Can You Increase Dwell Times?
When people first start thinking about search engine optimization (SEO), they tend to concentrate on visibility. The site needs to rank higher in the search results so that more people can find it. The traffic numbers are too low. They want more clicks. These are all valid concerns and they are definitely the focal point of a lot of SEO efforts. Your site will not succeed if no one visits. However, you don't want to get so caught up in those clicks that you have low dwell times -- the time people spend on your site -- and high bounce rates. How can you keep people from bouncing from the page and increase the amount of time they spend reading it? And, if you can do that, will this make your website more successful and create more conversions -- which, after all, are your real end goals?
Meeting Their Needs
The first step to increase dwell times and decrease bounce rates is to make sure that the page actually answers their questions and meets their needs. If they're looking for the best new running shoes, for instance, they need a page that focuses on running shoes, not shoes in general. They have specific desires, they don't have time to sort through too much information and they have direct questions that they want answered. In this example, those questions could relate to things like surface type, drop size, shoe weight or whether or not it's a neutral shoe. These are all common questions for runners, both new and experienced alike.
This is why generic pages often don't work, nor do pages that aren't written specifically for their keywords. If someone uses those keywords, you have to know what they intend to find. Your page then has to match up with their intent. If it doesn't, you've lost them.
Encouraging the Next Action
The next step is to encourage the reader to take a certain action. This could be a call to action, telling them to contact the company or request more information. But it could just be an indication of where on your site they can find even more specific information. For instance, maybe the landing page tells them about the different categories of running shoes you offer. It provides basic statistics and details, along with pictures and benefits. The reader can then see the type of shoe they're interested in. From there, you can link them to more specific product pages where they can dig into the details. If all goes well, they'll click a third link to make a purchase.
Remember, the dwell times that matter aren't just for each page, but for your site. They're going to leave the page at some point. If you can encourage them to leave it for another page within your site and your network, you continue to increase the dwell times and the exposure to your products, marketing materials and the like.
Focus on the User Experience
When you create each page, the focus has to be on making the experience that the user has as simple and productive as possible. If it's confusing, they're gone. The internet is massive. They're not going to fight through anything complicated unless they are already dead set on buying your brand -- in which case, you can ask yourself how much dwell times even matter. For most people, though, a poor user experience -- confusing content, no clear links, slow load times, broken videos and photos, etc. -- means they're going to look elsewhere. They're not forced to use your site. You have to make them pick it. It doesn't take much to cause them to look elsewhere.
The Right Content
If you're interested in SEO, go beyond visibility. Go beyond getting exposure for your site. Think about how the content on each page impacts each user's experience and makes your site more successful.