Dwell Time: The Most Ignored (But Important) SEO Metric (Explained)

By: | May 8, 2018 | Tags: , |

What is Dwell Time?

What is Dwell Time?

Dwell time is one of the latest metrics to be introduced by Google, and it’s very misunderstood. To understand how Dwell Time came to be, we need first to dive into Google’s algorithm and look at how it works.

In days past, Google’s algorithm was easy to fool. If you wanted your website to rank, all you had to do was stuff your meta description and article full of keywords. It didn’t matter how out of place they sounded, or unreadable your actual content was.

If the algorithm picked up the right amount of keywords on your page, then you were in the clear and could quickly rank.

The past few years have seen an unprecedented development in the realm of artificial intelligence, however. Google’s AI algorithm (aka Rank Brain) is no exception. It’s smart now, and it wants to see only the best of content.

Brian Dean in his latest guide about Rank Brain SEO visualized the working in an easy-to-understand way.

So, this is what used to happen before artificial intelligence popped in.

Dwell Time What is Dwell time?

Source: Backlinko.com

And now, along with Human Engineers, Rank Brain continue to analyze the results and do its thing in the background.

Source: Backlinko.com

As a result, instead of just having to impress a few visitors, we need to impress a supercomputer. Such is life.

What is Dwell Time?

Now you’re asking the right questions. Dwell Time is a combination of a few factors:

  1. Session time
  2. Bounce rate
  3. Click-through rate

It’s also important to understand that because Dwell Time is a very recent site metric, there haven’t been extensive studies done on it. There could very well be more hidden factors that go into this metric. In general, however, these three seem to have the most effect.

If you’re scoring high in all three of these areas, then the chances are that you have a high Dwell Time rating. Let’s do a quick review of what those three metrics are and how you can change them.

Session Time

Session time is a metric which measures the duration that a visitor spends on your web page. If you have a blog with quality content, then your session time is going to rank well so long as you provide readable content.

On the other hand, if you have a clickbait article that people land on, and quickly leave or just skim through, the chances are that your web page will have a low session duration metric.

As far as Google is concerned, a session duration that lasts longer than two minutes is considered good, and a duration lasting up to five minutes is excellent.

If you’re not providing content that keeps viewers informed and entertained for at least two or three minutes, you need to rewrite or add on to your low-ranking pages.

Bounce Rate

Bounce rate is a percentage that is based on how many people redirect away from your site after clicking only one link.

For instance, let’s say that you’re looking to deliver flowers to somebody.

You google, ‘best flowers in town,’ and click on a link that offers a nice delivery service. You read the page but quickly go back to your search results. You just “bounced.”

To lower the bounce rate, you want to provide content that entices readers. You want your visitors to click the link to your page, and then explore your website even more. If you have a good navigation bar set up, and some promoted posts, then you’re on your way to having a lower bounce rate.

Click-Through Rate (CTR)

This metric measures the rate of people who are searching for a particular topic or keyword, and “click-through” to your page. If you want to have a high CTR, then you want to make your search engine appearance appealing.

If you’re searching for ‘flower delivery,’ are you going to click the link that has a friendly title and a concise, simple description, or are you going to click the link with no title, and no description? The answer should be obvious.

This result isn’t very descriptive at all. There is nothing to draw in visitors.

Dwell Time What is Dwell Time?

Now take a look at the result below. Notice the description and care they took to entice their visitors.

What is Dwell Time?

If you want to boost your CTR, then you need to first appear on search engines. That means ranking for keywords. So make sure you research high-converting and commonly searched keywords, and use them on your page.

Secondly, you need to need to have enticing titles that make people want to click.

Last, but not least, you need to have a brief, well-written Meta description: Something that’s no longer than two or three lines, and can be easily read and understood. The more people who are clicking your link in their results will lead you to have a higher CTR.

How Do I Boost My Dwell Time?

When thinking about Dwell Time, you need to put yourself in another person’s shoes. Put yourself in the position of somebody who is searching for something and wants nothing more than to find a well-written, helpful, and informative page.

Google’s algorithm is just interpreting the desires of the masses. It utilizes all of these smaller metrics to create a Dwell Time, which is essentially a measurement of how long people “dwell” on your page.

