Dwell time is the amount of time spent on a specific page on a website.
A higher dwell time means more engagement and better SEO results.
You can measure your website’s dwell time using Google Analytics or other tools like CrazyEgg to see how long people are staying on each page.
Many say it’s not as important as bounce rate—but that may not be entirely true!
In many cases, high bounce rates correspond with lower dwell times, meaning those visitors were only briefly interested before leaving the site for good.
This could mean there was something off about the content being offered, which can suggest an issue with keyword research or relevance.
However, just because a user left doesn’t mean their visit meant nothing. They could have bookmarked the site to read for later.
When you have consistently short dwell times you may want to consider that something could be wrong with your content.
What is Dwell Time, Exactly?
As we’ve established, dwell time refers to how long someone spends on a page. The metric is calculated by dividing the total time spent reading content with the number of pages viewed.
If someone spends 20 minutes on your blog post and they read two pages in that amount of time then their dwell time on each page would be 50%.
It’s important to know how long people are spending on your site because it can help you identify what your users like and dislike so that you’ll be able to create better content in future posts.
Why Is Dwell Time Important?
Dwell time is important because it shows visitor engagement. Engagement is a critical part of SEO success.
Essentially, the more engaged a reader is, the longer they will stay on your site.
While this is accurate to a certain extent, Google said they do not necessarily use dwell time or click-through rates as ranking factors. Or so they say. Google has been known to bend the truth when it comes to their algorithms Such as with Rel=Next/Prev, which they claim they haven’t supported for years.
If Google thinks dwell time is unimportant, why should you optimize for it?
There are too many statistics and too much evidence to support its benefit to write dwell time off entirely.
More backlinks = better rankings, and better backlinks can come from longer content.
So while dwell time does not directly increase rankings according to Google, it can help attain better backlinks that are highly beneficial to increasing those rankings.
How Are Dwell Time & Bounce Rates Different?
In many cases where high bounce rate corresponds with low dwell time, people may have been only briefly interested in the page before leaving it for good.
This could mean there was something off about the content being offered such as poor keyword choice or relevancy.
People may also leave a page if their objective has already been met, which means they aren’t truly engaging with the page at all. Dwell time will reveal what visitors really are looking for and if your content meets their objectives.
A low bounce rate alone doesn’t always tell the whole story. Dwell time is also important for determining visitor engagement and content quality.
How do You Optimize for Dwell Time?
It’s possible to optimize your site for dwell time by making sure you have interesting content that resonates well with readers. This often correlates with longer content as well.
Your blog must be updated regularly and your content must be in-depth to keep visitors engaged.
The key is to give them enough information, but not too much! You want the visitor to feel satisfied after reading your post, but to come back for more later.
Provide the information that will help them accomplish what they set out to do.
There are some best practices for optimizing dwell time, such as limiting the number of clicks on any one page.
Having to click too many times can lead visitors down a path they didn’t intend to take, which is especially problematic when it comes to mobile devices which often have limited options for navigating a site.
Another important aspect of improving dwell time is ensuring that text content or multimedia content doesn’t auto-play without user input—this may be more annoying to users than it is useful!
Dwell Time SEO Tip: Create and Embed Engagement Objects (Such as Videos)
Embedding engagement objects like videos is a great way to grab people’s attention and make them stick around on your page.
Higher performing videos tend to have the following attributes. Don’t forget to read our article on YouTube SEO and how to optimize your videos for the best results!
The best videos:
- are publicly available;
- use Schema.org structured data;
- have high-quality thumbnails;
- have video sitemaps implemented on sites that create videos; and
- have easily accessible files on YouTube, Vimeo, Streamable, or another site. We are partial to using YouTube for all SEO efforts.
You can use videos to help your dwell time by increasing the overall number of engagement objects on your page along with their quality and depth of content.
Dwell Time SEO Tip: Write Longer Content
Text content is an important factor when it comes to dwell time because readers usually don’t scroll down on their own unless they’re really interested or there are links that lead elsewhere.
Keep your copy clean but interesting with lots of images and white space while still making sure to include all essential information for visitors such as contact details and website navigation tools.
While this isn’t all-inclusive and doesn’t help rankings directly, longer content could help dwell time by keeping your potential client’s attention span longer than if your articles were all short and sweet.
Also, there is some evidence that shows that long form content is ideal for backlink opportunities.
Clearly, there are other benefits to writing longer content, even when they are not a direct ranking factor.
Here are a few statistics regarding longer content and how it helps various parts of your SEO campaign:
- Long-form content gets an average of 77.2% more links than short articles.
- Headlines that are 14-17 words in length generate 76.7% more social shares than short headlines.
- Content longer than 3000 words gets an average of 77.2% more referring domain links than content shorter than 1000 words.
- Content between 1k-2k words is ideal for generating social shares.
Source: Backlinko’s long-form content case study.
How Long Should You Make Your Content?
There is no perfect number of words or sentences that will guarantee an increase in dwell time. That being said, it’s typically more effective to write shorter paragraphs and less dense content than longer ones with lots of text.
The best way to see what works for your website audience is through testing—but as a rule of thumb you should be aiming for 500-1000 words per post for less research-oriented articles.
You can also add white space between paragraphs by using line breaks, bulleted lists and strong headings so readers have something visually interesting on the page while they’re scrolling down.
Don’t forget to make your content’s subject matter clear, and link to other posts on the same topic for more detail.
How Does Audience Engagement Relate to Bounce Rate?
Dwell time tells you exactly how engaged your audience is on your site. Audience engagement is important because this factor tells you how engaged your audience actually is with your content and web design.
Here’s what we found from our research:
- The average length of an internet user’s attention span has fallen from 12 seconds to 8 seconds since 2000,
- On mobile devices specifically, users spend about three minutes per session before quitting the app they are using for another one.
- Nearly 60% of users will abandon a webpage that takes more than three seconds to load.
- Users are also likely to leave if they don’t find the information they are looking for in less than one minute on a website.
All of these statistics show how important it is to keep your audience engaged as long as possible, and dwell time can be an indicator of whether or not you’re doing this well enough.
Dwell time has been found to affect conversions—the longer someone spends viewing content before converting, the lower their chances of converting become (even when there were no other factors influencing conversion rates).
This may mean that people who spend five minutes on your blog post about widgets have higher likelihoods of buying those widgets than someone who spent around 35 seconds on that blog post.
Improving Your Dwell Time Is an Art as Much as It Is a Science
Long-form content has its place as an SEO strategy. But,this doesn’t mean you should ignore other strategies at its expense.
Longer content is a strong supplement to other content types and strategies. It can diversify your content strategy and target different types of consumers.
Longer content helps to increase your authority on a subject. Just any old content won’t do. That’s why ongoing research and continued commitment to improving your existing content is a necessary component to any successful SEO strategy.
The results will speak for themselves!
Featured Image: Shutterstock / May, 2021
Image 1: https://backlinko.com/content-study / May, 2021