When you come to a decision to become an online authority, you need to convince others of your expertise. And to do this, you need to offer quality content that will not only be optimized and fluent but also informative and useful. Trust me when I say – both people and search engines know the difference. That is why the average session duration on a web page is such an important element in SEO. This particular factor also falls under a larger term known as Dwell Time. Today, we learn more about just how important dwell time is for moving company SEO efforts.

Start with the basics – what is Dwell Time?

Dwell Time is the amount of time a person spends on a web page before going back to the search engine results page (SERP). It offers a valuable insight into just how long a particular web page was of interest to visitors. Thus, it’s importance is all the mover higher. Typing in the term itself into search engines, you will come across many definitions, most of which are directly associated with digital marketing and the one I noted here. However, I simplified the term here, whereas you can come across expert definitions as well:

"Dwell time is a user-based metric that combines the user’s engagement, session duration, and SERP click through rate. "
The definition is slightly more complex when spoken through SEO.

However, I feel that I should mention right from the start that Dwell Time is not the same as Average Session Duration. Instead, it presents a combination of elements:

  • Time users spent on your website
  • Session Duration
  • SERP
  • CTR
  • Bounce Rate
  • Exit Click, etc.

Hence, it is not something that one can clearly define or measure. And Google, Bing, and other search engines are not as willing to make such data public. Therefore, you can measure each of the above-mentioned elements through Google Analytics and other SEO tools and then draw conclusions from there.

Why is Dwell Time so important?

For many people in the SEO community, this particular topic is a sore spot. It’s a topic that has been trending for a while, without any real clarification about it. People still don’t grasp the full extent of it what the ideal dwell time is in the eyes of search engine algorithms. There is currently no guide that can better explain to beginner’s in SEO what to aim for when it comes to this factor. Even SEO tools such as Search Console don’t measure it (yet).

So, to answer the question of importance plainly – user experience. The amount of time a person spends dwelling on a page can tell you a lot about the user experience your web page offers. However, in case of issues and low track time, you need to guess why it’s happening.

  • Is your loading page time bad?
  • Does the design of the page draw people away?
  • Is the content informative and useful right from the start?
  • Are you spamming visitors with other elements (pop-ups, CTAs, forms, etc.)?

These are all potential scenarios that can drop your dwell time and lead users back to SERP. So, in order to make it all a bit clearer, we’ll go through the following concepts as they are essential for grasping this topic:

  • Exit Rate
  • Bounce Rate
  • Time on Page
Google Console metrics - essential for calculating Dwell Time
There might not be a tool that will calculate it for you, but there are tools that you can use to draw your conclusions.

Exit Rate

The Exit Rate is an important metric as it counts the number of times visitors left your website from a specific page. You calculate the rate as number of exits / number of page views. And you can calculate it separately for each page. This rate helps you determine how often people exit a page after visiting it. The reason why it is as important for the purposes of Dwell Time is because of the percentage it offers. It helps you learn just how many people have left a certain page, thus bringing you closer to determining the dwell time.

Bounce Rate

In addition to learning how many people leave your website, you should also know how many don’t go past the first page they come to. And that is exactly what the bounce rate it all about. The Bounce Rate portrays the number of visitors that left your website without going that first page they explored.

Time on Page

The Time on Page metric exemplifies the average amount of time visitors spend on a specific page. Based on it, you can get a general idea of whether users spent time reading/interacting with your content or just scrolling through it. And this is an essential part of Dwell Time, as it includes Click-Through Rate (CTR), user engagement, and time on page. So, knowing the duration of each session is a great help in getting accurate data.

But is it important for ranking?

Search engines have a goal to offer users satisfaction when it comes to their queries. The ideal scenario is to have us find exactly what we’re looking for the first time we click on a result. For that to happen, the content has to match the topic and fulfill all the necessary criteria. That way, we won’t need to go back to SERP but rather get our answers right then and there. And this should be your goal as well, no matter the type of work you do or the products/services/guidance you offer.

General conclusions when it comes to Dwell Time calculation

  • Just like a well-written text is not the same as a well-written and fully optimized one, such is the case with dwell time and the metrics we noted above.
  • Bounce Rate can be good and bad. If someone clicks on your page only to return back to SERP in a matter of seconds, that is a bad bounce rate.
  • The main difference between Exit Rate and Bounce Rate is that exits refer to users going through more than a single page on your website before returning to SERP.
  • Only by combining all these metrics can you really get an idea of how much time people spend dwelling on your website.
  • Dwell Time is a ranking factor for search engines and one that is essential for the betterment of your website, user experience, and the growth of your online presence.

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