Google’s Magic G-bounce (“Dwell”) Time: 7.5 minutes

by Gradiva Couzin on November 9, 2011

Upon bouncing back to Google from a search result, you may see a notice allowing you to block that domain from future Google results.  Or you may see a notice encouraging you to +1 that domain.  It all depends on the amount of time you spent on the page.

Google is well aware of what listings searchers click after performing a Google search.  But did you know Google continues to care what a user does after clicking on a listing?  The search engine monitors whether the user clicks right back to Google, and even pays attention to the length of time the user spent on a site.

Here’s an example.  After searching for “eco-friendly down comforters” I clicked a page on the domain www.beddingdowncomforters.com, reviewed it briefly, and clicked the Back button to return to Google.  This is known as a G-bounce. When I landed back on the Google search results page, Google had added the message ” – Block all www.beddingdowncomforters.com results” to the listing:

Click on the “Block…”  link, and you’ll never be bothered by this website’s listings again.

Later, I was searching for “how to decant wine” and clicked on wineintro.com.   I spent a long time on the page and eventually clicked the Back button to return to Google.  Upon landing back on my Google results page, I saw a popup suggesting that I +1 the site on Google:

 

This experience got me wondering:  How long do I need to spend on a website before Google stops suggesting I block it, but instead suggests that I +1 it?  What is that magic length of G-bounce time that Google deems to represent a successful website experience?

I tested it out by G-bouncing after various lengths of time, and here’s what I found:

  • 15 seconds — block
  • 30 seconds — block
  • 45 seconds — block
  • 1 minute — block
  • 1 minute 15 seconds — block
  • 1 minute 30 seconds — block
  • 2 minutes — no message
  • 3 minutes — no message
  • 4 minutes — no message
  • 7 minutes — no message
  • 7 minutes + 30 seconds – no message
  • 7 minutes + 40 seconds –  +1 message
  • 8 minutes – +1 message

So apparently, according to Google, the 1-1/2 minute mark is where a site goes from hateworthy to just OK, and at the 7-1/2 minute G-bounce mark, the site has clearly served you well and deserves a +1 for its trouble.

I anyone else seeing these same times?  Different ones?

UPDATE:  Bing and Google reps discuss the “dwell time” signal about 5 minutes into this discussion at SXSW: http://searchengineland.com/too-much-seo-google%E2%80%99s-working-on-an-%E2%80%9Cover-optimization%E2%80%9D-penalty-for-that-115627

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Vijay November 17, 2011 at 10:45 pm

Hi,
I experienced the same things… But Google asks to log in first, as if one wants to block the particular site.
Nice Information. Would like to know How it could affect on SEO ?

Thanks,
Vijay

Gradiva Couzin November 18, 2011 at 3:44 pm

Hi Vijay,

I would say that the main takeaway from an SEO perspective is that Google is aware of, and highly interested in, how long your site visitors stay on your pages before bouncing back to Google.

Keep in mind that Google’s goal is to provide the best possible search results to its users. If I was Google, I would probably take a skeptical look at any site that has been blocked by many visitors. Perhaps I would reduce its ranks, either across the boards or for the specific keywords in question. I would be surprised if Google is not using this crowdsourced information in some way to improve its search listings for other users.

So what can you do about it? Simple: don’t try to rank well for terms for which your site does not provide good quality content. Think to yourself: If I was a searcher, and I searched for {keyword}, would I be happy about landing on this page? If the answer is “no,” then don’t bother trying to rank well for that keyword. You’ll be fighting against the current anyway, and if a poor user-experience leads to people blocking your site, you may even hurt your site’s positions for other, better-matched search queries.

Gradiva

Vijay December 4, 2011 at 10:43 am

Hi Gradiva,

I must say Thanks for giving me such a great reply!! Nice explanation and descriptive information. I agree that Google is most probably use that information for SERP’s.

Regards,
Vijay

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