Why and How to Increase Dwell Time on Your WordPress Website

Why and How to Increase Dwell Time on Your WordPress Website

Dwell time and how to increase dwell time are often neglected elements of search engine optimization. You, too, probably mostly concentrate on how to get visitors on your site and rarely give a thought about how to keep them there.

However, dwell time, the amount of time visitors spend on your site, is an important indicator. Longer dwell time usually indicates a positive user experience. It’s also something search engines take notice of.

For that reason, in this post we will dive into the topic of how to increase dwell time on your WordPress site. For that, we will first examine what dwell time is and why it matters. After that, we will shortly discuss how to measure it and finish the post with some practical advice on how to increase dwell time on your site.

What is Dwell Time (And Why Should You Care)?

The term “dwell time” was pioneered by Duane Forrester, then Senior Project Manager at Bing, who mentioned it in a blog post on the Bing Webmaster blog. Here’s how he defined it:

The time between when a user clicks on our search result and when they come back from your website […].

In short, it’s the time people consume your content before looking for more. So far so good. Why does this matter to search engines? Here’s Forrester’s take:

Your goal should be that when a visitor lands on your page, the content answers all of their needs, encouraging their next action to remain with you. If your content does not encourage them to remain with you, they will leave. The search engines can get a sense of this by watching the dwell time.

So basically, dwell time is a metric that tells search engines how well you manage to satisfy your visitors needs. If they spend a lot of time on your page, it means they like what they found and your content fulfills what they came to your site for.

Since it’s the job of search engines to provide users with the best possible search results, seeing visitors satisfied with your page is a good thing. Consequently, it would be a reason to promote your page in the search results. Conversely, a short duration could be a reason to demote it.

While dwell time isn’t an official ranking factor, you would still do well to increase it as much as you can. Why is that? Because a) there are indications that dwell time does influence search rankings and b) taking measures to increase dwell time will improve your general SEO and the quality of your site. And that can never be a bad thing.

How to Calculate Dwell Time

Before attempting to improve it, you first need to have an idea of how your site is currently faring in terms of dwell time. After all, you can only measure improvements if you have a clear before picture.

However, when you check Google Analytics or the analytics tool of your choice, you will be hard pressed to find dwell time displayed anywhere. The only thing Google offers is time on page and bounce rate.

While those are useful metrics to approximate dwell time, they are not quite the same:

  • Dwell time — As mentioned, this means the time interval between someone clicking on a search result and returning to the search page (and only the search page).
  • Bounce rate — The percentage of people who leave your site after visiting only one page. It doesn’t matter whether they spent two seconds or an hour on there, without a second click both counts as a bounce.
  • Time on page — Means the amount of time people spend on your page before moving on to anywhere else. Their next destination can be the search page, another page on your site or a completely different website.

In short, while dwell time is related to bounce rate and time on page, it’s not quite either of them. At the same time, there is no official way to measure dwell time. It’s more of a concept than a hard metric and I recommend reading Neil Patel’s detailed discussion of dwell time.

As a consequence, those two metrics are a good way to give you an indication of how your pages’ dwell time is faring. For that reason, before taking any corrective action, you’d do well to note them down for pages that you want to improve. The article cited above also gives you an idea as to what numbers to shoot for.

Effective Ways to Increase Dwell Time in WordPress

Alright, now that you know why dwell time matters and the state of affairs on your website, it’s time to take action. Trying to increase dwell time, in a nutshell, it comes down to two factors:

  • Providing an excellent user experience
  • Creating relevant, unique, valuable and engaging content

However, the devil is in the details. For that reason, here are some actionable pointers on how to do that.

