What is Dwell Time? What effect does user presence time have on SEO?

A user stays on the page from the moment they click on one of the search results until it re-enters the Google search results page. This time is currently considered as one of the factors of Google to determine user satisfaction.

When you cross the street and suddenly your eyes hit a billboard, how long does it take to absorb its content? 2 seconds, 10 seconds or 1 minute?

The amount of time you spend on the billboard advertising message is known in the advertising industry as Dwell Time. It is interesting to know that this concept does not exist only in the world of advertising and is also used in the world of SEO.

Suppose you want to read a series of articles about site optimization to understand what the word SEO itself means to Iranian and foreign experts. To do this, do a Google search for “what is SEO”.

By clicking on any of the links on the first page, Google, like a psychologist, takes your behavior under a magnifying glass and has a unique impression for each. You may experience one of the following modes once you log in to one of these sites:

1- What you saw on the page does not match what you were looking for

As a result, you immediately return to the Google results page and select another site or search for the same phrase on Google again, this will tell Google that you were not satisfied with the content provided.

2- You will receive your answer very quickly and you will return to the search results page

You probably do not choose another site and search for a new phrase in Google based on the response received. Although you spent a little time on this site, but it seems that you got your answer well, so this quick exit will not be a negative event for Google.

3- The content of the page is very useful in your opinion and you spend a lot of time reading it

In this case, the ranking algorithm
Understands that, if the user has spent a lot of time on this page, the content of that page probably meets his needs well and is valuable content. As a result, this page may have a much better position in future searches.


What is Dwell Time?

Dwell Time is calculated from the moment the user enters your site until he or she returns to Google and selects another result or searches for a new term.

The longer a user’s Dwell Time is on a site page, the more satisfied Google is with that page.

Internet studies have shown that the average user time for valuable pages is 3 minutes and 10 seconds. This means that when a user finds a valuable result on Google, they will not need to search for another phrase related to that topic for at least 3 minutes.

The use of retention time as a benchmark for site rankings was first suggested by Duane Forester, webmaster of the Bing search service.

Mr. Forrester says of this concept:

“It only takes a few seconds for a user to enter your site and then return to the results page, but this short time is a valuable metric so that the search engine can understand the content of your site. Your ultimate goal should be to use different methods and keep the user on your site. “If you do not do it well, the search results page will be the user’s next destination.”


What is the difference between retention time and bounce rate?

Although each of these two criteria is very different from each other, in most cases, they are used interchangeably. Let us first define the jump rate correctly.

When a user opens your site page and leaves without doing anything else, he or she is actually bouncing off your site. The ratio of the number of users leaving the page with the total number of users entering the page is called the Bounce Rate. To learn more about bounce rates, we recommend the article What is a Bounce Rate?

The bounce rate is calculated when you leave the site without any useful activity; It does not matter if you return to the Google results page or another page on the Internet after leaving.

As you can see, the main difference is in the results page or SERP. This means that if the user returns to the results page, Dwell Time is calculated. If the user’s time on your page is less than 20 seconds, it has also happened according to Google Bounce, which can be a negative factor for your site. But if the user is on your site for more than 20 seconds and returns to the search results, it does not mean that he is not satisfied with your content.

The user may close the page immediately after entering your site and leave it, but also return to the Google search page and do not do a new search, in this case, even though he has bounced from your site as a negative factor from Google It will not be because the user did not need to search for that phrase again.


Is the Bounce Rate always considered a negative factor?

You may have heard a lot that the higher the bounce rate of your site, it means that your site can not meet the needs of the user well and gets a low ranking in Google results. It is true? Well, not everything is that simple; The fact is that the high bounce rate in many cases alone can not prove that a site is not good. Let us illustrate everything like a day with a simple example.

Imagine you want to get the phone number of a cafe in the north of Tehran. After searching, you will enter a site that shows you a list of cafes in the north of Tehran. Quickly find the phone number of the cafe you want and leave the site immediately. Now do you think this high bounce rate could mean that you could not make the user happy?

