Why Dwell Time Will Help Your Ranking?

By 4min read

Dwell time is a metric that Google recognises that helps indicate how useful your website is.

Let me explain: I first encountered the term “dwell time” when I noticed problems with ranking in one of the blogs that I run for a client. Google had changed its algorithm and I was stuck knowing what to do next to try and move up the pages once more. To be frank, Google changes its algorithm very regularly but this time, Google had made some very strange (in my opinion) choices about who should rank first for the main keyword for this client. 

So on one day last June, not only did Google change its algorithm particularly against my client, but they also stopped my ads that had been running for 7 years! Never had the need for content that could be found be so important.

I felt desperate, I felt that I had reached my limit of knowledge so I starting asking around. I spoke to one experienced SEOer and he mentioned dwell time for the first time. Google dwell time, he explained, is the length of time that people spend reading your content. This seemed to be such an obvious metric that I had not really considered before. Of course Google will see this as important.

My experienced SEOer had a team of people that spent time on each page of content that they wrote for clients. This in turn, along with correct SEO setup, helped improve rankings and they had hundreds of clients as proof. This seemed to be an obvious solution to me.

I then went online to see if others agreed with his assessment and found one of my SEO heroes has written a blog post all about it. He in turn, had noted some comments by Bing personnel (Bing use dwell time in their algorithm): 

google dwell time

Joshua Hardwick then goes onto to explain that in his opinion, a minimum of 2 minutes upwards is a positive help to a page of content. Obviously the longer the better.

Just in case you are wondering, the Dwell time is different to Bounce rate. Dwell time is recorded when a person reads a page and then goes back to the Google listing to seek out more additional information about the same topic. Or, clicks on a link from your page to another of your pages to read more. In otherwords, they find your blog very interesting.

A bounce rate is where only one page is read . This one page only is counted whether a page is read or closed. But this in itself can be a confusing metric as some really good quality pages can have high bounce rates.

Google don’t actually confirm or deny that they use the time that a person spends on a website as a ranking sign. However, Google’s Machine Learning Algorithm (Rank Brain) does rank the dwell time as very important.

How to Help Increase Your Dwell Time on Google?

The first step is to produce high quality content. This is expected from all writers but some still do this better than others.

Brian Dean promotes the PPT Formula so that the visitor is encouraged to read through the whole article. This is not that much different from speaking aloud to someone about a topic. Firstly you briefly introduce the topic about to be discussed (Preview), then move onto the content to back up your topic (Proof) and then expand (transition) on your proof. This formula is known as the PPT formula. Importantly, by having the brief preview, visitors can quickly ascertain what the topic is about.

Some tips for writing to improve your visitor experience:

Brief introduction: just a sentence 

Proof: Break content into smaller paragraphs that are easy to read. In the UK, the average reading age is around 11 years old so short sentences with easy explanations help to make text readable.

Lots of images to break up the text or as many as can find that are relevant. Yes, I know. I need to get more!

Links, appropriately, to encourage people to spend more time on your site and read more of your content.

A short video to help explain a point that you have made encourages dwell time too.

Brian Dean also adds a “Learn More” section where he adds links to other pieces of his content – this is placed at the bottom of the page.

To improve dwell time, it is important to focus on improving a visitor experience and providing great, well-written content. To do this in your best way means to totally understand your customer so that you write as if you are speaking directly to them.

Importantly, dwell time is just another important factor that you need to think about. Along with page speed, backlinks and correct SEO on your page, if you focus on providing an experience for your reader that makes them want to “dwell”, then you will in time be rewarded with higher rankings.


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  • Abdul majid
    January 14, 2020

    Thanks for sharing will definitely apply this to my blog

  • Chris
    January 14, 2020

    Love the article Catherine and all the actionable advice sprinkled inside. Brian definitely knows what he’s talking about, and he’s one of the people I follow for SEO advice.