Optimize the First Impression

The first thing people see on your site has great influence on whether they will stick around. If they are turned off immediately, there’s no reason for them to proceed to the rest of the page. This decision happens in milliseconds. Since you rarely have a second chance to make a first impression, you better make it count:

  • Page loading speed — 40 percent of users will abandon a site that takes longer than three seconds to load. Three seconds? That’s shorter than it takes you to spell bounce rate. Consequently, the first step to increase dwell time on your site is learn how to speed up your WordPress website.
  • Design — Web design has a lot of sway on whether visitors trust your website. That’s why you need to make sure it’s crisp and resonates with your target audience. Simple backgrounds, plenty of white space as well as clear and easy-to-read fonts are your friend.
  • Layout — Design and layout go hand in hand. Make sure your content takes center stage and is easy to consume (more on that below). You can write the best content in the world, if it gives people vertigo trying to read it, they won’t.
  • Mobile optimization — A surefire way to keep your dwell time at zero on mobile devices is to have an unresponsive website. It’s just not acceptable in today’s Internet. So, learn what makes a website mobile friendly today and put it into practice.
  • Ads and popups — While popups can be absolutely essential in building an email list, they can also be annoying as heck. Same for ads. That’s also why Chrome will begin blocking them if they are too intrusive and Google started penalizing ads last year. When using either, make sure they don’t interfere with the user experience. Use exit-intent technology and other ways for more subtelty.

Concentrate on User Needs

As explained earlier, long dwell time usually means your page is fulfilling user needs. That’s why it takes them a long time before they decide to look for additional information. Conversely, to increase dwell time, try not to give them a reason to leave. Here’s how to do that:

  • Understand your users — The first way to fulfill user intent is to understand what it is. If you can get into your audience’s heads and understand what they are looking for, you’re much better equipped to give it to them. Doing market research for your website will help with that.
  • Write longer content — Long-form content outperforms shorter pieces by a long shot. It only makes sense, as longer posts allow you to dive deeper into a topic and answer more of your readers’ questions. Although it’s more work, it also gets results.
  • Target the right keywords — The keywords in your title and description make a promise about what your piece is going to be about. If in the end you don’t deliver on that promise (e.g. an “ultimate guide” that’s only 300 words long), visitors will leave in droves. Consequently, your dwell time will suffer. Don’t do that. Oh, and stay away from clickbait headlines.
  • Keep your content up to date — Stale content is one of the best ways to direct visitors to the back button. There’s nothing more disappointing than clicking through to an article and realizing it’s horribly out of date. I personally rarely even click on search results older than two years. Others will feel the same.
  • Respond to questions and comments — the most important conversation happens in the comment section. If people interact with your articles, the worst you can do is ignore them. Not only do other people read the comments (thus staying on your site longer), when you interact with them, it’s also a reason to come back to your site.

Make Your Content Highly Readable

Readability has gained in importance in recent years. Team Yoast also gave a talk on the topic at WordCamp Europe 2016 on why they added a readability tool to their SEO plugin. Here are their recommendations to make content readable:

yoast tips for content formatting

To that, I would add:

  • Be relatable — People want to connect with other people. Therefore, don’t be afraid to let your personality shine through in your writing. Ask questions, make jokes, be a little silly. It will help others relate to your content on a more personal level and make it more entertaining.
  • Use media — Images, infographics, videos, and other media are great tools to emphasize what you are talking about and break up your content. Plus, with loads of free stock photos out there and the many services for which WordPress supports auto embeds, there’s really no excuse not to use them.

Include Internal Links

Dwell time is not just about the page that people land on. It’s also about the total time they spend on your website. For that reason, in order to keep them around longer, give them somewhere to go next.

Linking to related posts on your site (like I am doing in this piece) is one of the ways to achieve that. Another is to include a widget in your sidebar or at the end of your post that lists your latest, popular or related posts.

related posts widget to increase dwell time
Related posts here on Torque

For latest posts, WordPress has a solution built in. Good options for related posts are Jetpack and Related Posts for WordPress. Good popular posts plugins are the aforementioned Jetpack and WordPress Popular Posts.

