As an SEO professional or webmaster, you must have heard the term ‘dwell time’ many times. But what does it mean?
More importantly, does dwell time really matter in search engine optimisation (SEO)? And whether you should focus on optimising the dwell time on your website?
In this blog post, we are going to explain:
- What dwell time is
- Its role in search engine optimisation and the impact on a website’s search engine rankings
- What steps you can take to improve the average dwell time on your website
What Is Dwell Time?
This is what usually happens when a user searches for something online via search engines.
They type in their search query, the search engine displays a list of relevant results, and the user clicks on a result that he thinks would have the best information.
After that, there are two possible scenarios:
- After landing on a website, if a searcher likes what he sees, he will continue reading. He will probably even browse the website further, checking out different web pages on the site.
- On the other hand, if the searcher doesn’t like what he finds on the website, he will click the ‘back’ button to come back to the search engine result page and try another result.
Dwell time refers to the time a user spends on a website before going back to the search engine results page. In other words, it is the period in which the user evaluates the site and determines whether he should continue browsing or go back to the search engine result page and find another, more useful link.
As you can see, contrary to common misconceptions, dwell time is different from bounce rate, session duration, average time on a web page, and other similar metrics that it often gets confused with.
What does dwell time matter for SEO?
Before understanding the impact of dwell time on search engine rankings, it is important to realise how search engines work and what their business goals are.
Search engines are just like any other service. They browse the internet and present users with the most relevant and useful results, based on their search queries. The best search engine is the one that presents the most useful information to the user.
If a website has a very low dwell time, it means that people do not find that site very useful in the SERPs. It does not serve its purpose, and the online searchers eventually have to go back to the SERPs and click on another result to get the information they wanted in the first place.
This is why search engines ultimately demote web pages that consistently have a very low dwell time. It is because their goal is to present users with the most useful links, and a site with an unreasonably low dwell time certainly isn’t one.
How to improve dwell time on your website
As you can see, poor dwell time is likely to have a negative impact on your website’s search engine rankings.
Here are a few steps you can take to improve the dwell time on your site:
- Remove any early pop-ups and interstitial ads. When a user clicks on a result, they want information as soon as possible. Annoying pop-ups at the start of the browsing journey will only make them quit your website and go back to the SERPs.
- Create a pleasant website design that is easy on the eyes.
- Write interesting headlines that grab readers’ attention without sounding clickbaity.
- A web page’s meta information (meta title and meta description) helps set the correct expectations of what the user is going to find on the web page. Use that to your advantage strategically.
- Create digestible content. Use short sentences and paragraphs. Use images and bullet-points to make your content easy to read. Also, divide your content into smaller sections with images, paragraphs, and subheadings.
- Make sure your content is interesting and useful. The opening paragraph needs to be at its best to draw the readers in.
- Use internal links to keep the visitors on your website for longer.
Dwell time isn’t just a measure of how long search engine users spend on your website before going back. It also shows how well your website is serving its intended audience.
Above-average dwell time is also a testament to the quality of content you’re producing. Make sure you use the tips mentioned in this article to make the most of your SEO efforts and achieve the best possible rankings in the SERPs for your website.
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