3 ways to improve your dwell time without being an SEO expert

Search Engine Optimisation. We all know it’s important. But for many of us, it remains something we have only a vague grasp of at best. If that’s you, then read on. Because this blog post requires no technical ability whatsoever. It does, however, contain some very practical ways you can improve your dwell time.

What is dwell time?

Simply put, it is the amount of time that a user spends on your website from the moment they click through from a search page to the moment they click back to the search results. 

Dwell time is often talked about in parallel with bounce rate. If a visitor arrives on your website and clicks away from it without visiting another page, that’s considered a bounce. Ideally, you want to increase your dwell time and reduce your bounce rate.

Of course, this is a very simplistic view. After all, if you’re looking for a company’s phone number then you’re likely to land on their contact page, get the number and very quickly leave without going anywhere else. That’s not a bad result, it’s a logical one.

However, let’s assume we’re talking about a blog post. In this case, we don’t want people staying on the page for just a few seconds because this shows that the article wasn’t very helpful. This is where increasing dwell time is important. So how do you do it?

1) Break down that wall of text

There’s nothing more off-putting than a screen full of text with no variation. It feels impenetrable, like it’s going to take a lot of effort to get the information you want. This can easily cause a significant percentage of your visitors to click away without bothering.

What you want to do is to give them entry points into the page that will draw their attention and get them to read more. Subheads are great for this, setting out your main points and giving an easy-to-access overview of what the reader can look forward to if they commit to reading the body copy.

Another advantage of subheads is that, because they are highlighted with H2 tags, they are weighted more highly for SEO and are therefore a great place to insert keywords.

Other ways to visually break up your text include bullet points, and pull quotes – like the one below. A pull quote should be taken from a little later in the post and is used to ‘tease’ the reader with what’s coming up.

“In every blog post you write, make sure you include at least one link to another part of your website.”

2) Make it visually appealing

As well as subheads, consider using imagery to break up your text even further and add an element of visual appeal. The nicer something is to look at, the longer your visitor is likely to stick around.

The type of imagery you use will depend on your brand and your audience, of course. For example, if you’re a travel agent then it’s nice and easy – simply weave in a handful of aspirational destination shots through your blog and you’re sorted.

For a B2B services brand, you might wonder how you can use imagery but there are actually plenty of options. For example, you could include graphs or tables to illustrate key points. Or look at the way we create ‘further reading’ panels using our brand imagery, colours and fonts below.

3) Use internal (and external) links

In every blog post you write, make sure you include at least one link to another part of your website. After all, the more pages your visitor reads, the longer they’re on your site. Plus it will help get your bounce rate down.

Linking to another blog post relevant to the subject you’re writing about is always a good option, as it’s pure value add. But you can also link to a product or services page, or your About page, or anything else you feel your reader would genuinely be interested in.

Our visual ‘read more’ panel below is a good example, but add links in the main body of text too. Make sure the phrase that you add the link to contains words that match with the destination content. For example, we wouldn’t want to ask you to click on ‘this link’ because that doesn’t mean anything, but we might suggest you check out our Small Business Resources.

And don’t forget about external links too. It might seem counterintuitive to send people away from your site but consider Google’s main goal: to connect people to the most useful information possible. If we link this post from Moz on the ‘5 SEO recommendations that matter’ – which you’re likely to find useful, since you’re reading this blog – then that signals more value adding and will encourage Google to rank us more highly.

TOP TIP: When linking to an external site, make sure you set the link as ‘open in a new tab’ so that your reader doesn’t get distracted.

Using dwell time as a benchmark

Dwell time is only one factor that contributes to a good SEO strategy. But it’s important because it acts as a good indicator of how valuable and engaging your content is. It’s a tangible metric that you can measure against.

In this post we’ve mainly focused on blogs but the same sorts of things would apply if you were talking about a product or services page, for example. Don’t have too much text all in one block. Make sure the page is visually appealing. And create links where it’s appropriate.

Have a look at what the dwell time on your website is now and then implement some of the suggestions above. Keep an eye on your numbers and see what effect the changes are having. Experiment, test, measure and keep tweaking so that you squeeze every last drop of value out of your content.

And if you’ve got a copywriter or copywriting agency involved in writing content for you, then make sure you’re reporting back or giving them access to your stats so that they can help move the dial in the right direction.

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