Of course, you should also link to outside sources (where appropriate). However, when you do, make sure to open those links in a new tab or window.

open external links in new tab to increase dwell time

It’s counterproductive to try and increase dwell time on your site and then send visitors elsewhere.

Dwell Time in a Nutshell…

Dwell time is a much-debated topic in the SEO world. While it has been around as a concept for a long time, a lot of it is still unclear. Among them the question how to measure it reliably and how much weight search engines attribute to it.

However, no matter whether Google actually tracks dwell time (they probably do) taking measures to increase it can only help your WordPress site. After all, the time visitors spend on your site before returning to the SERPs is an important quality indicator. Consequently, any measures to increase dwell time will improve your site and your SEO overall.

Focus on the two pillars user experience and content. If you do that, dwell time will happen by itself.

How do you feel about dwell time as a metric for website success? Any thoughts on how to further increase dwell time on websites? Let us know in the comments section below!

Nick Schäferhoff is an entrepreneur, online marketer, and professional blogger from Germany. He found WordPress when he needed a website for his first business and instantly fell in love. When not building websites, creating content or helping his clients improve their online business, he can most often be found at the gym, the dojo or traveling the world with his wife. If you want to get in touch with him, you can do so via Twitter or through his website.

The post Why and How to Increase Dwell Time on Your WordPress Website appeared first on Torque.

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The Slowest WordPress Plugins (and Alternatives to Try Instead)

The Slowest WordPress Plugins (and Alternatives to Try Instead)

We all know that performance and speed are a critical part of how visitors perceive their experience on a website. That’s why we use optimized web hosting plans, install CDNs, and utilize caching plugins to keep WordPress sites running quickly and smoothly. For some of your clients, however, paying for VPS or managed WordPress hosting […]

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How WPML Contractors and Display as Translated Helps Businesses and Developers Build Multilingual Websites

How WPML Contractors and Display as Translated Helps Businesses and Developers Build Multilingual Websites

You think you have identified the developer you want to build your multilingual website. But just like with lawyers, plumbers, or any other time you put the fate of an important project in the hands of a relative stranger, a lingering doubt always remains.

Have I made the right decision?

Luckily, it doesn’t have to be like this.

At least when it comes to developers. With WPML Contractors, you will find trusted professionals who have experience in building multilingual websites.

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A Plea For Plugin Developers to Stop Supporting Legacy PHP Versions

A Plea For Plugin Developers to Stop Supporting Legacy PHP Versions

Iain Poulson has published a thoughtful request on the Delicious Brains blog asking WordPress plugin developers to stop supporting legacy PHP versions. He covers some of the benefits of developing with newer versions of PHP, what Delicious Brains is doing with its plugins, and using the Requires Minimum PHP Version header in readme.txt.

While we wait for the Trac discussion to roll on and the WordPress development wheels to turn we can take action ourselves in our plugins to stop them working on installs that don’t meet our requirements.

We do this in our own plugins where it is strictly necessary (WP Offload S3 relies on the Amazon Web Services S3 SDK, which requires PHP 5.3.3+ and will we will move to PHP 5.5 in the future), and the more plugins that do this out of choice will help move the needle further.

Iain Poulson

Poulson mentions the ServeHappy project in his post and it's worth a mention here as well. The ServeHappy project was launched earlier this year by a group of volunteers.

Its main goal is to reduce the number of WordPress installs running on unsupported PHP versions through education, awareness, and tools to help users update their site's PHP versions.

This project is in need of contributors. If you're interested, join the #core-php channel on WordPress Slack. The team has meetings every Monday at 11:00 AM EDT. You can also follow the #core-php tag on the Make WordPress.org Core site where links to chat logs and meeting summaries are published.

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How to Disable Push Notification Requests in Firefox

How to Disable Push Notification Requests in Firefox

Have you noticed how many sites ask if you want to enable push notifications? I've answered no to every request but thanks to a tip suggested by Thomas Kräftner, you can disable requests from appearing altogether in Firefox.

