How to Successfully Optimize for Dwell Time

Understanding how dwell time optimisation works is one of the main elements of successful online marketing.

First of all, don’t fret: “dwell time” is a tech metric that doesn’t have a definition every-one agrees upon.
Both marketers and security leaders alike use dwell time as a metric, but to understand why, we first need to delve deeper into what it actually is. 

Dwell time is often referred to as “the actual amount of time a visitor spends on a web page before returning to the SERP (search engine results page).”

This term was first introduced back in 2011 in a blog post by Duane Forrester, the then-Senior Project Manager at Bing. He claims that the longer someone stays on your blog or web site, the more useful your content is to the viewer.

Although many specialists later disputed this theory, it still remains one of the most discussed tech terms to-day. Dwell time is closely related to the rest of your marketing strategy.

For example, did you know that most visitors never go beyond the first page of the search results?

Page one of the SERP is where you want to be!

You might assume that if you don’t appear on the first page, or even worse, rank beyond page two, almost nobody will be “dwelling” on your page.

And that wouldn’t be entirely incorrect.

However, before you move on to other metrics, consider the fact that one engaged viewer will probably do your brand more good than ten short “dwellers.”

As a consequence, dwell time in this scenario becomes even more important than being among the top search results.

Most “dwellers” only spend a second looking at a site’s content before moving on, anyway.

According to research, the average attention span in digital signage ranges from just 1.5-4.6 seconds, so that’s all the time you get to capture your viewers’ undivided attention.

Our task at hand is keeping them interested long enough for them to engage.

The following equation illustrates our top priority: engagement + appropriate dwell time = good search results

Strategic content placement for better engagement

You are probably already giving out discount codes, giving special offers, and distributing call to action buttons to your target viewers. 

But did you know that content has to be placed perfectly for it to catch the eye of your prospective viewer? 

Placement might seem like an easy subject, but it’s more complicated than it looks at first glance. There’s a myriad of possibilities, all of which can become an essential part of your marketing strategy.

Nowadays, more and more consumer behaviour patterns are revealed by ever more advanced tech metrics. And so, the term conversion has risen to the top of the discussion food chain in content marketing circles. 

Stronger conversions are typically the result of a thorough marketing strategy, relevant content, and great placement. Beyond a doubt, determining the best possible placement can be difficult. 

Attention insight can help you cover the precise measurements and optics. However, the first rule of thumb is ‘less is more’. Relevant content has to be easily accessible, not overcrowded, and most importantly, catchy. 

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Using pop-ups on every page, for example, is very discouraging, as they can easily become a nuisance for viewers. 

Have you ever clicked on a search engine results page and ended up in a lag because the ads load first? 

For a lot of people, this situation provokes an “instant exit,” which subsequently amounts to almost zero dwell time. 

According to research conducted by the Neil Patel team, almost 50% of people expect a web page to load in 2 seconds or less. Therefore, if your web site is too slow, people will shorten their dwell time and click back to the SERPs before actually seeing your content

Determining your target audience

Don’t automatically assume that you already know what your viewers like.

For instance, you may subscribe to the popular belief that men are more interested in ads that include pictures of women. 

However, a study from the picture provider Shutterstock revealed that mirroring the demographic profile of a target audience in an ad’s photos increases dwell time. People are much more likely to linger on content that looks like them. 

The study also revealed that although the average dwell time for a digital ad is 0.9 seconds, male viewers tend to dwell a little bit longer than females (0.9 seconds and 0.5 seconds, respectively). 

The said study was conducted in two phases and tracked people’s eye movements to measure their engagement. The top-performing ad was viewed for 1.4 seconds, compared to a benchmark dwell time of 0.7 seconds.

Boost your dwell time with rich media

A study by Microsoft, comScore, and Eyeblaster claims that dwell time is a key performance indicator for ad campaigns

However, the ads they are referring to are ones with rich media: ads that encourage visitors to engage with the content, using features like video, audio, or similar elements. 

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The question that is important to consider here is whether dwell time is a good indicator of conversion. 

You could guess, and not be mistaken, that the longer a viewer’s dwell time, the better the impact on your brand. 

Consequently, this trend should be reflected by a spike in search volumes and brand awareness. 

Because your goal is probably somewhere between increasing brand awareness and boosting conversion rates, dwell time appears to be a crucial factor to consider when building a successful marketing strategy

Where does this all leave me?

You need to get people really focused on their screen for a specific amount of time to get them engaged enough to act on whatever your campaign is advertising, whether it be sales, services, or promotions. 

By following basic principles, like creating the best strategy for content placement, adapting visuals to the right target group, and finally, incorporating rich media, you will increase your dwell time significantly. 
There’s an evident connection between dwell time and conversion, so who are we to deny its obvious advantages?

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