what is dwell time & why it matters

Important Metric to Track: Dwell Time in SEO


Whenever we talk about metrics, we primarily focus on demographics. Asking questions like, Who’s looking at your site, where are they located, and what are their interests? I’m not saying that these metrics are not important. These interests help in making informed decisions on marketing campaigns tailored to customers. But we should add one to the list, Dwell Time. What is Dwell Time in SEO?

Dwell time is the metric that runs through various SERPs. Broadly speaking, dwell time begins and ends with the SERP.

What is Dwell Time?

Dwell time is the amount of time a user takes analyzing a web page before clicking back to the search results page. If a web page suffers from low dwell time, it likely means the page didn’t match the user’s search intent. To be correct here, analyze either the search queries or the competitor’s page.

Note that dwell time and bounce rate are two completely different things.

Bounce rate is what happens when a user clicks on one page, and then almost immediately leaves the site (without clicking anywhere else).

On the other hand, for it to be considered as dwell time, a user needs to click on a page through a SERP, interact a while, and then either click back to the SERP or otherwise exits the page.

Why is Dwell Time Important?

Essentially, dwell time metrics help marketers analyze whether their web pages are capturing the attention and needs of visitors or not. Further, carrying the potential to tell you what to include on web pages, and what to exclude from them.

It can also lead to improved UX (User Experience).

For example, if there’s a slow loading time on your web page, you will notice it in dwell time metrics. Since a user might exit if the page takes too long to load.

This metric contributes to important decisions you make for your site, among other metrics.

The Benchmarks

According to Google Analytics, “Average Session Duration” is a metric that tells you how long visitors are on a website/webpage on an average.

A session begins when a user visits a website. After 30 minutes of inactivity, or when the user leaves the site, the session ends. The inactivity cutoff exists so we could get an accurate report of your metrics without any untrue inflation.

You can find the Dwell metric already calculated for you in Google Analytics, displayed in minutes and seconds.

what is dwell time

But what’s a “GOOD” average session?

Try to target anywhere between 2–4 minutes. It’s also a common benchmark across most of the SMBs. Further, it usually takes around this time to explore a website and get a feel for the design.

Lastly, remember that dwell time doesn’t count from anywhere but the SERP, and that sessions end after 30 minutes of inactivity on that SERP.

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