Last week, Mozilla released Firefox 59.0 and added a new privacy feature that allows users to block sites from sending push notification requests. To enable it, open the Options panel in Firefox 59.0 and click the Privacy&Security tab.

Scroll down to the Permissions section. Click on the Settings button for Notifications and check the box that says Block new requests asking to allow notifications.

Settings panel for Notifications

Click the Save Changes button and enjoy one less thing interrupting your browsing experience.  To accomplish the same thing in Chrome, follow this tutorial published by Field Guide.

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8 Ways You’re Wasting Money As A Web Developer

8 Ways You’re Wasting Money As A Web Developer

Picture the emotions that come to your mind when you think about your web development business. Can you recall the excitement of signing a new contract for building a website or the joy of solving a critical problem that took you most of the last week?

But then there is fear. How you are going to pay your bills this month when the phone goes silent for too long, and you haven’t got a single offer request for a couple of weeks. There is frustration when your customer delays the project. There is anxiety when you are refused to get paid until you add some features that weren’t previously within the scope of the project.

Let’s look at the things that can cause web developers to miss out on money, and how to fix them.

Too Many Hats

The reality of working as a freelancer or running a small agency requires wearing multiple hats. It is apparent that technical skills are essential, as it’s challenging to build websites if you don’t know how to code on at least a basic level. But there’s more to it than that. A freelance web developer needs to be their own manager, accountant, support manager, and salesman.

The last role is usually the trickiest one. It’s almost impossible to be a professional developer and great salesperson at the same time. Selling is difficult, and it requires a different skill set than designing or developing a website. Even your personality type may work to your disadvantage.

Working as a developer or designer requires extensive technical knowledge and a detail oriented attitude which are skills associated with introverts. Most web developers feel much better at dealing with code than with people.

It is no wonder that most people who build websites can feel uncomfortable with selling and thus don’t get the results that they are looking for.

On top of that, selling a service is always more challenging than the sale of a tangible product, which can be presented, tested, and evaluated before purchase.

The main reason why people who make websites can’t make their ends meet is because they are bad at selling. And one of the most common reasons for that is ineffective proposals.

Ineffective Proposals

The most common issue is focusing on the wrong problem. Getting a new website developed is a very stressful experience for customers. Surprisingly, it’s not because they are afraid the site won’t suit their needs. It’s because they are scared of the website development process itself. Exploring this pain and creating a compelling pitch focused on assuring them that you know how to organize the website development process is a key to building an excellent proposal.

Another frequent issue I have seen is making proposals all about the advantages of the websites yet to be made. Customers usually get dozens of quotes for a site, and all of them are full of technical jargon most customers don’t understand, such as responsiveness, optimization, customization, etc. This way they don’t see the reason why they should choose one proposal over another and usually end up making a decision based on price.

Finally, most freelancers focus on the most crowded space which is building new websites. They have to compete with millions of other developers and it is tough to stand out. At the same time, there are over 1 billion websites that are already out there which require changes, updating, and maintenance. The competition on that market is nowhere near the size of the website development market.

Lack Of Recurrence

Regular employees get their salary every week, two weeks, or month (depending on country) in a recurring manner, while freelancers get paid only when the project is done. As the website development projects almost always take longer than expected, it’s impossible to predict when a freelancer will receive his pay.

Unfortunately, rent, mortgage, and other bills are also recurring. It’s not a problem for contract workers because they know exactly when they will get paid. But for freelancers it means a constant struggle to get money wired for projects before bills become overdue. First, it’s about getting new jobs. Then it’s about developing the websites. And if these things aren’t hard enough already, there is also the whole acceptance process which depends on the client’s availability and willingness to cooperate. And once the project is finally done (and paid for) the freelancer needs to start the process all over again to get another job, deliver it and then once again hope for another wire.

