What is Dwell time and why it matters for SEO?

What is Dwell time and why it matters for SEO?

Before we continue with the topic today if we take a step back and look at what the word “dwell” means in the dictionary — The dictionary meaning of dwell is — live in or at a specified place.

What is Dwell time in SEO world?

Dwell time is the amount of time a user spends on a web page before going to the search results again.

So now it is evident that why dwell metrics are important for the search engine, suppose you have searched a word, and Google has given you several results, and you clicked one of them and realized that the content of the page does not satisfy your need. In such a case, then you either close the tab or go back to the search results page(SERP). Dwell time is the metric the search engines need to determine the relevance of the web page. 

So dwell time becomes the essential factor in the SEO world and a critical metric for determining searcher’s satisfaction.

Dwell time determines that the amount of time you have spent on the page with the content it provided has a very high probability that it satisfied your need. This implies that this page is similarly satisfying the same kind of visitors. The inverse of this, if people are spending less time on the page, the content is either irrelevant to the user or the content is poor. But it is a metric that’s used and would hold a value applied to rankings at some level.

Misconceptions around dwell time

Now let us understand what some of the misconceptions around dwell time are?

Dwell time is not the same as the bounce rate (Bounce rate -> the percentage of visitors who enter the site and then leave rather than continuing to view other pages within the same site Wikipedia.

Dwell time is not the average time on page (Average time on page is simply the average amount of time all users spend on a single page).

Dwell time is not session time (session time comes into picture when you log in to some website rather than landing on it due to search result).

Dwell time is not click-through rate. (Click through rate is the percentage of people clicked on the link in the search results upon the no of people saw that link in the search results).

Dwell time is also not RankBrain (you can see about RankBrain here).

How to improve our dwell time

Now the question arises how can we improve our dwell time?

Let us keep this very short and straightforward. In this context, there are many things that we can do to improve user dwell time.

Improve User Experience

  • Providing an excellent user experience
  • Design It should be crisp and resonates with your target audience. Simple backgrounds, plenty of white space as well as clear and easy-to-read fonts are your friend.
  • Layout — Design and layout go hand in hand. Make sure your content takes center stage and is easy to consume. Your content can be great, but the presentation also plays a critical role.
  • Mobile optimization — Nothing is worse than an unresponsive website. It’s just not acceptable in today’s Internet. Mobile-friendliness is a great factor nowadays. see here
  • Ads and popups — While popups can be absolutely essential in building an email list, they can also be annoying as heck. Same for ads. That’s also why Chrome will begin blocking them if they are too intrusive and Google started penalizing ads last year. When using either, make sure they don’t interfere with the user experience. 

Cater the User Needs Perfectly

Now that you learned about user experience now it’s time for the content.

  • Understand your users — Get into your audience’s heads and understand what they are looking for and give it to them. Doing market research for your website will help with that.
  • Write longer content — Long-form content outperforms shorter pieces by a long shot. Longer posts allow readers to dive deeper into a topic and answer more of your readers’ questions. 
  • Target the right keywords — The keywords in your title and description should be promising about what your content is going to be about. 
  • Keep your content up to date — Stale content is one of the best ways to move away from your visitors. There’s nothing more disappointing than clicking through to an article and realizing it’s horribly out of date. I would personally avoid going to a page that is last updated 2 years ago.
  • Interact with your audience through comment sections — the most important conversation happens in the comment section. If people interact with your articles, the worst you can do is ignore them. When you interact with them, it’s also a reason to come back to your site.


Now that you are clear about dwell time. In broader terms, every click is a visit, but not all visits can be ranked equally.

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