Apr 4, 2022

Dwell Time in SEO: What is it & How to Improve it?

Suman Samal, Asst. Marketing Manager
Suman Samal
Dwell Time in SEO: What is it & How to Improve it?
Suman Samal, Asst. Marketing Manager
Suman Samal
Apr 4, 2022

Dwell Time in SEO: What is it & How to Improve it?

Have you heard about Dwell time in SEO? Read this article to find out about its importance and how to increase the dwell time of a web page for better engagement.
Dwell Time in SEO: What is it & How to Improve it?

Table of contents

While investing in SEO is unquestionably a wise decision, you will only realize the benefits of that investment if you practice smart SEO. How can you be sure you're doing everything correctly?

Metrics are the answer. Measuring the performance of your SEO initiatives reveals where you're going wrong or well, allowing you to fine-tune your optimization efforts as needed.

When we talk of metrics, we usually concentrate on demographics. We ask who is visiting your site, where they are located, and what their interests are. These assist marketers in making informed decisions about campaigns suited to their customers' interests.

When looking at SEO analytics, one metric to look at is dwell time. Dwell time is a measure that appears on many different search engine results pages (SERPs). It's time you spent reading those result pages before returning to Google to look for other pages.

In this guide, we will break down the Dwell time and highlight its importance in SEO.

What is Dwell Time?

Dwell time is the period of time between when a user clicks on a search result and when they return to the search engine results pages (SERPs). It's a measure of a user's dwell time ‚Äď how long they spend on a page, starting and finishing with the SERPs.¬†

The importance of this metric to a search engine should be self-evident: the longer time you spend consuming the content of a website you clicked to visit, the more likely that page suits your demands.

It's crucial to understand that dwell time and bounce rate are different. Bounce rate is what happens when a user clicks on one page and then departs the site nearly instantly.

To be considered dwell time, the user must first click on a page from the SERP, stay for a while, and then either return to the SERP or exit the page.

Is Dwell Time a Ranking Signal?

For years, SEOs have disputed whether or not search engines employ dwell time as a ranking signal. Although Google is notoriously tight-lipped about any specific metric that appears in its algorithms, the inclusion (and subsequent removal) of a specific feature in Google shows that dwell time is a ranking factor.

On the other hand, Bing considers the dwell time a major ranking signal.

Why is Dwell Time Important?

While dwell time is widely assumed to play a factor in Google rankings, the search engine giant has been tight-lipped about the subject. When you look at a Google Analytics dashboard, you'll see that time on page and bounce rate are important metrics.

However, dwell time isn't listed as a measure.

Google has never made an official comment about how and if dwell time affects rankings. Having said that, there have been suggestions that it is being considered.

Nick Frost, the head of Google Brain, was cited as saying during a conference:

“Google is now integrating machine learning into [the process of figuring out what the relationship between a search and the best page for that search is]. So then training models on when someone clicks on a page and stays on that page, when they go back, or when they are trying to figure out exactly that relationship."

What is not a Dwell Time?

There are a lot of misconceptions about dwell time out there. Dwell time is sometimes mistaken with other entirely different metrics.

Please keep in mind that dwell time is a metric utilized by the search engine. While it may be confusing with many metrics, it is not the same.

Dwell Time is not the same as Bounce Rate

A bounce occurs when a visitor reads only one page before leaving your site.

As a result, your bounce rate is the percentage of single-page sessions divided by the total number of sessions on your website (or an individual page).

Who are those individuals who bounce? They are not all derived from a SERP.

Even if some of the bouncers arrived at your site via a SERP, that doesn't mean they returned to that SERP. They could have exited the page or gone to another website.

Dwell Time is not the same as Session Duration

The session duration metric tracks how long a user spends on your website.

If a user's session did not start with a search, it cannot possibly end on the same search results page. Thus, it cannot be considered synonymous with Dwell Time.

Dwell Time is not the same as Click-Through Rate

The percentage of visitors that clicked on the link to your webpage from the total number of users who viewed that SERP is your organic search click-through rate.

This is frequently misunderstood or conflated with dwell time. However, this isn't the case.

Dwell time relates to what happens after a user clicks, not to the number of users who click.

Dwell Time is not the same as Average Page Time

Dwell time and average time on the page have been used interchangeably in the past.

However, the average time on a page is just the average amount of time someone spends on one of your sites.

That user could have arrived at that page via social media, a link on another website, an email, or another means.

How to Calculate Dwell Time?

Dwell time can be calculated using the Google Analytics dashboard.

Dwell time may not be the same as session duration, but you can find your dwell time in Google Analytics by looking at "Average Session Duration,". 

It informs you how long visitors spend on a website on average.

It's calculated by dividing the total duration of all sessions (or visits) by the total number of sessions.

When a person visits a website, a session begins. The session expires after 30 minutes of inactivity or when the user departs. The inactivity cut-off exists so that you may get an accurate summary of your stats without inflating them artificially.

This metric has already been calculated for you and is displayed in minutes and seconds in Google Analytics.

Here's how to find the dwell time using Google Analytics:

  • Go to your Google Analytics account and log in.
  • Choose "Behavior" from the drop-down menu.
  • Go to "Site Content" and select it.
  • Choose "Landing Pages" from the drop-down menu.
  • Create a "New Segment" and tell it to only show "Organic Traffic."
  • The metric "Avg. Session Duration" will appear after that.

Using this metric, you can now find if the dwell time needs improvement.

How to Increase Dwell Time?

A low dwell time indicates that when a person types a query on Google and then visits your site, he is unsatisfied with what he discovers there ‚Äď it didn't match what he was seeking or didn't deliver the complete answer he required. Here is how you can improve dwell time:

Use longer and quality content

It seems reasonable to assume that if you add more content to the website, visitors will have to spend more time reading it. 

