What is dwell time?
Dwell time measures the length of time a user spends on a page between when they click on a search result and when they return to the SERP or leave the site completely. Also commonly referred to as “time on page”, dwell time is an important user experience and engagement metric across different marketing strategies, as it serves to understand how satisfied users are with the information or features they encounter.
Why is dwell time important?
Dwell time is an important metric for website optimization and marketing, as it provides valuable insights into user behavior and engagement, which allows website owners and marketers to understand the average time users are spending on a page and whether the website content is meeting their expectations.
While it highly depends on the type of page and user intent, the benchmark for good dwell time is around 4 minutes. A longer dwell time generally indicates that users are engaging with the content on the site, whereas a lower dwell time may suggest they didn’t find the content useful or that the website is not user-friendly.
In theory, the longer the dwell time, the higher the resulting engagement rate. This means that the longer a user engages with your page, the higher the potential for conversion. Additionally, long dwell time can also increase the number of returning users and grow your brand loyalty.
Understanding dwell time also helps you identify problems on a page and make improvements that will help visitors stay longer. You can use this metric to identify which pages are performing better than others and identify site areas that can be optimized for user engagement.
Moreover, search engines use dwell time as a ranking factor to determine the relevance and quality of a website for certain queries, meaning that the more time users spend on your pages the higher your chances to rank on the SERP.
With the right dwell time tracking tools, you can determine how users are interacting with your website and adjust your marketing efforts accordingly - whether this is by improving the content on the page, the navigation and UX of the page, or working on better CTAs and other conversion points.
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Measuring dwell time
Tracking dwell time helps you to understand user behavior on your site. While there are many different aspects you could analyze, depending on your industry and KPIs, the following tips to measure and improve dwell time offer a great starting point:
Analyze the average dwell time This is a straightforward approach that only requires looking at average dwell time for each page on your website. By understanding which pages have high and low dwell times, you can determine which content is engaging users and which pages need improvement. Use this metric to help identify which pages are working, and what is it on each page that makes them unique in this regard.
Analyze outlier pages Once you have an average dwell time for each page, you can look at outliers – pages with abnormally high or low dwell times compared to the rest of your website. High dwell times indicate that people are engaging with that content, while low dwell times can point to areas that need improvement. Focus on what works on high-engagement pages, and explore how to transfer it to low-engagement ones.
Track user flows Tracking user flows allows you to see what pages users are visiting before and after a particular page with high dwell time, in order to understand why people are spending so much time on that specific page and what they’re looking for specifically. This data will enable you to analyze user behavior at a site level, rather than per page, and ensure that the navigation through the different areas matches user intent.
Dwell time tracking tools
There are many dwell time tracking tools available to help you understand how visitors interact with your website. Google Analytics is one of the most popular and it gives insights into user behavior and provides other metrics alongside dwell time (time on page) like pageviews, dwell times, bounce rates, and other engagement metrics.
If you’d rather avoid the learning curve and implementation hassle that comes with an external platform, Wix's website analytics allow you to measure web data such as dwell time within your site’s dashboard. Furthermore, you’ll be able to quickly implement any improvements to your website’s UX and track the impact on a broad range of metrics such as traffic, revenue, lead generation, geos, etc.
How to improve dwell time
Improving dwell time requires an in-depth understanding of user behavior and what content resonates with them. With that in mind, here are four steps to help increase dwell time for your entire site:
Improve page load times Long page loading times can lead to high bounce rates, so make sure your site runs quickly to keep visitors engaged. Focus on your website speed optimization and website performance to get this right.
Offer relevant and helpful content Make sure your website is providing the right kind of content to keep people on your page for longer. Are they getting the content they expect? If so, how can that content be improved to be more engaging, interactive and persuasive.
Improve the user experience Use effective design techniques and provide an easy-to-navigate layout to reduce confusion and make it easier for visitors to find what they’re looking for. Frustrated users won’t stay long on any page, which will result in a lower average dwell time, and will also be less likely to return to your site.
Use A/B testing Try out different content and design elements on your website to see what works best in terms of engagement. This will help you fine-tune your site to ensure it’s optimized for dwell time.
Dwell time and cybersecurity
Dwell time is also a key metric for cybersecurity, as it can help identify malicious activity on your website and alert you to any suspicious behavior. Being aware of your pages’ average dwell times will make it easier to detect threats that may have otherwise gone unnoticed, and rapidly take steps to protect yourself and visitors from cyber-attacks.
Additionally, dwell time tracking can be used to monitor user activity for compliance purposes and ensure that your website is meeting industry regulations and standards.