What is Dwell Time and How to Improve it?

What is Dwell Time and How to Improve it?

When designing content for commercial purposes, the most important thing is to work upon the feedback from customers. But when it comes to content for a website, how do we check how the website is doing?

To get an idea of whether the audience likes the content put up on your website, all you need to do is analyse the dwell time of the website. If the dwell time is not as expected, you need to work on improving the content so that your intended audience loves it. Let’s try and understand dwell time in more detail.

What is Dwell Time?

Dwell time is the time a user spends on a web page before heading back to the SERP. This metric tells you a lot about the user-friendly nature of a website.

Dwell time on SEO has a significant impact on the rankings of the website on SERPs. It is indicative of how engaging the content on the Web page is. The lesser the dwell time, the more the need to improve the content so that it captures the attention of the visitors to the website.

What is a long dwell time?

Now that we’ve answered: what is dwell time, you need to understand the durational importance. Anywhere between 2-4 minutes is the benchmark for average dwell time. If a user is spending 3-5 minutes, or more, on a web page that usually means that they’re deriving the information they need. A Google ranking boost is generally awarded to sites that have been registering a long dwell time.

History of Dwell Time

This goes back to the year 2011 when Duane Forrester (then Senior Project Manager at Bing) first mentioned the term dwell time in one of his blogs. He wrote, “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.” 

Basically, what he said was that your website should provide quality content to the user that encourages them to use more of your website. If the content on the website is not the best, users will not take much time to leave, which the search engines can sense. 

Here is how the search engines might interpret dwell time:

2 second dwell time: The user did not find anything relevant to his needs on your webpage so they went back to the search engine. 

2 minute dwell time: The users find the content useful and spend some time to know more about it. 

15 minute dwell time: The user loves your content and finds it extremely beneficial. In a nutshell, we can say, although we can not surely say that how dwell time impacts the rankings of your page on the search engine, it definitely does. So make sure to always add relevant content to your webpage that can entice users to check more from your website.

Why is Dwell Time Important?

While Google has never publicly confirmed from an SEO standpoint that dwell time is a critical ranking factor for its search algorithms, experiments prove a direct relationship between the two.

Moz conducted a comprehensive test to study whether engagement rates make a difference to the organic rankings. The results confirmed that metrics such as dwell time, which show the engagement rates for a particular page, had a visible correlation to the organic rankings for the same page. 

While rewards are great, dwell time also indicates whether your website is at the risk of getting blocked for some users. Let’s assume – a visitor lands on your webpage directly from Google SERP and then immediately returns. As per an industry-known feature, Google might give them a prompt to block your website entirely from the search engine results they were shown. Good performance on indicators like dwell time shows that your visitors are actually browsing your pages, and your website is not running the risk of getting blocked. 

How do you calculate dwell time?

Dwell time is calculated by measuring the time you spend clicking on a single SERP result, browsing through that web page, and then returning to the SERP. For instance, you type “trekking shoes” in the Google search bar and a list of webpages pop up. You click on the first link, and spend fifteen seconds scanning the information there before returning to the Google SERP. That fifteen seconds is your dwell time. 

What is the difference between dwell time and bounce rate?

Dwell time refers to the window of time in which a visitor clicks the link on the SERP, enters the Web page and leaves the site to return to the SERP. If the visitor spends more time “dwelling” on the Web page, the success rate of your Web page is high.

Bounce rate, on the other hand, is the percentage of single-page sessions, that is, whether the visitor has visited any other pages linked to your website or just exited the site after visiting a single page. The degree of bounce rate differs according to the various fields. Bounce rate is also a deciding factor when it comes to page ranking.

Difference between Dwell time and Average Time on Page

Dwell time and average time are two different things used by people, often in the same sense. Dwell time indicates the length of time a user spends on your webpage before returning to the SERP from where they initially visited the website. On the other hand, average time on the page refers to the average time a user spends on one of your web pages. 

Difference between Dwell time and Session Duration

Session duration is calculated by the amount of time a user spends on your website in a particular session. It is different from dwell time, which indicates the time spent on a particular page and returning to the search engine from where the session initially started. 

