What is Dwell Time and why it is Important for your Website

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What Is Dwell Time?

When someone visits a web page after clicking a link on a SERP page, but before returning to the SERP results page, they are considered to have dwelled on it.

This is probably something you’ve done many times before. The first few seconds after you click your mouse to visit a website are spent evaluating it. You smashed the back button either because instantaneous access to the information you desired was provided, or because the failure was so obvious.

Time spent consuming the content of a page should be obvious when you visit it; the more likely you are to feel satisfied with that page.

The above is clearly a generic statement, since there are many loopholes to take into account, but it can certainly be applied. Generally speaking, the opposite is true as well – spending less time on a webpage will result in a lower level of satisfaction.

A glance at the weather page may suffice if you need the weather. In these cases, an evaluation based on dwell time would be appropriate: the shorter the dwell time, the greater the satisfaction.

The process isn’t as simple as an application of a concept to a broad range of situations.

It’s a metric that’s applied to rankings at some level that holds some value in relation to those rankings.

Using dwell time as a metric is not a good use of time since its importance is relative and must be considered in combination with other factors.

Although it will be worthwhile to improve a website’s user engagement in the long run, focusing on broader improvements is important. Although you may find that your dwell time is increased, it should not be your primary motivation for doing anything

Why Is Dwell Time Important?

There are several reasons why visitors leave your website. Among them are:

  •  Spam on the site
  •  Misleading content
  •  There are many grammatical errors in the content
  •   Pages taking a long time to load
  •  Mobile compatibility is not available on the website
  • Too many Pop-ups

We can calculate dwell time by looking at how long a page remains relevant to visitors. In other words, dwell time assesses the relevance and quality of your content. Your website delivers higher value to online users the longer users stay on your site before returning to SERPs.

In the case of content-centric sites, longer dwell times indicate a better understanding of what users are searching for. It is an important insight as search engines consider optimized content a major ranking signal. Backlinks help generate quality traffic, enhance brand recognition, and, of course, boost search engine ranking.

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What's the Difference Between Dwell Time, Bounce Rate, and Time on Page?

To begin with, one should be aware of the distinction between actual bounce rate and bounce rate per session, because dwell time is directly related to bounce rate.

Time on Page is accurately determined by two clicks, including an entrance and exit click, in analytics platforms such as Google Analytics. 

In the absence of the second click, every visitor who lands on a website spends more or less 25 minutes there, and then leaves is regarded as a bounce, despite the fact that it’s not. 

A six-second visit is undoubtedly a bounce. The visitor came to the page, determined that the information was not what they wanted, then left. 

Bounces are not actually defined as a user arriving at a site and exploring the content for almost half an hour before leaving. Therefore, some highly ranked pages with high-quality content may appear to have a high bounce rate. The bounce rate is not high, it’s just a normal bounce rate.

Therefore, dwell time provides a better gauge of the quality and relevance of a webpage than bounce rate, which is considered by some marketers not to be reliable. However, how does dwell time affect search engine rankings?

What Is Dwell Time for SEO?

Due to its solely SERP-based nature, dwell time plays a vital role in SEO strategy. Knowing if search engine results are directing users to the right area of your website is essential. 

When considering dwell time as a metric, you should know it fluctuates depending on the purpose of the visit. It may only take people a couple of minutes to click on a link if you operate a weather website or a retail business. 

You would naturally have a low dwell time in that case. Unlike blogs and videos, however, where it takes a while to read an article or watch a video, blogs and videos can be expected to have longer dwell times. Get an idea of the ideal average dwell time for your site by compiling all the metrics related to dwell time. 

Once you have that information, use the following tips to help you reach dwell time goals.

  • Make sure you’re not annoying your users with intrusive or disruptive advertising, such as pop-ups and auto-scroll videos. Having to watch or click through interstitial ads to get to your content is one of the surest ways to lose a customer. Provide them with an easy and non-intrusive method for finding the information they need.
  • Provide Actionable, Accessible, and Enjoyable Content: Your content needs to be actionable, accessible, and entertaining. Use reputable, helpful links only. Add additional content related to search results to the page so that users won’t have to look for it.
  • There is just as much importance to loading time as to content. If your site’s load speed is slow, people will stay less on your site. To find out how to optimize your site’s speed, use Pingdom’s Website Speed Test tool. User speed and load time speed are equally important. Even though scrolling pages can be a bother, when done properly, they can also make content easier to read and allow search engines to parse data faster.

Focusing on conversion optimization is a key element of meeting the ideal dwell time. If your conversion rate is low, there could be content issues, malfunctioning links, or speed problems that prevent visitors from accessing the site.

Bounce Rate

Too high bounce rates could be an indication that your business is experiencing major problems, like low dwell times or a lack of dynamic content. Both are detrimental to your business. 

In some instances, bounce rates will be high and that is normal, for example, a website where you pay a bill, doesn’t take that long, a maximum of 2 minutes is all.  As a result, there will be little dwell time on a site like this since paying a bill where all your information is stored is quick and easy. In that case, a high bounce rate is good because the user’s need was met, so they moved on. 

Additionally, you can expect to see higher bounce rates on sites that are mobile-only. A lower bounce rate is better for sites offering online training or retail deals since you expect people to stay on your site longer. 

In the case of a bounce rate that is at least 90%, one of the following issues may be present:

  • Slow loading times
  • Poor or insufficient content
  • A poorly designed website 

Bounce rate can tell businesses if their analytics software is not tracking correctly and what areas of the website design need to be improved. Among the factors to consider are:

  • Is the page aligned with the user’s intent, has it answered the user’s search query accurately?
  • Do user’s search engines find the page relevant to their search?
  • A good page should have actionable, informative, and engaging content.
  • Ensure the page attracts the correct type of visitors
  • Depending on the device from which a user accesses a website, bounce rates may be affected. Does the typical user access the website via desktop, laptop, or mobile?

If your website offers similar services or products, you can examine top sites offering similar bounce rates. The value of bounce rates comes from their ease of measurement, their relation to business goals, and the ability to improve them.

On-page time

The bounce rate affects this metric, but it’s not the same. In essence, TSOP (time spent on page ) is when someone accesses a site and spends some time on a specific page. Time spent on a page is less reliable if the exit rate is high. 

An accurate reflection of TSOP is generally indicated by low exit percentages. Following a period of time spent on a page, exit percentages measure the total number of users who exited. Using event tracking methods will allow you to determine TSOP metrics that are accurate:

  • When the user scrolled down
  • Page interaction (signups, social sharing, videos, links, etc.)
  • Upon visiting another page on the website, the user is redirected

If TSOP doesn’t track events, without any tracking events. If by any chance a user leaves their browser open during lunch, or when they are at an online store they leave the browser open TSOP will not track it. You will gain actionable information if you track specific actions rather than time periods.

Final say

Dwell rate is a better metric than bounce rate that gives us insights. Let’s recap the what we learned here, 

  • Dwell time, Bounce rate, and Time on the page are all different metrics. 
  • Dwell time’s data leads you to actionable insights. You can then make changes to your website accordingly. 
  • Not all bounce rates are bad bounce rates. 

About the Author

My name’s Semil Shah, and I pride myself on being the last digital marketer that you’ll ever need. Having worked internationally across agile and disruptive teams from San Fransico to London, I can help you take what you are doing in digital to a whole next level.

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