What is Dwell Time & How to Increase Dwell Time in 2023?


What actually is Dwell Time?

So many marketers are confused about dwell time. What is dwell time? Does it impact search ranking? How to influence it? How search engines use it?

Marketers who know about dwell time overlook the importance dwell time has. 

I will try to answer all of these questions in this article. 

What is Dwell Time?

Dwell time is the amount of time a user spends on a page once they have clicked a link on the search engine results page before going back to the SERPs. Dwell time metrics help webmasters to understand how their web pages are satisfying the need of their users. The longer the dwell time, the better. 


Let me explain this with an example

I search for ‘digital marketing project ideas’

I click the first result from upGrad. 

I like the content, so I spend 6 minutes 10 seconds reading the blog. And I want to learn more about the topic, so I go back to Google SERP and click another listing. 

So, my dwell time on the page was 6 minutes and 10 seconds. 

Here, this means the content is good. If the dwell time was 10 seconds, the content is not answering your question. 

Difference Between Dwell Time and Bounce Rate

Don’t get confused between dwell time and bounce rate. Even though they sound similar, they are not. 

Bounce happens when the user views only one web page of yours and bounce back. 

No matter how long they stay on the website, we call it bounce. They may go back to SERP or they may simply close your website. 

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Difference Between Dwell Time & Time on Page

Time on page means how long a user stays on your web page before going anywhere – it can be anywhere – to another page, SERP, another website, etc. And the user could have came from anywhere – referral link, social media link, email link, etc. 

But dwell time specially calculates how long a user stays on your webpage before going back to SERP.

Why Should You Take Dwell Time Serious

We have evidence that Bing uses dwell time as a ranking factor. We don’t know for sure that if Google also considers Dwell time as a ranking factor. But we SEO guys have experience in & mastered the art of finding clues from everything. 

Back in 2017, Mike Kilinski released an audio clip of Nick Frost, Head Google Brain confirming pogosticking part of Google Brain search algorithm. 

Part of the transcript:

So when search was invented, like when Google was invented many years ago, they wrote heuristics that had figure out what the relationship between a search and the best page for that search was. And those heuristics worked pretty well and continue to work pretty well.

But Google is now integrating machine learning into that process. So then training models on when someone clicks on a page and stays on that page, when they go back or when they and trying to figure out exactly on that relationship.

It is obvious that RankBrain calculates how long a user spends on a page. Google definitely would want to satisfy its searchers by offering the best websites on top. 

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How to Calculate Dwell Time?

If you are wondering what is the dwell time of my website on Google Analytics, just look at the ‘Average Session Duration,’ which will show you how long users stay on your website on average. You can calculate the average session duration by measuring the total duration of a visit or all sessions in seconds and then dividing it by the total number of sessions.

Each session starts when a user visits the website and ends after the user leaves or after 30 minutes of inactivity, whichever comes first. The inactivity metric helps generate an accurate report without false inflation. You will find the average session duration has already been calculated by Google when you check out your Google Analytics homepage. It will be mentioned in minutes and seconds. 

If you want to understand what is dwell time for a particular landing page, then on your Google Analytics account, move to the left side of the screen and click on ‘Behaviour’ > ‘Site Content > ‘Landing Page.’ You will now be able to see the dwell time of that individual page as the average session duration.

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 Average Session Duration ≠ Dwell Time

The two are not the same. Average session duration measures the duration of someone’s visit to the page after being redirected by a link, a social media page, or another landing page. Dwell Time is obtained if the visitor has landed on the page from SERPs. Thus, Average session duration can depict the dwell time, but not just that.

So how can you figure out the what is the dwell time in this scenario? You simply need to add a segment – ‘Organic Traffic,’ on average session duration to make sure only the landing page metrics depending on the SERPs, are displayed.

If you check the metrics using average session duration, you will be able to understand which landing pages perform well and which ones need further improvements or optimization.

What is the Average Dwell Time on Websites?

The minimum time it takes for a visitor to explore a website and its layout is 2 to 4 minutes. Thus the industry average dwell time is regarded as 2 to 4 minutes. 

If you want to determine the industry standard for Google Analytics to look for benchmark metrics, then go to ‘Audience’ and on the left side of the screen, click on ‘Benchmarking,’ and select the industry standard you want to see – whether across channels, devices, or location. 

Looking at all the metrics to understand how your website performs overall is always a good idea. It is rare to see the average session duration exceed 10 minutes or below 1 minute. Therefore, you should aim for the average industry standard of 2 to 4 minutes. 

Another thing to look out for is your ranking on the SERP. If you rank high on SERPs, but your website is not offering valuable information to the visitor, then your SEO is great, but your session duration is underperforming. That is why it is important to optimize the entire website. To offer a holistic experience to the audience, improve everything, from the UX to the content you post.

How to Improve Dwell Time?

Well, now you know what is dwell time exactly and how important it is. So, what are all you can do to improve the dwell time of your website? 

Create Quality Content

Nothing beats it. Internet is filled with content but quality content is a handful. Of course, content with more than 2000 words work better most of the time. But here, am talking about creating right, relevant content which solves users’ query without confusing them. 

Don’t use bigger words and lengthy sentences. Use simple words and short paragraphs as we are not in the age of reading as most of us just scan the content and try to find the answers easily.  If suitable, consider creating pageless scrolling. 

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Add Video(s)

This is an era of videos. Videos are dominating the internet so add relevant videos to the web page (and make sure the videos are not too long as people don’t really prefer long videos). 

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Increase your website speed

47% of users leave your website if it takes more than 2 seconds to load. So, work on increase your website speed. Remove unnecessary elements that are dragging down the speed.

Add relevant internal linking

By adding relevant internal links on your page increases the time spent by users on your website. Modern websites are trying everything to keep the user once they landed on their pages. 

Work on overall user experience

Decrease the number of pop-up windows. Give enough whitespace between lines. Make the paragraphs shorter. Don’t bury the answers deep down. Avoid adding auto-roll videos when a user visits your website. Once you design your web page, ask yourself how are you liking the web page as a user. Improve your mobile optimization. 

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The optimization you do to increase your dwell time will not just improve your dwell time but also the entire user experience. You are not doing it for search engine ranking but also for better conversions. 

Dwell time is Google’s one of the god-knows-how-many ranking factors. (Do you still believe it’s still 200?) When you work on improving user experience, presenting the best, relevant result in the SERP, Google will identify and reward the #1 spot. 

If you are interested to learn about digital marketing, upGrad is a great place to start your digital marketing journey.

upGrad’s digital marketing course duration is 6.5 months. The course is fragmented into various modules consisting of theory, case studies, and live industry projects on topics like SEO, SEM, social media/content/email marketing, marketing analytics, campaign management, and marketing strategy, among other things.

The upGrad and MICA PG Certification in Digital Marketing & Communication course take on a holistic approach to digital marketing. By the time you finish with us, one thing is for sure – your horizon of knowledge will expand significantly and you’ll learn to think and act like a true digital marketer. With so many perks and benefits, why should you go someplace else?

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