No Predictability

People with steady corporate jobs not only know when they will get paid, but they also know how much they get. If the contract stipulates they make $80,000 a year, they will get at least that amount in equal chunks throughout the year unless they get fired.

Freelancers, on the other hand, usually don’t have such comfort. Customers want to get their website done as quickly as possible which makes it difficult to build a pipeline of work that is required to get a steady and predictable source of income. There are also many factors that are out of the freelancer’s control such as delays in delivering content for the website by the customer or a never-ending acceptance process. All of that makes it almost impossible for a freelancer to predict what the income pipeline will be throughout the year.

Lack Of Control

Getting paid on a per-project basis has one more severe disadvantage. You usually get paid only after the project is completed and at the end of the day, it’s up to the customer to decide when the project is done.

The typical scenario is that the client’s excitement decreases over time, and by the end of the project, they’re often not that responsive to communication which makes it difficult to get them to finally accept the project. Additionally, customers will never deliver the content on time which will introduce further delays. Unfortunately, some customers try to take advantage of the situation and force web developers to do some extra work within the previously accepted recalculation.

No Boss

Being one’s own boss is tricky. Many people choose freelance web development because they appreciate the flexibility and freedom it provides. It may seem that you can work when you want and as much as you want, or that you can be anywhere in the world and you can still do your job.

That’s theory. In reality, it’s more likely that you will need to spend all the time you possibly can on work, often staying up for long hours of staring at the computer screen.

It’s true that it’s easier for a freelancer to take a break during the day to pick up the kids from school, but when an employee is done, they are done. A freelancer, on the other hand, is almost never done with work for the day.

Bad At Collecting

For many freelancers I know, collecting is the least favorite part of the project cycle. There are several reasons for that.

First of all, customers make it difficult. From my time as a freelancer, I can recall that clients usually became much less responsive near the end of a project, especially when it was time to fulfill their end of a bargain. I often had to send several emails asking them for their final approval and later call them many times asking if they got the invoice and when I could expect the wire. There’s an entire set of tactics used intuitively by customers like:

“I’ve lost your invoice. Can you send it again, please?”

“I’m currently on a business trip/on holiday. Could you call again next week?”

“Just add this one small additional feature, and I’ll pay you right away.”

Back then I thought it is unique to the Polish market, but in conversations with web developers from the US, Western Europe, and India I learned that it’s a global trend on the low-end web development market.

Unfortunately, when it comes to collecting, the freelance web developer who needs to reach out to a customer to finally get paid. It is not uncommon that this takes multiple emails or phone calls to get the money for the project.

Many people find asking for payment uncomfortable, even when they are obviously entitled to it. In fact, some don’t feel comfortable about speaking of money at all, not to mention reminding a customer about an overdue invoice. Some freelancers even have internal doubts if their work is worth the money they have agreed on, and thus they feel even less comfortable asking for payment.

Taking On Excessively Big Risks

Why do customers change the scope of the project halfway through so often? Usually, it’s because it’s difficult for them to describe what they had in mind in the first place. Sometimes their vision or the reason why they want to build their presence online is blurry. Lack of a clear goal and a low level of technical knowledge make it tough to communicate successfully.

The inability to describe upfront what they want or need is the main reason for iterations. Often it’s only after the presentation of the graphic design or even the finished website when customers begin to clarify their requirements. Usually, it entails a lot of changes. If you factor in the complexity of responsive websites, search engine optimization and social integrations it often requires up to five iterations before the website gets accepted. It dramatically lowers the profit on the project as most sites are developed for a fixed fee. Some web developers even abandon a project when they are presented with a list of changes that will take too much time to implement, as they know it will mean hours of poorly paid work to get the project closed.

Don’t Miss Out On Money

Throughout this article we’ve talked about a lot of the pitfalls freelancers can run into when dealing with making money. The best way to make sure you get paid correctly and on time is to keep lines of communication open with your client.

