Dwell time is one of the most important and at the same time least known site metrics. Many marketers spend most of their time on “time on site” when evaluating traffic, but this metric is unreliable and can sometimes mislead them. So what is Dwell Time? Do search engines use it? Is this a ranking factor? If so, how can you influence it? In this article, we will discuss all these issues.

A Brief History of Dwell Time

We get this information when we look at the meaning of Dwell. Dwell as a verb means to dwell in a certain place or to think, speak, or write about a particular subject, especially one that is a source of unhappiness, anxiety, or dissatisfaction. As a noun, dwell means a continuous small stop in the movement of a car. In order not to get into trouble in this article, we try to mention more synonyms of this word.

Duane Forrester, in an article he wrote when he was working as a webmaster at Bing about creating quality content, says:

“While it may seem like you put all your heart and soul into producing quality content for your site, quality is in the eye of the beholder, and short dwell times on pages can indicate that your content is engaging.” It doesn’t attract… if your content doesn’t encourage them to stay with you, they will leave. Search engines can figure this out by looking at Dwell Time.

Since I’ve worked with search engines (Bing), I’ve spent a lot of time with search engine engineers and spam teams. As an SEO professional, you can imagine how interesting it can be to get logical (and sometimes illogical) answers to the questions I have from the search engine management team. Dwell Time was one concept that made a lot of sense to me when it was explained, and it was clear that such a metric can be very important in determining how satisfied a searcher is.”

What is Dwell Time?

Dwell time, in simple words, is the time a person spends looking at a web page after clicking on one of the results on the search results page and before pressing the back button to return to the search results page. You have done this many times. This is the brief moment you evaluate the web page you clicked on to view. This page either immediately gave you the answer you wanted or it was so bad that you immediately hit the back button.

The value of this metric to search engines is clear; The more time you spend using the content of the page you clicked on, the more likely it is that the page will meet your needs. Certainly, this issue is generally agreed upon; Because we can find a series of counter-scenarios in this theory, but on a large scale, this logic can be true. Of course, the opposite can also be broadly true, the less time you spend on a page, the less satisfied you will be.

However, if you want to know the weather, a glance at the screen may do the trick. In situations like this, a metric built on Dwell Time should be able to account for this: short time = satisfaction.

So you see this concept can’t be applied so easily to everyone, but it is a metric that has been used and has varying levels of value applied to rankings. The importance of this metric is relative and should be considered as a combination of different factors, so tracking downtime is not a good use of your time.

Focusing on improving the broader areas of a website that increase user engagement is well worth it. Downtime may increase as a result of these activities, but they shouldn’t be your only focus or reason for doing something.

What is Dwell Time not?!

There is an incredible amount of misinformation in the internet world about downtime. Many times, downtime is confused with other very different metrics. So before we go any further, let’s have a few clarifications about what downtime isn’t. Remember that dwell time is a metric used within search engines. This is what this article focuses on, when a user clicks on a result and how long they stay on that page before returning to the results page.

Dwell Time is not the bounce rate

A bounce occurs when a person visits only one page and leaves the site. Therefore, your bounce rate is a percentage of single-page sessions divided by all sessions on your site (or an individual page).

Not all bouncers return to the search results page. Even if a series of bouncers landed on your site through a result on the search results page, it doesn’t mean they necessarily returned to the search results page. They may have closed the page or gone directly to another site.

Dwell Time is not the average time spent on the screen

Dwell time is also often used instead of average time on the page. Although average time on a page is the amount of time a person spends on one of your pages on average. This user may have reached this page through social networks, a link on another web page, an email, or another source.

Dwell Time is not session duration

How about the session duration? This has nothing to do with the stop time. The session time metric measures the amount of time each person spends on your site. If a user’s session did not start with a search, they definitely cannot return to the same search results page.

Dwell Time is not CTR

Your organic click-through rate is the percentage of people who clicked on your web page link divided by the number of people who saw the link on the search results page. This is often confused with downtime, which it shouldn’t be. Dwell time only cares about what happens after the click, not the percentage of people who click.

