Have you ever heard of Dwell time? You may have heard of this term but may not be as familiar with it as say someone working in the SEO realm.
In its most basic form, Dwell time is the length of time a person spends looking at a webpage. We can add the more complex variant after they have clicked a link on the search engine results page but before clicking back to the other result options.
We have all experienced this as the moment when you evaluate the webpage is what you had intended or not. Most likely it either solved the question you searched or missed the mark causing the back button to be clicked immediately.
The Value of Dwell Time
The value of dwell time to your search engine breaks down as; the more time you spend consuming the content of a page, the higher the probability that page addressed your query. This is an oversimplification but is worth mentioning the opposite is true as well; the less time you spend on that page, the less likely the information was what you were hoping to find.
Remember most websites don’t require academic level reading. If you search the score from last night’s basketball game, a glance at the page may be all that is needed. In that instance, evaluating dwell time should scale correctly: minimal time on the page equals success.
Now you are starting to see why the term creates debate on importance. We would recommend larger scale improvements for a website that increases user engagement. Dwell time may increase as a result of that update, but not the sole factor in evaluating web-page success.
Keep in mind, dwell time is not a bounce rate and is not the average time spent on the page. The key differentiating factor here is the search engine element to the page and return to the search engine upon exit. Bounce rate is when one page is viewed then the user leaves that page. Could be exiting the search all together or navigating anywhere else outside the search engine results page.
Ok, now we understand what dwell rate is, you may want to calculate this on your own or with a third-party tool. Unfortunately, you cannot. Only the search engines have access to dwell time. So how do I know I am optimizing the experience? Well, we have some recommendations for you.
- No auto-play videos.
- Content should be easy to find. Ensure your site is mobile-friendly.
- Imagery is great but if it inhibits the visitor experience patience runs thin.
Keep in mind this is what the search engines are looking for optimized user experience and happy users. Why would a user select a certain search engine if it fails to deliver quick and effective results?