Bring up cost right from the start and be clear about when you need to be paid and how much. See if your client would be okay with paying you throughout the project instead of saving it all for the end. This will give you a little more peace of mind throughout the process.

At the end of the day keep your lines of communication open and take your financial needs seriously.

Aleksander is CEO of Perfect Dashboard. A frequent speaker at WordCamps, Hosting Events and Joomla Days around the world. Originally from Poland, this foodie & computer games freak is very excited to blog on Torque!

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Doc Pop’s News Drop: Yoast’s €25,000 Diversity Fund

Doc Pop’s News Drop: Google Dives Into WordPress, 4.9.4 Update, and Plugin Madness!

Doc’s WordPress News Drop is a weekly report on the most pressing WordPress news. When the news drops, I will pick it up and deliver it right to you.

In this week’s News Drop we talk about Yoast SEO’s €25,000 Diversity Fund to help underrepresented speakers attend WordCamps, plus we recap some highlights from this week’s Plugin Madness competition, and check in with Jenny Beaumont for some behind the scenes info about WordCamp Europe.

Love WordPress news but hate reading? My name is Doc and this is Doc Pop’s News Drop:

Willing to put their money where their mouth is, Yoast SEO has launched a diversity fund to help increase speaker diversity at WordCamps and open source conferences around the world. YOAST, who are best known for their WordPress SEO plugin, have pledged  a minimum of 25,000 euros each year as part of their Yoast Diversity Fund.

In a recent post, Joost De Valk, states that WordCamps have efforts in place to be more inclusive and diverse, but their budgets often fail to cover the travel expenses for most speakers. The Yoast Diversity Fund aims to fund up to 1,000 euros per event for travel and accomendation.

Stating further “At Yoast, we’ve been thinking about what we can do to improve the inclusivity of conferences. One of the things we can do is remove hurdles, and specifically, the hurdle of costs. Costs for speakers from a diverse background to come and speak.”

If you are interested in applying to the Yoast Diversity Fund, you send an email to diversity-fund at yoast.com. Applicants need to identify as part of an underrepresented group and needs to already have been accepted as a speaker at the conference. These conferences need to be non-commercial and related to either WordPress, Magento, or TYPO3.

It is week two of our 2018 Plugin Madness competition. Last week we weeded the tournament down from 64 to 32 plugins, and this week it’s bumped it down to just 16.

One of the biggest surprises on our side was seeing YOAST get bumped out in the second round.

Which breaks my heart considering that whole thing I just got talking about before…

WPMU Dev supporters came out in full force last week, helping secure round 3 slots for two of their WordPress plugins: Smush Image Compression and Hummingbird Page Speed Optimization. Smush, which was the winner of last year’s Plugin Madness competition, smashed ShortPixel Image Optimizer with 86% of the vote. There were 4 image compression plugins in the beginning of the tournament, and Smush is the last one to remain.

The contest is getting more and more heated, so don’t wait, go to PluginMadness.com to vote for your favorite plugins. A new round begins Monday March 26th, so get your votes in now.

WordCamp Europe is quickly approaching and each week we are lucky enough to have WordCamp Europe updates from Jenny Beaumont, the lead organizer from this year’s event. We’ll let her take it from here:

That’s it for this week’s News Drop. What are your predictions for the next few rounds of Plugin Madness? Share your bracketology in the comments below and stay tuned next week for more on WordCamp Europe, Plugin Madness, and the latest WordPress news.

Doctor Popular is an artist and musician living in San Francisco. As a full disclaimer, he is neither a doctor nor popular.

The post Doc Pop’s News Drop: Yoast’s €25,000 Diversity Fund appeared first on Torque.

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How to Take Full Advantage of WordPress Automation

How to Take Full Advantage of WordPress Automation

Automation can be a scary word for some, especially when a business relies on being able to make a personal connection with clients or customers. When it comes to working in WordPress, however, we understand that automation is a good thing (up to a certain point anyway). While we obviously don’t want a bot writing […]

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