Dissecting dwell time for a better UX

How does dwell time affect your site metrics and search ranking? Keep users scrolling with our top tips for increasing dwell time.

dissecting dwell time for a better ux

When creating content, you’re often answering a question that your user is asking. It might be ‘best ranking of D&D classes’ or ‘Valorant lineup builder,’ but you can be sure that they’re coming to your site to find answers. New users will find your site through search engine queries, so if you can increase your ranking for the questions your site is attempting to answer, you can expand your audience and reach.

Dwell time is an undervalued metric for publishers. It measures how long a user remains (or dwells) on your site after finding it in search results. While it might not directly relate to search rankings, it can tell you a lot about how users navigate your site.

Isn’t dwell time the same thing as bounce rate?

Dwell time and bounce rate are linked, but are not the same. Bounce rate only measures users that click onto your site and immediately leave. It’s meant to show what percentage of site visitors aren’t engaging with your content in any meaningful way. It’s measured as a percentage of your page views, and typically a lower bounce rate means users are sticking around your site.

Dwell time specifically looks at how long a user is spending on your page before heading back to the search engine results page (SERP). If your users aren’t spending that much time on your page before clicking back, you’ll have a low dwell time. In a perfect publishing world, you’d want to have a low bounce rate and a high dwell time. This shows that users are interested in your content and are spending more time with your site.

So how can I keep users on my page for longer?

First off, you’ll need to calculate your dwell time before you can find how to improve it. There’s a great tutorial here that shows you a step-by-step process to calculating your dwell time through Google Analytics.

Now let’s look at the different pages on your site. What pages have longer session times from organic traffic? What’s special about those pages? When users come to your site, they’re looking for answers, but the UX and overall appearance of your site can keep them there for longer, or send them back to search. A big aspect of why users might turn tail and run for the hills is often ads. Is your ad stack intrusive or blocking navigation? We’ve written a blog about how to pick out the perfect ad placements for your site, find it here.

For more tips on running a successful site, check out our blog. We update it weekly with industry insights, programmatic explainers, and more. Want to join the Collective? You can apply here.