Dwell time: influence on SEO and optimization potential

In the blog article, we want to explain what influence the length of stay has on SEO.

But first a definition:

The dwell time measures – roughly summarized – the time that passes between the first call of a single page by a visitor and the end of the page call.

The higher the dwell time, the higher the probability that the page exactly meets the wishes of the searcher. Therefore, the duration is probably also used as a ranking signal by Google.

Definition of retention period/average time-on-site SEO

Time-on-site measures the time that individual URLs are called.

Time-in-page measures the time of all URL calls of a project in the context of a (clearly attributable) visit.

The average length of stay is often referred to when comparisons are to be made between different websites. For this purpose, all time-on-site calls are added up and divided by the total number of sessions.

Retention time: What is a good value?

A short dwell time of fewer than 20 seconds is hardly enough for visitors to scan the content of an average web page, let alone record relevant information.

From 40 to 50 seconds, the dwell time on the individual page is already good, but it strongly depends on the purpose and the set objectives of different contents.

Around two minutes, the average length of stay across all pages may be per unique visitor to be considered acceptable. This is a good guideline for Google as well as for SEO, which is an excellent value to achieve.

On contact sides, the retention time should be somewhat shorter. Remarkably long retention times tend to indicate contact information that is difficult to find – or forms that take a long time to fill in.

Comprehensive advice articles should have longer retention times if the users are supposed to scan the content and consciously record it.

Landing pages require a clearly defined call-to-action, which is recorded in Google Analytics or another tool used. This is the only way to measure the length of stay sufficiently accurately for further conversion optimization.

E-Commerce projects, online shops, and product pages follow their own rules: Individual products with a rather short time-on-site are best compared to an overall long time-on-page per visitor. Then the visitor spends enough time browsing the shop offer and can be convinced to buy step by step.

Functional pages such as thank you pages, imprint, or privacy policy should be excluded from the recording in Google Analytics of the average length of stay.

Retention time, SEO and ranking impact

Google’s relevance rating is clearly in focus. Accordingly, all signals that characterize irrelevant search results lead to a loss of ranking in the long run. For search engine optimization, this means: high bounce rates and a low retention time make the website appear not particularly relevant.

Accordingly, in combination with other factors, they can lead to ranking losses. The excellent news: Above all, the length of stay can be optimized using various techniques and with added value for the visitors.

Tips for improving the average time on site and thus SEO


For users and Google alike, fast, mobile-optimized, and structured websites are always preferable to slow text desert websites.

These steps are helpful to keep users on the website longer, increase the time they spend on the site, and improve the SEO ranking:

Improve loading speed and mobile-first
If the page takes too long to build up, the result is fast breaks and concise dwell times. If the page is unreadable on a smaller display, rapid aborts are inevitable.

Check menu navigation
Clear structures facilitate the exchange of information between different websites – and this increases the probability of higher average time-on-page times.

Structure contents
Structured content is more inviting to read: short paragraphs with concise headings, bulletins, and graphics or infographics are more comfortable to “scan” and are decisive for assessing whether the content is helpful for the user’s needs.

Check multimedia use
Videos with short transcripts and subtitles bind-users on the website much longer than videos alone or pure text deserts whose content is challenging to capture.

Check link structure
The time-on-page can be increased with links within articles to further topics, missing links, on the other hand, can reduce the length of stay. This is because the user then interrupts the session after the end of the article and returns to Google search.

Define clear call-to-action or final action
the retention time per individual page is completed, and inaccuracies in the measurement of average values are avoided.

Content marketing is very classical and includes tips and references to relevant topics, which are linked directly after the article or website content.

News and magazine websites sometimes also include references to current news after two or three paragraphs. This probably reduces the time spent on the individual article, but increases the average time spent on the entire website: This is because, in this way, the user is continuously directed to the next news item.

Retention time is an important indicator for your SEO to improve the relevance of your website projects for visitors – and Google.

Are you looking for a search engine optimization agency? For years we have been helping our clients to be found better on Google. Contact us for a personal free initial assessment!

Useful Links for you:

Google Web Vitals

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1 thought on “Dwell time: influence on SEO and optimization potential”

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