In the SEO community it is quite a well known fact that search engines such as google use the average time a visitor spends on a page to help determine where that page will rank in search engine results. It only makes sense. Google, Bing, Yahoo and others want to ensure that it’s users are getting the most relevant search results for their keywords so that people will continue using their search engine. Although keyword placement, content, meta descriptions, titles, tags, backlinks, and photos all can act as positive indicators to a site, it is important for the person who visits the site to find this information relevant.
There are a few good indicators of this. Google measures bounce rate, which is measured in the percentage of visitors who “bounce” off of the page after they arrive on it. This basically means who don’t go any deeper into your website, click on any internal links, etc. The visitor clicks back on their browser or quickly navigates away from your site to another page. This is considered a bounce and is an indicator to the search engines that your page wasn’t a relevant page for what the user was searching for and should therefor not rank as highly in search as the pages where customers spend more time. Bounce rates vary from industry to industry and varies from keyword to keyword. You can imagine if you have a site about scuba diving in Costa Rica and some one searches for just that, they would be far less likely to bounce off of your page than someone who was searching for whale sharks and just happened to find the same site that mentions whale sharks in one of its trip reports. Therefore, determining a site wide bounce rate is kind of pointless.
The other great indicator which google uses for determining a pages usefulness or relevance to its users is the average time spent on a page. This is great because it allows a search engine to see if the information that is on that given page is seen as relevant by a user. Think about it. All of us have been to websites that rank well but have information that isn’t easy to read, or is just rehashed information that we have read before. If your site manages to captivate visitors and retain them for even a minute, you are well ahead of the pack.
There are several relatively easy ways to increase your average time spent on your website. The first is to include well written articles which are captivating and easy to read. They must provide information and news that is relevant and new to customers and keeps them interested in staying on your site. Our team of scuba diving writers are professionals at providing our clients with exactly this type of articles and content for their websites.
Another great way to increase time spent on a page is by embedding relevant, high quality videos on a site. The dive industry is especially good for this. People can read about the visibility and the marine life in an area all day, but when they can see it, you are ahead of the game. If you can put a video that is a few minutes long that highlights the diving in your area on the front page of your website you will not only showcase the diving in your area, but increase the amount of time people spend sitting there watching the video, which will in turn increase your page rank for relevant keywords.
Another thing that webmasters should do when they are creating content, is that if you are providing links that take visitors away from the page that they are on, to open these pages in a new window. This allows visitors to still remain on your site while they look at which ever page you sent them to. If your page did not remain open and they simply left your site, the chances of that visitor clicking back numerous times, or returning to google to find your site again is much less likely.
I can say for myself, that I am not as good of a content writer as the writers which I have hired to be part of this team. I understand the importance of high quality, readable articles though and have chosen to make this a priority in the service I offer my scuba diving clients. Here is an example of a website I have created and incorporated a video onto the front page in order to increase the time that visitors are spending on the website itself. (Scuba Diving in Costa Rica video is from the Catalina Islands)