What Is Dwell Time, and Why Does It Matter for Businesses?

February 15, 2023
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It is one thing for you to include SEO in your budget and another to ensure that you are doing it right. Spending on search optimization will be counterproductive if you are unaware of metrics or ignore them altogether. When measuring and evaluating your SEO initiatives' success, you need to find the ranking factors where your efforts fall short. One thing that can help you improve your strategy is dwell time—here is a closer look at this metric.

Dwell Time Defined

The time it takes for you to stay on a webpage after accessing the search engine results pages and before returning to the same SERPs is considered your dwell time. For example, you click on a link from the SERPs, spend two minutes on the webpage, and then return, your dwell time would be two minutes. Hence, SERPs are the bookends for your dwell time.

When you look at dwell time, it would be helpful to know the nuances of other related concepts, which are "time on page" and "bounce rate." Time on page refers to when a visitor first clicks to enter a page and then clicks again to leave the same page.

Where the users go doesn't matter. Bounce rate refers to the percentage of how many times a visitor clicks on just one page on your website, which is also known as single-page sessions. No matter how long the visitor stays on that page, if they return to the SERPs or close the tab, it adds to the tally for the bounce rate.

Both time on page and bounce rate might be able to tell you that a visitor got what they needed from your site. However, dwell time has more implications. If a visitor goes back to the SERPs immediately after visiting your website, it means they didn't find what they were after. A good dwell time is two to four minutes; aim for these figures for your site.

Improving Your Dwell Time

If you want to improve how long people stay on your pages, you should first know how to calculate dwell time. You can do this by accessing the "Average Session Duration" metric in Google Analytics, which measures the average time a visitor spends on your site after landing on one of your pages. 

You can do this by logging into your Google Analytics account and clicking "Behavior." Under this choice, click "Site Content," then "Landing Pages." Creating a new segment for viewing organic traffic will let you view the metric "Avg. Session Duration," which is the number you would want to get.

How Do You Improve Dwell Time?

After obtaining the dwell time of specific pages, you can now analyze each one and ask yourself important questions. Why is the Dwell Time longer on this page compared to this other one? Does it have to do with the content, the design, or the visual aids? What can I do to improve on pages with a short Dwell Time? What would make a visitor stay on my site and not return to the SERPs anymore? By investigating the answers to these questions and considering the importance of dwell time in your SEO analysis, you'll be sure to improve your website's metrics. Here are some things that can help.

Create More Substantial Articles

Logically speaking, if you put more content on a page, people will have to stay for a longer time so they could read all of it. Dwell time naturally increases in long-form articles. Typically, content needs to have at least 2,000 words to be considered long-form. However, just because your article is long-form doesn't mean people will stay on it. Having a solid intro and compelling proposition will increase the chances that people will stay and read more.

Besides quantity, quality matters too. If the user reads the first two paragraphs (or sentences!) of your content and they're dissatisfied, they will leave your page. This behavior will hurt your rankings. Give readers more reasons to stay by having well-researched articles that link to trustworthy authority sources. Also, make sure you provide a reader-friendly experience. Don't have walls of text on your page—instead, break your article into easily digestible paragraphs and have headers for each significant transition.

Do Not Neglect User Experience

Besides using headings and subheadings, you can also implement other things to ensure that your readers have a positive user experience. Here are things that produce good UX: 

  • Formatting with bullets and lists  Especially in lengthier content, bullets and lists are a welcome break for readers. Those in a hurry can also go straight to these items so they can get the most out of your article.
  • Decreasing the page load time – Don't let your page load for more than five seconds. Websites with the best rankings typically load within three seconds or less. Page load times affect UX, especially for people browsing on mobile phones.
  • Checking browser compatibility – Google Chrome is not the only browser people use to access your website. Test compatibility with Safari, Firefox, and Opera as well.
  • Ensuring smooth navigation – Users who visit your website should find what they are looking for easily. Use a drop-down menu to organize your pages if you have a large website. People who browse your site should find what they are looking for in three clicks or fewer.
  • Putting mobile-friendliness first – All web pages need to have mobile-friendly versions today. You can check if your website helps people browse better using Google's mobile-friendly test.

Have a Strategy for Internal Links

Creating a journey through internal pages will help you keep people longer on your website. Don't let people read one article and then not go to other places on your site—study your pages and see which ones create a story when you link them with each other. When you capture a person's attention with one compelling article, linking them to a second, then a third, becomes easier. It is why we fall into YouTube or Wikipedia rabbit holes!


Good SEO takes time and a lot of testing. If you do not analyze your metrics, you miss out on being able to provide more value to your audience. Looking at your pages' numbers for dwell time, time on page and bounce rate will help you uncover meaningful trends that you could use for your growth.

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