It’s not time to stop RankBrain

This is perhaps one of the most surprising misunderstandings that still exist in the SEO world about downtime. To put it simply, RankBrain uses old search data to make predictions about old unseen queries. RankBrain gets data from users’ interactions with the search engine, not how they interact with a piece of content.

Don’t you think this is exactly the opposite of the concept of downtime? We think so! Another thing that is not to stop time is a publicly available metric that can be measured by third-party tools. Only search engines have access to downtime. We hope that by the end of this section, we all know equally what is and what is not a stop time.

Is user downtime a ranking signal?

The question of whether dwell time is used by search engines as a ranking signal has been debated by SEO experts around the world for years. Although Google is tight-lipped about any specific metrics it uses in its algorithms, the introduction of a specific feature in Google suggests that downtime is a ranking factor. That feature is the option to block all results from a specific domain.

The consensus among SEOs is that Google has specified whether or not to give the option to block a domain from the search results page based on downtime. Of course, the exact answer remains a mystery to this day, but it seems that a short dwell time allows the visitor to block the domain, and the result is a better user experience (Google’s main goal).

Another indicator of Google’s attention to downtime as a ranking signal is the “More by” feature on the search results page. This feature is closely related to Authorship. Authoritative content producers who publish articles with long dwell times appear to have higher positions on the search results page and more More By links below the main search result.

Although authorship is still an important social signal, both the “More By” and domain-blocking features have been abandoned by Google, which is a real shame given their utility.

Regardless, don’t forget Forster’s words in his post that it’s time to stop making conclusions about the quality and relevance of a page’s content to the user. Many times we don’t get such a clear indication that a search engine is focusing on a certain metric to change its algorithm. Whether or not the stop time is a rating signal remains unanswered for now, but most people think it is.

When does downtime become a visit?

Technically, each click counts as a visit, but let’s be honest, not all visits are created equal. You alone know which version of the metrics is most important to your business, but it can be said that for almost all businesses, a visit of less than a second is far from ideal.

At the very least, it can be said that all businesses want people to spend more time than one second on their site. Your analytics package may differ in how you track these, but it’s great to see visits categorized by how long the visitor has been interacting with you.

If you’ve optimized your conversion path, you’ll know roughly what the average time it takes for a transaction is, and you can easily map out what a valuable visit looks like. There are many ways to do this, and regardless of the way you go about it, it will be worth it.

How can you influence the downtime?

What we are trying to say is to focus on improving the overall user experience and providing useful content on your pages. Still, making your videos scroll down when a user visits your site? Well, users don’t like that. Don’t bury the answers to the questions at the bottom of the page under a giant header image. Make sure your content is clear and easy to find so that the first thing users see when they land on your page is your content.

Have you ever wondered why Google and Bing have “Above the Fold” guidance and no pop-ups and the like? Part of the reason for creating this guide was to improve the user experience. Search engines know that if a searcher lands on a page listed on the search results page and then returns to the search results page almost immediately, there is a good chance that the searcher will blame the search engine. If this pattern is repeated too many times, it will cause the user to get tired of the search engine, so this is a pattern that search engines try to avoid from happening.

How to increase user downtime?

1- Produce better content

The first and most obvious suggestion to you to increase the downtime can be to produce better content. After all, no one is going to spend more time on your page if your content isn’t valuable, right?

Whether you’re producing a blog post, infographic, or video, great content should:

  • be practical (practical or educational)
  • be fun (funny, unusual, surprising)
  • be accessible

The better your content, the more likely it is that visitors will stay on the page, resulting in increased dwell time.

2- Use strong and logical internal linking

Since downtime is the length of time it takes to land on a page and return to the search results page, it makes sense to offer users additional activities to do when they’re done reading your content, especially when that additional activity can also help with a possible secondary query or answering another question. The result is a better user experience for the visitor, which is why internal linking is so important.

Of course, internal linking is very important to maximize SEO. Without strong and logical internal linking, your site may struggle to rank because search engine spiders may not be able to properly index your entire site.

