How To Increase User Dwell Time And Improve SEO

Heather R. Huhman

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SEO is a difficult art to master. Each year, Moz analyzes 90 factors that can influence your page rankings. So we research keywords and spend hours upon hours link building. But none of that matters if people click on your page from a results page, look for a second, and then bounce back to the search results.

Dwell time, or the amount of time a user spends on your page after leaving the search engine, is a metric that signals to search engines how satisfied a user is with your page as an answer to their query. The longer they dwell on your page, the bigger influence on your page rankings.

Search engines can lead visitors to your page, but it’s your job to make them want to stay once they’re there. Here are four ways you can increase dwell time in order to help your page rankings:

1. Make relevancy a priority.

You might find a phrase that has a higher number of monthly searches and low competition, but if it’s only vaguely related to your actual content, Internet users will quickly head straight back to Google.

Instead of trying to shoehorn a keyword into your content, choose one that accurately reflects the information on the page. Fewer people might be searching for that term, but the ones who do will find your page more useful and spend more time looking at it.

The same goes for titles and meta descriptions. Nothing is more annoying than being drawn in by an attention-grabbing headline or a seemingly helpful meta description only to find the page is useless in answering your query. Using related secondary keywords may increase the chances of your page appearing in a search, but if the content doesn’t deliver on those phrases, it won’t help the searcher or your SEO.

2. Predict the next question for which a search engine user will need an answer.

How people search the Internet is changing. A 2015 survey by Blue Nile Research found that only 27 percent of searchers enter their query in the form of a question. This is because it’s rare nowadays for one question to be the full extent of a search.

If Bob types “best new laptop” into his search bar, chances are he doesn’t just want to know what the number one laptop is for the year. He wants to know what it costs, where he can buy it, reviews by other customers, and features that set it apart from other products. If he can find the answers to all these questions on one page, he can spend significant dwell time on that page without returning to the search engine.

When you’re creating content for your website, consider where a searcher will want to be led next and how you can give them the information. Relevant internal links are a simple way to encourage ongoing engagement with your domain. However, be sure to update them occasionally so they don’t lead visitors to pages that are old or no longer relevant to the source. 

3. Incorporate interactive content.

Sometimes a searcher can find all the information they need just by quickly skimming your page. While that’s great for them, it means their dwell time on your page is on the shorter side. Making content more involved and engaging, however, keeps searchers around longer.

For example, instead of just listing all your products and services on one page, also include a quiz designed at showing potential customers which option is best for them. This requires more time from the searcher, but still gives them an individualized answer to their search.

Videos are also a good way to keep Internet users’ attention longer. A video can provide all the information of text, but is more visual and less easy to skim through. 

4. Improve your user experience.

The highest quality and most informative content in the world means nothing if your user experience sucks. If your site is difficult to navigate or unappealing, it’s only a matter of time before a searcher will give up and return to the search results page. Make sure the navigational menus and search bars within your page are helpful and intuitive.

And for goodness sake, if you haven’t already, go mobile. After Google announced being mobile-friendly would become a page ranking factor earlier this year, Moovweb released a report on how this affected SERPs. In searches related to e-commerce keywords, 83 percent of the top three results were mobile-friendly.

More and more people are using their mobile devices for Internet searches, and no search engine wants to give them results with a bad user experience from their smartphone.

Heather R. Huhman

Heather R. Huhman is a career expert, experienced hiring manager, and founder & president of Come Recommended, a content marketing and digital PR consultancy for organizations with products that target job seekers and/or employers. She is also the author of Lies, Damned Lies & Internships: The Truth About Getting from Classroom to Cubicle (2011), #ENTRYLEVELtweet: Taking Your Career from Classroom to Cubicle (2010), and writes career and recruiting advice for numerous outlets.