What is Dwell Time?

Adam Steele
Nov 19, 2021

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There are various SEO metrics Google and other search engines, like Bing and Yahoo, use to judge the authority and value of different websites, which in turn affects the rankings that website achieves on search engine results pages.

One important indicator showing how visitors interact with a website’s content is the amount of time they spend on a particular web page. This metric is known as dwell time.

This article takes an in-depth look at dwell time, why it’s an important metric, and what you can do to optimize your website for maximum dwell time.

What is Dwell Time?

Dwell time is the amount of time visitors spend on a web page before leaving the site. It’s important because it shows how long a visitor will interact with your website.

It’s useful to use dwell time, or the length of time spent on your site’s various web pages, as one of many performance indicators, which let you know how well your site is performing and whether or not you need to make changes to your website or content. Using dwell time builds on performance indicators, such as bounce rate and average session duration, because it provides more insight into the visitors to your site.

There is often confusion between SEO consultants on average session duration and average time on page, which are two metrics shown in Google analytics (below).

However, Google doesn’t have a separate dwell time metric, so SEO experts and webmasters can only speculate as to how dwell time is actually calculated and how it affects rankings.

Source: Analyticsedge

If a page on your site has a low dwell time metric, then it won’t matter about your site’s domain authority – the low dwell time indicates to Google that the content on the page isn’t providing any value, so it won’t rank well. It doesn’t matter if you’re an enterprise-level company or local business, you still need to bring value to your website visitors.

Why is Dwell Time Important?

Knowing the time users spend on different web pages on your site helps show what kind of content your target audience finds interesting.

By tracking how long people spend on your website, you’ll know if they find what they need as quickly as possible. If visitors spend a lot of time on a specific page, it means they found the content interesting enough to read through multiples pages of your site.

If visitors aren’t staying on a certain page for an extended period of time, this might be a sign that it doesn’t provide enough useful information or that it needs to be improved.

Dwell time is also an important metric for Google’s ranking algorithm when analyzing the value of different web pages. By showing how long visitors stay on different websites, Google can determine which pages are worthy of ranking higher in search results.

Dwell Time FAQ

What is a good dwell time?

A good dwell time is measured in seconds or minutes and depends on the relative competition of other pages in that niche.

Ideally, the longer someone stays on your website, the better. Google generally looks for a dwell time of at least fifteen seconds for finding pages valuable enough to rank more highly in search results.

However, fifteen seconds doesn’t mean that your site needs to be 100% unique or that you don’t need to make any changes. Google will consider any page with a longer stay time as having high engagement and ranking higher than it will pages with a shorter stay time.

Does dwell time affect SEO?

Yes, it does. As with bounce rate and average session duration, Google uses dwell time as an indicator of user engagement.

If your website’s performance is due to a lack of engagement, then increasing dwell time on pages with less relevant content won’t improve your dwell time. Also, suppose a page has a higher bounce rate or shorter than average session duration. In that case, increasing the dwell time will not necessarily have a direct impact on your ranking, because these other metrics are revealing the poor content fit of the particular web page.

How important is dwell time for SEO?

Dwell time is important for Google rankings and in other search engines. You should optimize your content for longer dwell time to make sure visitors are interacting with your website to the best of their ability. This means that Google will consider your site higher quality and relevant, which will directly impact how well you rank.

How do you calculate dwell time?

In Google Analytics, you can determine your dwell time by looking at “Average Session Duration”, which tells you how long visitors are staying on a website on average. It’s measured by the total duration of all sessions, or visits, in seconds, divided by the total number of sessions (source: Hubspot).

How to track dwell time

You can track dwell time across different devices. When someone visits your website with a smartphone or tablet, they’ll leave more quickly than if they use a desktop computer. This is because the bigger screen size laptops and desktops allow people to interact with your site more easily. If you want to measure how well your website performs across all devices, you should use an analytics tool that tracks dwell time for each device separately. Webtrekk is one example of an analytics tool that does this.

Don’t forget: check out the other definitions (over 200) in our growing SEO glossary.


Hopefully, this article has given you a better understanding of dwell time.

Understanding Google’s ranking factors is essential if you hope to create a website that can perform well in search engines. Dwell time is one such important ranking signal, and writing long-form, high-quality content with internal linking optimization is one way to improve your website’s average dwell time.

If you’d like to ask us any other SEO-related questions or get an SEO report for your website please contact us straight away or take a look at our SEO packages.

Hand off the toughest tasks in SEO, PPC, and content without compromising quality

Explore Services

Written by Adam Steele on November 19, 2021

COO and Product Director at Loganix. Recovering SEO, now focused on the understanding how Loganix can make the work-lives of SEO and agency folks more enjoyable, and profitable. Writing from beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia.