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Dwell Time

What is dwell time in SEO?

Dwell time is the metric that shows the time a user spends browsing a page after clicking a link on a SERP and before they come back to search results again[1].

Important: Don’t confuse the term with time on page, session duration, or bounce rate metrics from Google Analytics.

  • Time on page shows how long a user spends on a page before moving anywhere else. Unlike with dwell time, users come to a page not necessarily from SERP and then move not necessarily back to it).
  • Session duration is the time from visitors’ landing on your site to the moment they exit or remain inactive for a specific time span.
  • Bounce rate shows the percentage of visitors that take no further action after landing on a page.

Is dwell time a ranking factor?

Officially, dwell time is NOT a ranking factor[2]. However, indirectly, it serves as an indicator of how well your content responds to users’ search intent. So, it’s a great engagement metric. 

Short dwell times show that your content doesn’t meet user intent and is generally not satisfying. And long dwell times mean you meet users’ needs with your content.

Whether we want it or not, dwell time may potentially affect how high webpages are ranked by search engines.

What is the average dwell time?

According to HubSpot, the industry benchmark for average dwell time is considered somewhere between 2-4 minutes[3]. However, it’s not advisable to rely on this number too much – the time will vary depending on the niche, type of page (product page vs. blog post), its length (long-read vs., short essays), and user intent.

How to calculate dwell time

Dwell time calculation is, so to speak, impossible – search engines simply don’t provide such data. You won’t find it in Google Analytics or elsewhere. 

However, you can take a look at the average session duration for the organic traffic segment. Thus, you will get an approximate estimation of your dwell time. 

For that, In Google Analytics go to Behavior > Site Content > Landing Pages and add a segment Organic Traffic:

adding new segment in a dashboard of Google Analytics

Now check average session duration metrics for your whole site and separately for each page[3].

Google Analytics' landing Pages report

How to improve dwell time

So that a user wants to stay longer on your pages, you may consider improving several things. 

Base your content strategy on user intent

If you give users what they want, they will never dump your page too soon. That’s why it’s important to plan and optimize your content accordingly. For example, if the keyword you want to rank for is “best smartphones 2023”, you need to create a blog post, a listicle to be precise. A product page won’t work. 

Make sure your titles correspond to the content inside

Clickbaiting is bad practice. If you promise something in a title and then speak about slightly or completely different things, that’s a turnover for your users. If you do not disclose the claimed topic, the dwell time will be short. 

So make your snippet in the search result as relevant to the content as possible. For that, write the proper title tags and meta descriptions

Write longer pieces of content

That’s obvious, the more content visitors have to process, the longer they stay on a page. However, opt for longer content unless it harms quality. 

Take care of page speed

The better the user experience is, the longer they’ll dwell on a page. That’s why make sure you optimize your Core Web Vitals.

Make your texts appealing

The more appealing a text is, the more willingly people dive into it. Here are a dozen ways to make your text so. Here are a couple of them:

  • Mention the target audience in the intro for better engagement. 
  • Add infographics, images, gifs, and videos to keep their attention longer.
  • Structure text with subheadings, paragraphs, bulleted and numbered lists to make it more digestible.

User Behavior in SEO: A Ranking Factor or Not? 

14 Advanced SEO Techniques & Tips to Boost Search Traffic 

How to Track SEO Results: KPIs & Tools to Measure SEO Performance 

On-Page SEO Guide: from Ranking Factors to Content Optimization 

3 Google Analytics Tips You Should Know