Difference between dwell time and Click-Through Rate

Click-through rate is generally referred to as the percentage of users who clicked on the link to your website out of the total number of users who saw that link on the search engine result page. It is entirely different from what is considered dwell time

When is Dwell Time Counted as a Visit?

As soon as you enter a web page of a website, it is counted as a visit. However, it would not be incorrect to say that a visit of only a mere few seconds is no good for your business. Every business wants higher engagement with their customer so that they can propound the features of their products and services.

If a customer just visits your website and goes back in less than a second, you get no time to engage with the customer. Typically, if you regularly follow and analyze the metrics of your website, you would know the ideal time required to make a conversion on the website. Hence, you can easily figure out which are the most valuable visits for your business.

Does Dwell Time Impact Rankings?

There is no official statement by search engine giant Google about dwell time as a metric for search engine ranking. However, it is fairly believed that it does play some role in the result page of Google. When you open the Google Analytics dashboard for your website, there are ‘bounce rate’ and ‘time on page’ metrics available on the page. Apart from that, at a conference in 2017, Google’s team member Nick Frost exclaimed that Google is now advancing and trying to figure out the relationship between the user and search engine. He also said that it focuses on when someone goes to a page, how much time he spends there, and returns back. These hints show that even though there is no evidence to prove, dwell time does impact the Google search engine rankings.

How to improve dwell time for your website? 

Irrespective of how you approach it, dwell time is an important metric. Even in its simplest form, it shows how much time users are spending on a particular page. And since these are users coming directly from the Google SERP, they have a higher intent to explore your web page. Thus, you should consider dwell time as one of the decisive parameters to measure the quality of your UX, design elements, content, and even page-load speed. 

While there’s no existing framework to increase dwell time, here are some measures that can improve a website or web page’s performance on the parameter:

  • Good content 

Your website should feature well-written content to increase dwell time. It should not be unnecessarily burdened with words that are not relevant to the subject that your website is dealing with.  Good content is self-explanatory and easily understood. 

  •  Choose correct keywords

It is important for your content to contain relevant keywords to optimize search engine optimization (SEO). Using the right keywords for blogs can help your content be more accessible to the intended audience. Employ the services of an SEO company in India to guide the intended audience to your website using extensive keyword research if you need it.

  • Improve your website speed

An improved website speed will optimize your website’s conversion rate, thus helping the visitor to go through the website smoothly without facing any issues. Waiting for the Web page to load can increase the chances of the visitor leaving. Nothing is more problematic than having to wait for the page to load. According to Forbes, 47% of the users expect a Web page to load in two seconds or less. The longer the load time, the more the bounce rates and consequently, less the dwell time. The trick is to optimize website speed to avoid getting penalized by search engines like Google. 

website speed

  • Add videos

Videos or other interactive visuals enable you to hold the visitor’s attention by raising curiosity and interest. The addition of videos gives your page a higher engagement rate by interacting with the visitors on your content’s behalf. These videos can not only help your visitor understand the content without having to go through the entire write-up, but also enable your Web page to attract visitors interested in video content. 

on page seo

  • Good internal linking

When writing content, you should ensure that there are sufficient links to the internal pages of your website. Internal linking enables you to capture the visitor’s attention. It also directs the visitor to the portions of the website that you intend them to visit. Good internal linking helps your page garner visitors and boosts the views. Internal linking plays a significant role in leading visitors to additional information that they might be interested in. Internal links reroute the visitors by redirecting them to Web pages and articles that will help them. 

internal linking


  • Break your content into headers

At times, visitors to a blog page or website skim through the headings and subheadings of the content to ascertain whether the content is interesting or relevant. Content with lengthy paragraphs might not look too interesting to visitors. Therefore, the chance that they will stay on the page longer is minimized. Breaking the content up into manageable chunks helps in retaining the attention of the visitor for longer. It also helps them absorb the message of your content.  

content breakdown


  • Write Longer and Captivating Content

This does not mean you should stuff your pages with keywords and unnecessary anecdotes. Instead, the goal is to write engaging, well-researched, and comprehensive content that allows users to read pretty much everything they want about the topic without leaving the page. 