It’s the algorithm’s way of figuring out if people enjoy the page. People tend to dwell longer on pages that they like and find helpful.

So, if you want to boost your Dwell Time rankings, the best thing that you can do is make your website more user-friendly. Give people a reason to stay, and to explore deeper.

If they’re just there to order flowers, make sure they see a link to a post about the “history of flowers,” or “the best flowers to get your Valentine.” Entice them.

What is Dwell Time?

Put time and energy into researching your keywords. Try to get into your visitors’ heads. Make sure that when they’re looking for something, that all of the keywords that they’re looking for are found on your page.

The best thing that you can do for the long-term success of your website is to write good content. 90% of websites today have horrible content.

It’s hard to read, poorly written, and uninformative. Nobody ever bookmarks these sites. They’re visited once and quickly forgotten.

You need to make a site that everybody wants to visit. Write content that inspires people, interests them, and makes them share it with their friends. If you do this, you can’t go wrong.

Remember that search engine ranking can take some time, so don’t get discouraged if you don’t see immediate results. If you exercise constant vigilance and attention to detail, results will come.

Final Words

Understanding and working on Dwell Time can give you an edge over your competitors. Especially in cases when you both rank on the first page and want to dominate the top position.

Although we tried our level-best to explain the topic, there are some hidden parameters which aren’t well known to anyone except Google. Only experimenting and continuously working will reveal those secrets to know what Google expects from us.

Feel free to comment below if you have any more doubts or would like to pitch some suggestions. And do share this post on social channels.

Author Bio: Shafi Khan is the guy behind BlogCharge.com. With a keen interest in SEO and Blogging, he strives to help you start and grow your own online business and ditch the typical 9-5 lifestyle. If you liked this post, make sure to befriend him on Twitter or visit his site.
Readers, please share so other bloggers learn about Dwell Time and how they can get readers to “dwell” longer on their sites.
Author: Shafi Khan


Additional Information about How to Optimize for Dwell Time

    • Shafi Khan

      Hi Kavi,

      What’s the one thing you’re having issues following? Let me know and I’ll try to solve your query.

      – Shafi Khan

  1. Jeanette S. Hall

    People have to be able to find your site, before there is ANY chance of dwelling! Users are still not finding my site. Have to resolve that issue before I worry about anything else, in my opinion.

    Thanks for the help so in the future I will know how to try to improve the dwell time on my site!

    • Shafi Khan

      Hi Jeanette,

      I agree that getting traffic is the first part and worrying about dwell time second.

      But I’m sure you must have some sort of traffic coming daily and you want them to stick around, spend more time, share your articles, and what not. This is actually how you’ll get more traffic and visitors.

      Let me know if you’ve any questions for me and I’ll be glad to answer them.

      – Shafi Khan

    • Enstine Muki

      Hey Jeanette,
      I want to quickly drop a reply on your comment.
      As a matter of fact, the more people dwell, the higher your chances of being found. If people find you but don’t dwell, trust me Google will hate your content and take you off SERP.

      Rankbrain is Google’s brain in understanding searchers intent. Dwelling tells Google “This is awesome” and the more Google gets this signal from many different searchers, the more you gain position and exposure.

      In my opinion, worry about dwelling first.

      Imagine inviting people to an untidy home. They will jump out so quickly and will never return. Be sure to get your site ready to retain visitors before even trying to get them.

      Just my thoughts

  2. Shafi Khan

    To Janice,

    Thanks a lot for hosting me on your super amazing blog. I couldn’t believe I actually manage to get here.

    I’ve been a big fan of your blog from a long time and seeing myself as a guest author boosts me up.

    I hope the article will help the blog readers and everyone will take one or more tips from it.

    If you’ve any queries related to Dwell time or SEO in general, do let me know and I’ll come back to you.

    Thanks again Janice. Keep up the great work.

  3. Enstine Muki

    Hi Shafi and Janice,
    This article comes at the point I just posted on my blog on Meta Description and how it affects SEO. Some of the factors I mentioned are Dwell Time, Pogo Sticking, Bounce Rate, etc.

    Dwell Time is very important. On the other hand, high Bounce rate doesn’t necessarily mean your site is bad. High Bounce rate and High Dwell Time could mean you have a single page site that is so useful.