3- Use more interaction tactics

Just as internal links to other articles and pages can encourage your visitors to stay longer on your site, engaging techniques such as content suggestions can do the same.

By offering relevant articles to your readers, you give them a powerful reason to stay on your site. This tactic can be very effective when implemented correctly, and the more relevant the suggested articles are to the content that the user is viewing, the more likely they are to click on the article and spend more time on it. Your site will spend more time. If a visitor can learn about another topic of interest without having to return to the search results page, why should they leave the site?

4- Page design without scrolling

Another technique you can use to increase dwell time is to introduce a non-scrolling design to your web pages.

Although pages that take forever to scroll can be a great user experience, they can hurt your SEO if not implemented correctly. This is because search engine bots are stupid and cannot always understand user behavior, such as clicking or scrolling.

Fortunately, there is a good solution in this area that does not involve a lot of work. To help search engine bots fully index the content of a scrollable page, the page should be separated into paginated sections. Each section has the same <title> tag, along with the “rel=next” and “rel=prev” values declared in the <head> tag.

5- Use the PPT formula

If you want people to spend more time on your site, you need to hook them in the right way. This is where the PPT formula comes in. It’s a proven content promotion formula specifically designed to increase downtime. This formula looks like this.

The first line of your content should be a summary preview of the content. This preview tells Google searchers that your content is exactly what they are looking for.

6- Include videos

Embedding videos can significantly increase your downtime. Wistia Blog increased their dwell time by 260% by adding video to their content!

There are several different ways to embed videos on pages. First, you can use a video in place of textual content. For example, if you put a video of 1 minute and 13 seconds in the text, if someone watches the whole video, at the same time, 1 minute will be added to the stop time. You can also implement related videos.

7- Communication and comments

One of the Google employees said somewhere that the community can help the ranking a lot. Is community a direct ranking signal? Or does having an active community indirectly help you rank better? They did not answer this question. In any case, from experience, having a community will improve your downtime. First of all, comments are content that people want to read. Also, people who leave comments will spend extra time on the page, which will increase your average dwell time.

8- Improving page speed

It’s no secret that people are impatient in today’s online world, and if your site takes too long to load, people will leave before they’ve even read the first word. That’s why you need to make sure your important pages are all optimized for page speed. Page speed is a proven direct ranking signal and affects whether or not your visitors stay. That’s why doing whatever you can to improve your loading speed can be a smart move.

9- Segment your content

Comments like this are sometimes seen in some posts: “I read the article to the last word, it was great” Is this because the author is a great writer? Not necessarily. It is probably because he made his content as easy to read as possible.

Especially if it has fragmented its content. Use H2 subheadings to separate each topic into spaced sections. Use bolts to make information easier to read. Use lots of images and screenshots. Images not only help people analyze content but also break content into smaller pieces.

10- Optimization for mobile

This seems simple, but pay attention; If your site is hard to use, people won’t stay. Unfortunately, many sites are still not optimized for mobile. To know if your page is optimized for mobile devices, you should visit Google Search Console. Click on Mobile Usability.

This section tells you which pages of your site, according to Google, have a bad user experience on mobiles. You will also get information about where the problem is and how you can solve it.

Stop time measurement

How to measure user downtime?

No downtime reports in Google Analytics or Google Search Console. However; Google Analytics tells you the average session time of the site. This is the average amount of time a person spends on your site after landing on a page, which is roughly close to downtime. to do this:

Log in to Google Analytics.

Click Behavior, then Site Content, then Landing Pages.

Create a taxonomy that focuses only on organic traffic.

By following these steps, you can see how much time Google searchers spend on each page of your site. What can be done with this information?

First, you can see which pages are working well and apply the same to other pages. You can also improve pages that have bad downtime.

What is a good stopping time?

The short answer to this question is, it depends. The long answer to this question is that a good downtime depends on dozens of factors, including:

  • Your niche
  • Content model
  • The search query used by people to find your page
  • Seasonal trends
  • other things

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