant search results for the searcher)
- Better conversions (if someone is spending more time on a page on your site means, they are going to convert into a sale if you promote the right products at the right time)
- And the list goes on and on
Final thoughts on increasing your dwell time
Although Google never publicly disclosed that dwell time is a ranking factor or not, but it’s always a smart idea to improve your dwell time since it helps with better user engagement and average session time per user.
Hopefully by using the above strategies, you can dramatically improve your dwell time by satisfying your searcher’s intent.
So did you find this detailed guide on dwell time useful? What are some of the ways that you use to increase your website’s dwell time? Or if you still have any questions, let us know in the comments.