As a result, the amount of time spent on a page in SEO grows. While it may seem self-evident, the value of long-form content has only recently become generally recognized. To be called long-form, a piece of content must typically be at least 2,000 words long.

Of course, it's not just about the quantity. Quality is also important. Your user will rapidly click away after reading one or two pages of poor content. As a result, your search engine rankings may suffer.

Want to create long-form content? Our Scalenut SEO Assistant will help you write long-form blog posts in no time.

All you need is to enter your primary keyword and the tool will find the suggestions from the top-ranking pages. The Scalenut tool suggests the word count, readability level and the use of relevant terms that help with search relevancy.

Keep user experience a priority

The user experience could be a big factor in a low dwell time because readers who aren't impressed with the above-the-fold UX won't stay long.

It's also important to consider the content. If your introduction is confusing or doesn't get to the point quickly enough, you may have a low dwell time. Alternatively, it's possible that your material doesn't correspond to the user's goal.

Examine other high-ranking articles in the SERPs to gain a better understanding of why this reader is looking for this information.

Other factors to make the page user friendly are:

  • Scannable content: To make information scannable, use headers and subheadings, as well as bullets, lists, and brief paragraphs.
  • Maintain a load time of less than five seconds: The fastest-loading Google sites often take three seconds or less to load.
  • Browser compatibility: Run your site through Safari, Firefox, Chrome, and Opera to see whether it works.
  • Navigation: Clear navigation bars will make it easier for users to find what they're looking for. If you have a large website with many pages, a drop-down menu may be preferred.
  • Clean code: The backend is where a great user experience begins. The mark-up must be valid and the coding must be clean.
  • Design mobile-friendly pages: Every website should have a mobile-friendly version as well. You can use Google's mobile-friendly test to verify if a page is good enough on mobile devices.

Do not forget internal linking

Because dwell time is calculated as the time it takes between arriving at a page and returning to the SERPs, it makes sense to present visitors with additional actions to complete once they've finished reading your content, thereby preempting a possible second query or answering another question.

As a result, the visitor has a better user experience, which is why internal linking is so vital.

Internal linking is, of course, critical to optimizing SEO. Your site may get a boost in the rankings if it has a solid and logical internal linking strategy, since search engine spiders may be able to completely index the rest of your site.

Use multimedia elements

Many readers may become bored from reading too much text, so consider breaking up the page with embedded movies, podcasts, photos, and other multimedia features to keep your readers engaged.

Along with increasing dwell time, incorporating these features on your page may improve traffic to other types of content produced by your brand. For example, including a YouTube video on your blog may enhance the views of your YouTube channel.

Engage users with comment sections

Comment sections offer engaged users the opportunity to share their opinions and ask questions, which then opens up a dialogue with other readers. Not only does this help increase dwell time on your content, but it can also encourage customers to leave reviews or recommend your product or service to their friends.

Increase your page speed and keep it clean

Slow loading time is a big impediment to high dwell time ‚Äď if your website takes too long to load, viewers will most likely leave.

Furthermore, as readers navigate down your page, if they notice that the graphics aren't loading properly or that the experience is uninteresting, they may choose to exit the page.

This means that having clean code and adhering to SEO (Search Engine Optimization) best practices for a speedy load time (such as compressing pictures and caching web pages) is crucial to increasing dwell time.

Ensure that the page loads quickly and efficiently on all browsers and devices. A solid mobile experience is essential here because a shorter dwell time on mobile contributes to a shorter overall dwell time.

Focus on improving user engagement

Internal links to other articles and pages, as well as engagement strategies such as content recommendations, might urge your visitors to stay on your site for a longer period of time.

By recommending relevant articles to your readers, you provide them with a strong reason to stay on your site.

When used appropriately, this strategy can be extremely powerful, and the more closely connected the recommended articles are to the piece of information the viewer is watching, the more likely they are to stay on your site by clicking through.


Q. What is poor dwell time?

Ans: As a general rule, a poor Dwell time is somewhere less or equal to 30 seconds.

Q. What is a good dwell time?

Ans: A good Dwell time has a session duration of two minutes or more.

Q. Why does dwell time matter for SEO?

Ans: Dwell time can be used to determine how long a specific web page caters to the interests of visitors. It serves as a gauge for the quality and relevance of your page's content. The more time people spend on your website before returning to the SERPs, the more value your website provides to online users.

Q. Is dwell time the same as bounce rate?

Ans: Both these terms might be confusing but they have different definitions. The bounce rate is the percentage of single-page sessions on a website. The bounce rate might be caused by a person returning to the SERPs or closing the page. Dwell time is the time period between when a user clicks on a search result and when they return to the search engine results pages.

Q. Is dwell time important for a website and SEO?

Ans: Yes, Dwell time may not be a direct ranking factor but it affects the number of users visiting your website.


Whether or not dwell time is a ranking signal, increasing the length of time visitors spend on your site while decreasing your bounce rate can only be a good thing. You can make your pages stickier, give a more interesting experience for your visitors, and maybe enhance conversions by following these actionable tips.

In the end, if you need help with content writing, Scalenut is your best bet. You can start with Scalenut for absolutely no cost and create quality content.

Suman Samal
Asst. Marketing Manager
ABout the AUTHOR
Suman Samal
Asst. Marketing Manager

Suman Samal is a Asst. Marketing Manager at Scalenut. She is a technology enthusiast with a keen interest in content marketing and SEO. She truly believes that with the right set of tools every organization can improve the ROI of their content marketing campaigns. She spends her time managing content operations at Scalenut and ensuring that everything we publish is of the highest quality.

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