Dwell Time and SEO

#Search & Strategy Blue Laser Design on August 6, 2018

Dwell time is no longer just a term for how long you sit on the couch binge watching Netflix. Dwell time falls in line with other SEO (search engine optimization) factors like bounce rate, pogo sticking, and UX (user experience). Lucky for you, our SEO Warrior Princess (we call her Nelly for short) is always up-to-date on website optimization and what Google wants to see on your website.

Terminology

There are a few key terms to understand when it comes to SEO. It’s best to pay attention as these will be on the quiz later:

Dwell Time

Dwell time is the amount of time each user spends on a webpage before returning to search results on Google (or other search engines).

Bounce Rate

Bounce rate is the percentage of people that visit your website and leave after viewing only one page.

Time-On-Site

It is just as it sounds. Time-on-site is the amount of time each visitor spends on your website.

Pogo Sticking

Pogo sticking is when someone clicks on a search result, very quickly clicks back to the search page, and clicks to another search result. Unlike bounce rate, pogo sticking is ALWAYS a bad thing.

What’s in it for Google?

Google is not a non-profit organization. Because most of Google’s revenue comes from ads, they can sell more ads to businesses if people return and continue to use Google as their main search engine. This all plays in to the websites Google displays as its search results. If users interact (remember dwell time, pogo sticking etc.) positively with the websites Google suggest for them, the more likely they are to come back and search again in the future. It’s a give and take relationship with them. If your business provides a great website experience for your customers, Google will reward you by showing your website more often because you are also making THEM money.

Should you pay attention to dwell time as a ranking factor?

Right about now you’re thinking, “That’s all well and good, but does dwell time REALLY impact my SEO position?” The answer is more complex than a simple yes or no. Because Google doesn’t like to give away all of its secrets, there are different schools of thought when it comes to factoring dwell time in your SEO efforts.

Pros for it being a ranking factor:

  • Indicative of a good user experience
  • Indicative of good website content
  • Indicative of a visitor’s likelihood to return
  • Potential for Google to sell remarketing ads to those businesses that want to target website visitors

Cons for it being a ranking factor:

  • Google does not disclose dwell time data; therefore, it can be hard to optimize for something we don’t know.
  • Does not work well for some circumstances (shopping searches, simple questions etc.). There is not a unified way to measure dwell time.
  • Correlation does not imply causation: dwell time might be good, but it could just be a byproduct of other ranking factors: well-written content with smart keyword placement, titles and descriptions that align with the content, good site structure and interlinking.

Converting Your Dwellers

User Experience (UX) will help convert the people that dwell on your website. All the SEO power in the world won’t help you if you don’t give your potential customers a good experience once they land on your site. Ideally, you want one of two things to happen: either users convert (call, fill out a form, shop etc.) or they click to go to another page on your site and convert from there. What makes for good UX? Things like clear call-to-actions, easy navigation, and good interlinking structure is a start.

What’s in it for you?

You can think of dwell time as the typical cashier response of “Did you find everything ok today?” at any retail store. If your visitors do find everything they need, they won’t need to leave your site, and if they do, they will eventually come back. Either result is good for your business.


Whether dwell time is a ranking factor for you or not, you should ALWAYS be focused on delivering the goods: design, UX, and content. Contact us today to find that perfect combination of important SEO factors to give your business a leg-up.