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What is the length of stay?

The dwell time is the complete period of time that a user or visitor spends on a certain page on the Internet. Together with the bounce rate, the length of stay is one of the most important indicators for the quality assessment of website content

  • Is the longer the better the expectations of the users are met
  • The webmaster aims to increase the length of stay
  • Is one of the indicators for the quality of a website
  • Is traditionally important for the ranking of a website

Significance and improvement of retention time

The big question, whether search engines Google & Co. consider the time visitors spend on a certain page as a more or less ranking signal, has been discussed quite controversially by SEOs for many years. The company Google, as so often, is keeping a low profile and does not give any concrete information. However, experts generally assume that search engines already consider the length of stay as an important ranking factor. Of course Google wants to offer its searching users the information they are really looking for. So the average length of stay is an important indication that the page in question actually meets such requirements and is therefore most likely used as a real ranking factor. Every user on the net visits a page with a certain expectation. For example, they may be looking for a solution to a specific problem or information about services or products, or may even want to make a purchase. The better a site meets user expectations, the longer the average time a user spends on a website. Therefore a site should make it as easy as possible for visitors to satisfy their needs. This includes, for example, that the website is really intuitive to use and clearly structured. Visitors must be able to find their way around the website easily, navigate easily through the subpages and ideally not have to search for too long. Above all, very reader-friendly articles, with subheadings and very well structured with meaningful paragraphs tempt to read. Embedded videos and images can also lighten up the content, provide additional information and increase the length of stay, as can various links to further content. In addition, the content of a page should of course always deliver what the facts displayed in the search results – such as title and description – promise users. The content must always appeal to the respective target groups well

The length of stay and its challenges in practice

In practice, however, there may well be distortions in the retention time. For example, the so-called parking of pages by the calling users can sometimes lead to these undesirable effects. Parking here means that the visitors open several web pages, e.g. news portals, in a separate tab in the browser in order to consume them one after the other. Of course, the users are only ever active on a single web page at a time. When they finally reach the last page, it has of course already been open for some time and Google Analytics will measure a long dwell time here. However, this has nothing to do with the actual time, which may only be a few seconds. A short dwell time does not necessarily indicate content that is of little use to users. For example, it is not uncommon for users to leave good websites, where they can quickly find the information they are looking for, after a very short time. If the information they are looking for is of only a small amount (e.g. simple contact data or similar), the time they spend there is also very short. However, there is no general guideline or flat-rate values as to how long a page will be “sufficiently long”. A lot depends on the basic type of page and on numerous other factors, e.g. the industry. In any case, it is always a good idea to always optimize your snippets and avoid potential dead ends for visitors to the website

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