2019 Growing Ranking Factors: Dwell Time

Over the next week or so I am going to do a series of posts on some factors that seem to be growing in importance in the SEO world. We should try to pay more attention to these factors in 2019, when we can, to improve our positioning and success. Dwell time is a somewhat confusing term that is hard to pin down, but is believed by many to be very important to the Google algorithm. Google has this information but doesn’t necessarily share it. In general, it is the time from when the user clicks your search result and goes to your site until they return to make another search. It is a measure of whether you held their attention and solved their problem. Now, like with any ranking factor these days, it is all relative and depends on the specific search, so your overall site duration isn’t necessarily your dwell time, as that is not all coming from search, and it is coming from many different searches.  A good explanation of dwell time can be found here.

Why Does Dwell Time Matter?

When you get straight to the basics, Google is in the business of providing the best answer to a users search.  If a user searches Google and then chooses your site, but then jumps right back on Google and searches again, that is a good sign that you didn’t provide the right answer. Dwell time is a mixture of your search result click-through rate, bounce rate, and time on site. This signal tells a lot about whether a searcher is satisfied with Google’s answer. This is the heart of what the algorithm is all about.  It may be a little bit more complicated than that, as we all know there are many other factors involved in ranking and getting a shot at that top page, to test the dwell time.  It should also be noted and considered that different questions might have different expected dwell times.  A quick question may not need a lot of dwell time to answer.  “What was the score of the Penguins game last night?” would have a vastly different dwell time than “How does macroeconomics work?”.  Some queries are just asking for long-form results, while others may not. At the same time, you would generally want to hold anyone’s interest and impress them with all your site has to offer.

How Can I Improve Dwell Time?

Content Is King on Paper for SEOSo once we get to the general idea that more dwell time is better, we ask how can our site or page, or even paragraph, improve dwell time. Well, once you get down to it, we circle back to the old SEO adage, “Content is King”. You need to have good, engaging content that not only answers the searcher’s question but does it in a way that is easy to find and engage with. Searchers want to find what they are looking for right away on your page. Especially when searching for what businesses have to offer. Few things cause quicker bounces than a wall of text with no clear direction of where the answer is.  With the algorithms focus on lengthening content in recent years, many sites have built out content just to have more words, and not to engage the user. Focus on good answers that are digestible and easy to find, and you will have more people engage with your site.  They may even decide they want more of what you are selling because it is packaged in a way they can consume it easily.  Work on good content and not just longer content.  Develop content for specific searches and uniquely provide the best solution.

Dwell Time is Complicated

Just like much of the SEO world, individual factors can seem quite complicated, but the basic holds true that good content should work well for you if you know the rules and how to make sure you are doing everything right. If you want to focus on your own work and let us take care of knowing the rules and keeping you moving forward and up the rankings, please give us a call for help.  We will design a plan just for you.

About the Author:

Jeremy Skillings
Jeremy Skillings has been helping small and mid sized businesses with search engine marketing since 2006 through his company, The SEO Helpdesk and You Can Be Found. As a google certified partner, regular attendee and former speaker at SMX Advanced, A+ BBB business, and all around good guy, Jeremy can help your business get found through search.

Leave A Comment