Here at Wistia, we put a lot of time and effort into creating video content for our own website. With our own analytics, we can assess how engaged our audience is and whether or not our videos are driving conversions.
But we wanted to know more about the impact of video on our pages.
We looked at data from the highest-trafficked 100 pages from June 2013 to July 2016, and focused specifically on time on page.
This figure shows the average time spent on page for each of the top 100 pages, in descending order. There is a much higher concentration of pages with video (blue) on the left, correlating with more time spent on the page.
When we take the average of the total time spent on pages with video, and those without, we see that in general, viewers spend more time on pages with video.
Looking at the numbers, we concluded:
- The average time spent on pages with video is 7 minutes and 21 seconds.
- The average time spent on pages without video is 2 minutes and 48 seconds.
People spent on average 2.6x more time on pages with video than without. That's pretty bananas.
So it appears that having video on a page (assuming it's useful and/or engaging) correlates with more time spent on the page. Now the question becomes, why should we care?
Why does time on page matter?
There are lots of different metrics in Google Analytics that people use to measure how well content is doing, but time on page seems particularly linked to video. One might assume that long videos keep readers on a page longer. But what about short videos? Multiple videos?
Interestingly, the top three pages with the highest average time spent on page all had multiple videos.
7 GoPro Lessons I Learned from Pretending to Be a Videographer for a Week had an average of 32:54 minutes spent on page. There are 3 videos on the page, totaling 1:04 of video (0:17 + 0:24 + 0:23).
How to Stitch GoPro Footage into 360 Spherical Video had an average of 19:42 minutes spent on page. There are 3 videos on the page, totaling 9:32 of video (7:53 + 1:22 + 0:17).
Lighting on the Fly had an average of 13:48 minutes spent on page. There are 3 videos on the page, totaling 4:18 of video (1:06 + 0:43 + 2:29).
From just looking at these pages, it doesn't seem like there's a direct correlation between longer videos and more time spent on page. In fact, the page with the longest average time on page only had about a minute of video total.
In our case, our content containing multiple videos is often teaching a process step by step and providing visual examples along the way. It's not surprising that this results in more time on page.
Dwell time may contribute to better organic rankings
While we'll never know the exact formula of how Google determines search engine rankings, in 2012 Google tested a feature where if you clicked on a search result then quickly returned to the search engine results page (SERP), you would get an option to block the site. This feature indicated that Google might use something called dwell time as part of their equation.
Dwell time is defined as a measure of how long it takes for someone to return to the SERP after clicking a result, and it seems to be a combination of bounce rate and time on site metrics. It's a user metric, meaning Google is trying to determine intent based on data.
Their algorithm tries to assess what time on page and bounce rate really mean. They're imperfect measurements, but the trend seems obvious—more time on page is generally a good thing. And in our case, having more videos helped to improve that good thing.
So while it was never confirmed whether or not dwell time is part of the algorithm, it seems obvious that engagement bodes well for organic rankings. From our experience, we can tell you that pages with longer dwell times also tend to get a lot of traffic from search engines.
Is a longer visit an engaged one?
More time on page can be great and mean that people find value in your content, but it can sometimes indicate that people aren't finding what they need on your page.
For example, say you have a help doc that answers FAQs from customers. If the average time on page for this page is very high, that is likely a sign that you're missing something. Whether it's reformatting or adding more information, there are ways you can be making the value of this page more evident to your readers.
Here are a couple great tools that can help you find out how your readers are doing.
Olark lets you chat directly with your customers to answer any questions they have and learn where they're having trouble. You can even see what pages they've viewed to better help guide your responses.
ReadMe has a feature that allows your readers to provide suggested edits. This is an easy way for your readers to let you know how you could improve a page.
FullStory helps you determine where your visitors are getting stuck by working like a DVR. You can record people's site visits to see if they're clicking around and get an idea of what they're looking for.
If the page in question has one tutorial video, then it might make sense to compare the length of this video with the time spent on page to determine whether or not something is wrong. If you only have one video on the page and it's only about a minute long, but the average time on page is much longer than that, you might want to find out why.
Video provides value
It's undeniable that having relevant video on your page increases the value your reader gets from your content. Our data suggests that it also keeps visitors around for longer. The more time people spend engaged with your content, the more time they have to familiarize themselves with your brand and potentially notice and act upon a call to action. If you're looking to really take advantage of the engaging power of video, place that call to action right within the video that's holding their attention. Now you're cookin'!
We knew that if you made it this far, an engaging video would be the best way to keep you around for longer. Naturally, we decided to go with the most entrancing thing we could think of—our CEO awkwardly playing an amateur rendition of "Brian Wilson" on an out-of-tune guitar. He knows it "by heart."