    As you know, bounce rate is the percentage of readers who do not click any link to other pages on your site. They leave by clicking the back button (Which may result to pogo sticking) or simply closing your window or tab completely, or opening another url in the address bar.

    You also brought some helpful points to increase Dwell time. As a matter of fact, it’s a whole book to write 😉 But briefly, we should get a premium theme with welcoming features. Avoid free stuffs, use professional images and fonts, make sure our site loads fast, avoid annoying popups, write attractive introductions, etc

    Nice topic bro. Hope you both are having fun

    ~ Enstine

    • Shafi Khan

      Hi Enstine,

      Great reply. I agree that Bounce Rate and Dwell Time are two different topics and should be treated differently. But, both have some correlation.

      If you focus on one thing, it will automatically help you with other.

      And thanks for sharing more suggestions to control the dwell time.

      Have a good day.

      ~ Shafi

  4. Ryan Biddulph

    Really good stuff Shafi 😉 I’m getting my metrics down a little bit more these days; all about being aware of how to keep folks on my site, and goading them to click through. For me, helping readers by sharing targeted content and building bonds through genuine blog commenting and guest posting are 2 ways to keep folks on my site, to increase clicks and to improve my dwell time metrics. Sticking to the basics, right?


    • Shafi Khan

      Hi Ryan,

      Engaging and high-quality article is the first step which brings the visitors to your site and hook ’em up.

      Blog commenting is another smart way to connect with like-minded people and get more exposure.

      I have been following you since years and appreciate your blog commenting skills. Great job there!

      Have a great day and thanks for appreciation.

      ~ Shafi Khan

  5. Pixelllo


    Really Informative, This could be a game changer for sure, Many bloggers should worry about their contents right now.

    Thank You,

    • Shafi Khan

      Agreed Pixello. Content is the king and it always will be.

      No site is good without engaging and meaningful content.

  6. Digital Marketing Course

    Thanks for such a relevant information. This blog will really help every digital marketer at the beginner level and we can also consider Local visibility in SEO metric

    If your business has one or more physical locations that local customers can visit directly, it’s very important that you keep track of your local visibility.

    Specifically, is your site appearing in the local 3-pack for keywords related to your niche? Is it appearing when people type the name of your town or city plus the name of your industry? If not, it’s time to work on some local SEO.

  7. Aspirebee

    Dwell Time should increase scope for good bloggers who write info rich contents. Mostly we get some junk laggy contents on blogs.

    • Janice Wald

      Hi Aspirebee,
      I agree. Hopefully, the Dwell Time pressure will entice bloggers to have more quality content on their blogs.

  8. Dexter Roona

    Hi Janice and Shafi.
    You covered Dwell Time well. I also wrote an article on this subject just a few weeks ago so I know what it takes to put great content like yours out there.
    I am sharing this post to all my social channels, expect to see some notifications 😉

    Regards Dexter

    • Janice Wald

      Hi Dexter,
      I appreciate the shares as well as this comment. Thank you for calling my content “great.” Truly appreciated. I’m glad you enjoyed the Dwell Time article.

  9. Samuel Johnson

    Opps i never knew click through rate and bounce rate mattered when it comes to rankings, guess i have to look for ways to keep visitors on my site a bit more longer. Thanks for sharing.

  10. Anand Badola

    Hey Janice,

    I have seen many videos on youtube about dwell time. You are correct, it is a big deal and no one really talks about it.

    Awesome Article. Keep up the good work

  11. Ajish Cheriyan

    HI, I think most of the sites do produce contents in bulk so they lack quality in the process.
    Bloggers should be careful before creating the next one

  12. Praveen Rathour

    Thanks for your Giving Information about Dwell time and its importance. I didn’t knew about it. I am here First time, and I have read First time about Dwell Time. Thanks for your teaching and Post about it . it is useful for me as i new in seo field

    • Janice Wald

      Hi Praveen,
      The term “Dwell Time” sounds complex, but it’s really not. The point is to get people to dwell, or spend time on, your blog.
      How? use GiFs, screenshots, images, videos, internal links, in-depth text… anything that will keep people “dwelling” on your blog. Thanks for blogging. Welcome to my blog and the world of SEO!

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