Here we must say that the bounce rate of a site depends a lot on the concept of search (Search Intent); Jumping from a site can not be considered a negative signal if the user wants to find simple and trivial topics such as the date of an event or finding the details of a place.

In other words, it can be said that only under certain conditions can the high bounce rate on the site be considered a negative criterion. But when it comes to Dwell Time, we can talk about its impact with more certainty, because when a user returns to the results page after entering a site, they are more likely to be dissatisfied with its content.

If you look at the Google Analytics tool, you will see that the bounce rate of your site is visible. If there is no information about those who returned to the results page after entering the site.

One thing that may come to mind is; Do not display Dwell Time in this tool because this criterion has no effect on ranking sites. But is that really the case?


Is Dwell Time effective in SEO?

At present, Google has not published any official and reliable information about the impact of Dwell Time on SEO, so we can not say very clearly that the time interval between entering the site and returning to the results page, according to Google is an effective measure in determining your site ranking Is.

Some SEOs believe that Dwell Time is a ranking criterion, but others believe that this cannot be fully proven. John Mueller, Google Webmaster, says:

“When we talk about algorithms and metrics that influence site rankings, we have to make sure there is no doubt about it. When a user returns to the results page immediately after entering a site, there may be many reasons. “So just saying that this return was just a matter of dissatisfaction may not be a correct interpretation.”

One logical way to prove the importance of Dwell Time in SEO is to use the clues provided by Google to clear up our ambiguities. But what exactly do we mean by clues?

Do a Google search for “site design” and then log in to one of the sites. After the page is fully loaded, return to the Google results page, here you will see that Google shows you a series of suggested phrases related to site design under the site you clicked on. Like the photo below:

Now if you stay on a site longer, Google will no longer show you this suggestion box. Of course, sometimes it is seen that even after a long time, Google still offers these offers to the user. But in most cases this only happens after the user quickly returns to the results page.

What do we draw from the comparison of these two cases?

Google understands well that there is a difference between users who return to the results page faster and those who return to the page after a few minutes. It is Google’s understanding that brings you back to new phrases that come in handy.


How to increase the retention time on the site?

To increase user retention time on the site, it is best not to look at it from a webmaster’s perspective; An alternative solution that works best for you is to put yourself in the place of the user who enters your site. What content would you like to see on this site? Now collect your answers and put them all on your site.

The answer to this question is simple when you look at your site through the eyes of a user. The most important factors that make users no longer think of leaving your site are:

1- Use attractive content such as videos and entertaining infographics

According to surveys, 43% of users prefer access to video content to reading an article or downloading an e-book. Using video content on the site increases the user time on the page by up to 10 minutes. This statistic shows that the winner is in the hands of attractive video content.

2- Using comment marketing, invite users to participate more in your site

What do you do when you see an article that has a lot of comments? Most of the time you look at user comments; This increases the user’s time on the site. (To learn more about comment marketing and video marketing techniques, you can participate in a workshop on professional SEO techniques.)

3- Your site should be well optimized for mobile users

With the advent of new algorithms such as Mobile First Index, a good user experience in the mobile version has become one of the most important and effective principles in ranking sites. If you want to win the battlefield of SEO, you must prioritize a good user experience in the mobile version of your site.

4. Use pop-ups wisely

We all know that just one annoying pop-up is enough for a user to leave your site as soon as they log in. In fact, pop-up ads alone can set your site on fire. So it is better to plan ahead to use them.

5- Take the design and user experience of your site seriously

While new technologies such as Google AMP emphasize content quality, we recommend that you take your site’s UI and UX more seriously. The reason is simple; When you have a good site in terms of appearance and structure, you encourage visitors to spend more time on your website.

Concluding remarks

From the information we have provided in this article, we can conclude that Dwell Time is one of the factors on which Google has invested heavily. Why? Because this criterion is directly related to user satisfaction and user satisfaction is always the first and last goal of Google algorithms
have been.

In order for your goal to be in line with Google’s goal, you must first make sure that users enjoy your site and can interact well with its content. This is where metrics like Dwell Time and Site Bounce Rate can show you, like a compass, whether you are on the right track.

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