Hello, and thanks for listening to SEO tips today.
Let’s dig into when bounce rate or dwell time might matter for your SEO program.
First, let’s talk about what “bounce rate” is.
In Google Analytics, bounce rate is when a visitor comes to your page and leaves without viewing any other page on your website or engaging with your page in any meaningful, tracked way. Avinash Kaushik, Digital Marketing Evangelist at Google, used to say, “I came, I puked, I left.”
What is the “dwell rate”?
“Dwell rate is the measurement of time for a searcher who clicked on a URL from your site and “dwelled” on your site before returning to the search results. Those visitors which clicked to your site and immediately went back to the search results are often called “pogo-sticking” in the SEO community.
The idea of “dwell rate” was first mentioned by Duane Forrester—the then Senior Project Manager at Bing—in his 2011 blog post on the Bing Webmaster blog. In that post, Duanne said the following related to dwell rate:
“A minute or two is good as it can easily indicate the visitor consumed your content. Less than a couple of seconds can be viewed as a poor result….Your goal should be that when a visitor lands on your page, the content answers all of their needs, encouraging their next action to remain with you. If your content does not encourage them to remain with you, they will leave. The search engines can get a sense of this by watching the dwell time.”
Bing also calls out these factors directly in its Bing webmaster guidelines:
|User engagement: Bing also considers how users interact with search results. To determine user engagement, Bing asks questions like: Did users click through to search results for a given query, and if so, which results? Did users spend time on these search results they clicked through to, or did they quickly return to Bing? Did the user adjust or reformulate their query?|
OK, but what about the other search engines?
What about Amazon?
Amazing uses CTR in its organic listings.
What about Apple’s new search engine?
What about Google?
Google has 200+ ranking factors that it used in its search algorithm along with machine learning. Google has stated that they do not use Google Analytics bounce rate in its rankings.
The official statement from Google is that dwell time is not being used as a ranking factor, but in 2017, the head of Google Brain, Nick Frost, mentioned this at a conference:
“Google is now integrating machine learning into that process (the process of figuring out what the relationship between a search and the best page for that search is). So then training models on when someone clicks on a page and stays on that page, when they go back or when they are trying to figure out exactly on that relationship”.
Then in 2018, Google said that they don’t use pogo-sticking as a ranking factor.
However, there is also this Google research paper, Learning to Rank with Selection Bias in Personal Search, which mentions how dirty a metric it is. It says the following:
“Click-through data has proven to be a critical resource for improving search ranking quality.” [and] “Though a large amount of click data can be easily collected by search engines, various biases make it difficult to fully leverage this type of data.”
What do folks in the industry think?
Ahrefs interviewed Danny Sullivan when he was at SearchEngineLand, and he said the following:
“I think Google probably tries to measure and use engagement as part of its ranking algorithm. I think precisely how it does this isn’t known, I think too many SEOs obsess that it must be clickthrough rate. It largely doesn’t matter. As marketers, you want people engaging with your content first and foremost. So focus on that, and you’ll probably align with what Google wants.”
I agree! I think ultimately, you want more clicks from search and more people to stay on your website and convert, so tracking organic click-through rate from keywords that are relevant to your optimized landing pages — and then ensuring that those people stay and convert just makes good business sense.
How do you measure dwell time?
I think it’s essential to ensure that your Google Analytics implementation gives you the best bounce rate metric possible (by tracking web conversions that lead off your site and external links, etc. And then, you should start monitoring bounce rate metrics from your organic search visits.
What is a good dwell rate?
Note that dwell time is subjective and is based on whether you’ve provided a comprehensive answer to the query. Some questions only require sorter answers. Also, it will depend on whether your page is uniquely matched to the search intent behind the keywords for which it ranks.
How do you keep people and increase dwell time?
You should strategically add internal links.
This works because you send visitors to other content they may want to read, ideally the “next” question in their mind based on the search journey mapping you’ve already conducted.
It also increases the likelihood that visitors will view more than one page on your website.
So that’s your tip for today. Think about increasing the dwell time on your site by looking at your bounce rate metrics from organic search visits and strategically creating internal links.
Thanks for listening. Come back tomorrow for another SEO tip.
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