The dwell time is also referred to as the average time on site and shows the average time a user spends on a website. It is the duration between the time the user clicks on a website and when he/she leaves.
The dwell time is documented using web analytics tools such as Google Analytics. On the basis of the length of time spent on the website, it is possible to make assumptions about the user's interest in the content and technical quality of a website.
For many website operators, it is particularly important to follow the general trend of the dwell time. If it increases, the website is presumably providing adequate and interesting content which satisfies the needs of the users. On the other hand, a decrease in the dwell time is an indication that the design and content of the website needs improving, as it does not offer the user what they require.
Another reason for a short dwell time can be a wrongly selected target group. Most websites are reached via the active google search. The aims of the users therefore differ. However, if the website does not return the desired result, the user will leave after a short period of time. In this context of website analysis, the bounce rate is another indicator to analyze user behavior.
Especially in social media, the dwell time is certainly one of the most important parameters.
The undisputed leader in this case is Facebook. In January 2012, users spent an average of 405 minutes per month on Facebook.
“Dwell time” is an indication of the quality of a website, and it is generally accepted that it is a ranking factor. The latter is also designated as the “pogo stick effect” or “pogo sticking.” The significance of dwell time is, however, dependent on the website’s goals and the interplay with its contents as well as other performance indicators. The way in which it is measured has, for example, the consequence that only visits from users that result in an action at the end of their visit are recorded. In other words, there must be an interaction so that the dwell time can be correctly recorded and expresses something about the visit. Because this is not always the case — and the data is also calculated on average — dwell time on some websites must be viewed with caution. Counted among these are, for example, websites that answer user inquiries relatively quickly and with satisfaction. In order to increase the significance of dwell time with regard to website goals, events and target projects can be set up with Google Analytics.
According to the type of websites, the connection between dwell time and bounce rate, on the one hand, and sessions and sites visited, on the other hand, is of importance. Factors such as reading flow (Flesch Reading Ease), the depth of the content, and its arrangement in the information architecture can influence dwell time positively or negatively – the same goes for the design, various interaction elements (for example, the call to action), and for user guidance. In general, it can be said that dwell time is relevant, in particular, for content-oriented websites and blogs, insofar as it is correctly recorded and regarded in conjunction with the website goals, the contents, and the structure of the site.
For e-commerce websites such as online shops, the length of stay is an important factor, as the chance of conversion usually increases with increasing length of stay. Therefore, it is an important part of search engine optimization to deliver the best possible results to users so that they can find exactly what they are looking for on the site.