You can use this simple idea to make it more captivating – Preview, Proof, and Transition. First, begin all major content pieces with a preview that shows what users should expect as they further read the page. Then, give some proof that validates the authority of the content. And finally, provide a smooth transition into the next section of the content. This will make seemingly long pages with 3,000-4,000 words of content more accessible for the users.


  • Create Better User Experience

User Experience is one of the core principles of ensuring high dwell time. Even if you produce great content on a fast-loading page with a bad user experience, it will not translate into better dwell time performance. 

Focus on a simple hack – how easy is it for your users to navigate the page? You can break longer content into smaller pieces and add visuals, images, and navigation buttons throughout the page. You can also provide internal links that explain technical terms wherever necessary. For longer content forms, ensure that you use the right fonts, provide enough white space, and make things as easy as possible for your users. 

  • Mobile-Optimized 

Mobile traffic constitutes nearly half of all internet traffic worldwide. So, go to your Google Search Console and look for the Mobile Usability option. This tool will highlight the pages on your website that are not optimized for mobile traffic. Fix them as soon as possible and you might see better results with dwell time for these pages.

Mobile Frinedly Test

  • Keep Your Content Up-to-Date

In order to avail better dwell time for your web pages, you must ensure that your content is up-to-date. It means your website should always add relevant information about people that can be of some value to them. Stuffing the content with keywords and links will not excite the users to check your products and services. A good way to do so is by re-publishing your older blogs with new information. People usually prefer reading recently posted information. Thus, updated content on your webpage will surely lead to higher dwell time.

Updating Content

  • Engaging with Users in the Comment Section

Usually, websites have a comment section that remains untouched. But, this can be a great communication channel between you and the users. If your content is delivering value, there is a chance the users might want to interact further with it. Established media houses like The Guardian and The Atlantic have dedicated team members responding to the comments on their websites. It shows the users that you care about feedback and are available to resolve queries. 

Moreover, just by answering a few queries in the comments section, you will prompt the users to comment because they know they will get a response. This can also translate into repeat visits and deeper on-page engagement.

How to Measure Dwell Time

Despite its strategic importance, neither Google Analytics nor Google Search Console directly reports dwell time. However, there is a workaround for this exact gap. First, log into your Google Analytics account. Next, click on the ‘Behavior’ tab and visit ‘Site Content’. You should be able to see an option called ‘Landing Pages’ in the drop-down menu.

Make sure you set up a new segment to ensure you are tracking only the organic traffic directed to your website. You will see a metric called ‘Avg. For View’. This can be used as a proxy for your dwell time calculation. The next question is – how do you know whether the average timing per view is good or not? To answer this question, you will need some industry data to make an accurate judgment. Your goal should be to come as close as possible to the industry average or perform better. You have a problem only if your web pages have outlying statistics when compared to your category. 

Start your analysis with the following data:

  1. The average time for your industry, vertical, and geography.
  2. The category of content you have on the pages.
  3. The average number of search queries made for primary search terms.
  4. General traffic trends around certain times of the year. Holidays might spur the traffic in specific categories and vice versa. 

After collecting this data, you will have a reasonable idea about the dwell time for your web pages. Here is how you can use the information you have in front of you:

  1. Diagnostics: Dig deeper and figure out what is working for the pages with a seemingly better engagement rate. 
  2. Optimizing: Focus on the pages that have a low dwell time. These might be pages contributing to the high bounce rate for your website, and fixing them can show immediate results. 
  3. Scaling: Once you have established the best practices that yield results, make sure you use them across other pages.
  4. Frequent Measurement: As you make changes to the navigation, add content, or iterate the UI for your website, keep checking on how the dwell time proxy performs.

Which is a Good Dwell Time? 

If a user is spending more than two minutes on your web page, it is considered a good dwell time. Conversely, spending less than two minutes is usually considered a poor dwell time.

Dwell Time – An Essential Analytical Metric for a Better User Experience

Summing up the article, when writing content for your website, it is crucial for you to consider the dwell time. Dwell time is intricately linked to Google ranking factors. It helps SEO professionals understand how the target audience perceives the content. Nothing is more important than engaging the intended audience with the content written on your Web page. To achieve that, you need to optimize the website speed and add adequate and appropriate keywords. 

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What is Dwell Time and How to Improve it?