This term describes the period between the moment a user clicks on a page and the goes to the Search Engine Results (SERPs). It is estimated that the longer a user stays in a site, the better or more useful he found the site's content.
Dwell time is one of the most important site metrics and one of the most misunderstood because site owners tend to confuse it with Time on Page or Bounce rate.
Dwell time is the time a visitor or user spends on a page before returning to the Search Engine Results (SERPs), and the longer the dwell time the user spends on a site, the better because it indicates that the user consumed, used, and enjoyed most of them on the website before heading to another one.
An example of how search engines could read different dwell times:
The user did not find what was expected on the site, so he quickly returned to the Search Engine Results Page (SERPs) to find a better option.
The user did find the content interesting or useful, so he stayed to check it out.
The content on the site exceeded the expectations so, the user stayed to appreciate the information he found really useful or interesting.
A few years ago, it was not confirmed that the Dwell Time was something that search engines could use to rank a site. Even though today it is a fact, it is not a very famous metric, and website owners tend to forget about it. But suppose the Dwell time measures how useful the users find a site’s content. In that case, this tool is probably one of the most important and reliable that search engines have. Here are other reasons why:
It is an indicator of relevance: if a site has a high Dwell Time among many users, it probably means that its content is useful and should rank higher to other users to use it.
It is more useful than Bounce Rate: Bounce Rate is not a trustworthy ranking signal because many factors can affect the bouncing of a user from a site to another that may not have to do with the content itself; the Dwell Time makes a lot more logical examination.
Recommended Reading: Factors that impact your bounce rate
A lot of site owners do not know the real differences between these three, or will maybe use them as a substitute one from another; even though they may be alike, it is not the same thing. The definitions of each one are:
The period of time a user spends between the moments he clicks on a website and when he goes back to the Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs).
It is the percentage of users that only visit one page on the website; it does not affect if it is one seconds or ten minutes.
The amount of time a user spends on a page before going anywhere else does not matter if it is back to the SERPs or another website.