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What is Dwell Time and Why It’s Important for Every Business

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Dwell time is simply the amount of time visitors stay on any web page on a website. Obviously, the longer a visitor stays on a particular page the better, because they are then much more likely to convert to a customer. Dwell Time is measured in minutes and seconds as an average time for a page across all visits in any given time period.

Google Analytics shows this metric labelled as Average Session Duration. You can check it for your own website by looking at the “Landing Pages” Report in Google Analytics. This can be accessed from the left-hand side menu under Behaviour à Site Content. The results will look something like the image below with the rightmost column showing a range of dwell times (i.e., Avg. Session Duration) from almost 4 minutes down to less than 30 seconds.:

Data Source

The reason it is important to monitor Dwell Time whatever type of business or industry is that it’s an indication of visitor engagement, and this directly impacts your bottom line.

Quite simply, if visitors stay on your most important pages for a decent amount of time (2 minutes or more) then they are far more likely to become customers because they like what they see. Dwell time is one of the most important metrics for any business with an online presence.

So, we’ve always known that Dwell Time is important and is a good indication of whether visitors are likely to convert to customers. Interestingly the other metric worth monitoring as a signal of user engagement – Bounce Rate (also shown in the image above) – becomes less important if Dwell Time is high, according to SEO Experts Ditto Digital. So don’t worry too much if Bounce Rate is high (>75%) providing Dwell Time is also high (2 minutes or more). But take action to make improvements if Bounce Rate is high and Dwell Time is low. That is a clear indication that the page is not delivering what visitors want.

Dwell Time Impacts Organic Rankings

But the importance of Dwell Time is no longer just about user engagement and converting visitors. Research carried out by Ditto Digital has also revealed that pages with a high Dwell Time rank consistently higher in organic search over a long period than pages with a lower Dwell Time – all else being equal. That means that Dwell Time also affects how high a website appears in Google search listings and, therefore, that it is more likely to attract more visitors to a particular page on a website.

The Ditto Digital research indicates this metric has become an even more important ranking factor since the 2 core updates to Google’s algorithm in June and July 2021.

But now that you know how to monitor Dwell Time, what constitutes a good value for this metric, and why it is important, how can you go about improving it when it is too low for important pages on a website?

How to Improve Dwell Time

Fortunately, there are several ways to increase Dwell Time which are relatively simple to implement.

Check The Page Content

First check the content on the page and compare it to the Title and Description that appears in the search engine results pages listing (SERPS). Does it provide the information, products, or services that a visitor would expect after clicking in the SERPS? Is there enough detail?

For instance, for products or services is everything on the page that a potential customer might expect. And for informational content such as articles, guides, or case studies, does it go into enough detail? Does it sound authoritative, and does it cite reliable research? Or is it just generic content a visitor could find on 100 other sites?

Check The Page Functionality

Does the page work in the way a visitor might expect? Test out clicking buttons, entering data, buying a product, and generally interacting with the page – especially the sections near the top.

Check The Page Speed

When checking the Page Content and Page Functionality did it work quickly and easily? Even if it appeared to be quick from a human perspective it is worth checking how Google perceives the page in terms of speed. You can do this with their PageSpeed Insights Tool.

Create “Jump Links”

If the page contains good content and is fast to use with no obvious errors, then you can also make improvements to encourage people to stay on it for longer by adding some “Jump Links” throughout the page – especially in the “above-the-fold” section if Dwell Time is very low (< 30 seconds). Jump links are simply links that “Jump” to other sections of the same page rather than to a different page on the same website (internal links) or a different website altogether (external links). These links can be created either as text links or graphical links such as buttons or text-overlaid images.

This is where you might need the help of a web developer or a graphic design tool to help with colours and designs that are more likely to encourage a visitor to click. Fundamentally though they are just like a regular Call-To-Action. The difference is that they move the visitor to a different section of the page to retain their interest and, hence, increase Dwell Time.

Another way to create a jump link, which is especially useful for long, content-heavy pages such as articles and guides, is to create a Table of Contents at the beginning of the page. This way visitors can see, even before they scroll down, whether there is any content of interest to them. Again, a good web developer can implement a Table of Contents easily and quickly.

Final Thoughts

Every business wants to attract, engage, and convert visitors and monitoring Dwell Time is one of the fundamental ways to determine how successful that aim is. And if visitors are not engaged with important pages on a website try making some of the improvements recommended above and check the impact on Dwell Time. For very little effort you could make a big impact on your bottom line.

Published: October 25, 2021

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Michelle Symonds

Michelle Symonds spent many years in the oil industry and investment banking, designing and building software applications and websites, then later managing complex global IT projects. In 2009 she started a consultancy specialising in SEO to use her tech skills in the rapidly growing field of digital marketing, and so Ditto Digital was born. Ditto Digital devises and implements SEO campaigns based on in-depth data analysis and are very pro-active and flexible to adapt to changing requirements or external influences. Their top-level digital marketing services have enabled small companies to successfully compete with major brands in the online space. Find out more at DittoDigital or connect with Michelle on LinkedIn.

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