How web design can affect the users’ dwell time?

Google have had a series of updates in the past couple of months which mainly revolves on promoting user experience and reliable content. And although it’s not yet definite if dwell time is included as a ranking factor in search engine Optimization, Google surely had shown hints that this can be a basis of quality and relevance of a certain website to top the SERPs. But before we further analyze if dwell time is a ranking factor, let’s first understand what it is about.


What is dwell time? It’s actually the amount of time that the user spends on your site from the moment he clicks on the link of your website on the search result page up to the time that he clicks back to the SERPs. For instance, if a user didn’t find what he was looking for on your website, he will immediately click back to the results page after two seconds. That two seconds is his dwell time on your website. If he finds something pretty useful on your content, that user may spend about two minutes on your site. That’s pretty much a longer dwell time. If the user enjoyed spending time on your website and found something very useful and relevant, he may spend about 10-15 minutes on your site before clicking back to the SERPs. Now, that’s the type of engagement you would want for your website.


If you will come to think of it, dwell time is tied up with user experience. It is related on the engagement and satisfaction of the user on your website. So, even if it’s not yet official that Google is using dwell time as a metric for their rankings, it is still necessary to keep the users engaged on your site to prove your relevance. After all, what we all want is to get their attention, right?


Since we have already discussed on a previous blog how a creative content can drive traffic, let’s shift our focus to the other component that affects the users’ dwell time: the web design.


There are different elements on your web design that affects user experience.  Here are the basic aspects to start with:


  1. Layout. The layout of your website should highlight the content and make it easier for the users to digest the information. The moment a user enters your website and found an unreadable font with a flashy background color, he will surely hit the back button immediately and go to another search result. Remember, the layout should be pleasing to the eye so the users’ brain can easily process it. You only have 3 seconds to catch the users’ interest.
  2. Aesthetic. The choice of colors and photos are very important and it has to be relevant to the industry that you belong. It’s not that the users are looking for good-quality photos to consider reading an article, but it grabs their attention and would make them want to scan through the entire page. The website’s design is like the red carpet on a hotel lobby. It has to be elegant enough to attract attention but it’s not really the reason why the guests are there. The red carpet makes them feel like the hotel is an exclusive place, and they will see something more elegant if they will walk further. So, yeah, choose the colors, graphics, and photos very wisely. Positive user experience starts there.
  3. Mobile optimization. People nowadays are always on the go. With the availability of smartphones and Internet access everywhere, it’s natural that people will frequently use their phones to search the World Wide Web. If your website is not compatible with mobile devices, then you’re in a bad shape. Make sure (like, right now, go and check your website using your mobile device) that your website is accessible anytime and anywhere.
  4. Pageless Design. Requiring less effort to access all the contents of your site is a plus factor for users. Instead of creating multiple pages for each of your web content, you can consider having a pageless design. It’s a web layout where all of the information that the users need (about, services, client portfolio, contact), are all in one page and can be viewed just by scrolling down the entire page. People prefer to have everything accessible in one swipe. It’s a behavior that they acquire using social media networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram – endless scrolling just to view a never-ending news feed.


Positive User Experience means Longer Dwell Time


Considering the different factors of web designing mentioned above, how do web design affect dwell time? It’s simple. If people don’t like what they see on your site, they will click back to the SERPs. If they like what they saw, they may spend a little more time before they return to the results page. But, if they find something that sparks their interest which made them engage further, then it’s a good deal. It will result to more clicks, more references, and more dwell time. If this analogy is quite not convincing yet, here are some statistics that make a case for smarter website and user experience design:


  • With 15 minutes to browse a content, two-thirds of people prefer to read something beautifully designed than something plain. (Source: Adobe)
  • If the images won’t load or will take too long than the usual, 39% of people will stop engaging with a website. (Source: Adobe)
  • The most important element missing from many company websites is a “thorough contact information”, according to 51% of people. (Source: KoMarketing)
  • If the layout or content is unattractive, 38% of people will stop engaging with a website. (Source: Adobe)
  • Missing or the lack of contact information or phone number on a website will 44% of visitors to leave a company’s website. (Source: KoMarketing)


Regardless of algorithm updates and changes on the ranking rules, Google has only one basic requirement for websites to get the number 1 spot – attraction. Whoever attracts more people, gets bigger points. It means attracting more users to visit and spend time on your website. And how will you do that? You can attain that by producing quality content and creating a well-developed website. Consistently use these two things as guidelines and you wouldn’t need to worry about the ranking factors.


Your company has unique needs and unique selling propositions. Not because a certain strategy works for one company, it will also work for yours. It’s necessary to carefully study the needs of your target market on how they react on your approach. You can continue to innovate your techniques based on the result of your users’ response.


But, if you think that your search engine Optimization requires thorough brainstorming, you can tap a local SEO to help develop your strategies and techniques. With extensive market research, out-of-the-box creativity, and strategic planning, you can create a web design that will attract the users, improve your site’s traffic, and increase your conversion rates, all at the same time.