So, what makes people click the back button? What can you do to make your visitors stay beyond the first few seconds? We live in a world of instant gratification and infinite distraction. From steady streams of information to constant interruptions from our phones, it’s not surprising that the human attention span is now less than that of a goldfish. Every website’s goal is to cut through that noise, grab a user’s attention, and hold on to it for as long as possible. Longer visits don’t just translate to more engagements and conversions — they also mean better search rankings on Google. Visitor behavior can dictate the ultimate success or failure of your website. The amount of traffic you receive does play a role in the amount of revenue you can generate, but even the highest level of traffic won’t mean much if you can’t lead that traffic to convert.
The longer your users stay on your site, the better chances you’ll have to convert them, and the more familiar they’re going to become with your brand. Bounce rates, an indication of traffic leaving instead of venturing further into your site, can wreak havoc on your onsite revenue, but there are several strategies you can use to keep your visitors on your site for longer. High bounce rates — that is, a large percentage of visitors who fail to engage with more than one page on your site — are a common problem plaguing small-business websites. Our number one goal for your website should be conversions. Whether they are email signups, purchases, or lead submissions. Google loves websites that keep people engaged, and they heavily favor and reward you in terms of how your site shows up in the search engine if you keep people on your site longer than your competition.
If anything, Google might penalize you. The problem is that most of us have no idea how to improve our “average time on site” numbers, and we certainly don’t have time to do trial and error all day long until we figure it out. There is often a direct correlation between the quality of leads and how much time they have spent on your website. Using most analytics tools, marketers can report accurately on key metrics, all of which represent engagement. Measuring page views, CTA clicks, and form submissions will help to show how well your website is performing overall. The more time visitors spend on site, the more likely they are to consume your content, research your solutions, and ultimately convert into a lead.
Here are some ways you can keep visitors on your site for a little longer time:
Know Your Audience
Everything about your website, from its colour scheme, font sizes to its contents and tone of voice, needs to speak to your target market. If your website tries to speak to everyone on the planet, you will end up not engaging anyone in particular. Don’t be afraid to really zoom in and be specific about the ideal client you want to serve. In fact, the more specific you can be the better. What type of person is accessing your site? If you don’t have a clear answer, you need to address the problem of your target audience. Websites work best when they are written and designed for a specific type of user, rather than the vaguest demographic of “everyone.” If you can appeal to that specific demographic, you’ll keep your users interested and present on your site for a longer period of time.
Speed Up Your Site
We live in a fast-pace world. People are busy. Your website needs to load quickly or your visitors will go somewhere else. Nobody has the patience to wait for a slow web page to load, especially if they’re browsing your site on a mobile device. Do a website spring clean to make sure nothing is slowing your site down. If your site is slow and you can’t figure out why, hire professional help. This is always a good idea. Modern digital users are impatient, and even the smallest delays could impact a portion of your user base. Imagine pulling a page up on your mobile device and experiencing aggravatingly slow load times. You probably wouldn’t want to continue onto another page of the site.
Clean up your website by reducing image sizes, using a caching plugin, and keeping your code clear of any unnecessary inclusions. As a useful side effect, you’ll also get a boost in search rankings. This is one of the most overlooked, yet incredibly important, pieces of the Internet puzzle. And having a fast site is crucial for two reasons: If your site takes more than a couple seconds to load, most people will leave. No one has patience for slow sites, so don’t be that site that feels like it is on dial-up. Google also places quite a bit of favor in their ranking algorithm on faster loading sites. Keep in mind that Google’s #1 Mission is to give an incredible user experience, and showing the Google users a website that is incredibly slow, doesn’t fit in well with their overall goals. So having a slow site will hurt how your site ranks.
If you’ve ever clicked a seemingly innocuous link only to find an unwieldy block of text, you should understand how important readability is in keeping visitors. If the simple act of reading your content feels laborious, users will leave your website in search of the same information somewhere else. To make information easy to find, try using bullet points and descriptive subheadings. It’s pretty well known that most people don’t actually read on the web — they scan and pick up the bits and pieces they’re looking for. By tailoring your format to suit online reading habits, you can create more engaging elements for your visitors and significantly reduce bounce rates.
Typos and poor grammar send out the wrong signals to your visitors. This is all about trust: if people are going to part with their hard-earned cash, they need to trust your business. Spelling errors and grammatical mistakes make your company appear less trustworthy. A recent study revealed that over half of the participants would not use a company that had obvious grammatical or spelling mistakes on its website, saying that they wouldn’t trust the company to provide a good quality service. Text that’s difficult to read is an instant turn-off for almost any visitor. First and foremost, make sure you have a color that shows up legibly on any device—and that includes both the color of the text and the color of your background. Next, make sure your font is large enough and readable enough to draw a user further into your site. Remember, that goes for both headlines and body copy.
This is a relatively straightforward tactic, but if you neglect it, you’ll be missing out on a significant stream of user engagement with your site. Find ways to interlink your pages with hyperlinks to draw users deeper into your site. All topics that may have interested you and kept you on the site longer. Instead, you get your information and leave, contributing to the site’s high bounce rate. One simple way to keep people on your site longer is to add internal links to other related pages throughout your site. Though these links also provide some search engine optimization (SEO) value, it’s important to structure them with the goal of helping your readers find other information they’ll like. Don’t use this as an opportunity to keyword-stuff your links full of SEO phrases. To keep visitors on your site as long as possible, we want them to flow from one article to the next.
A great way to achieve that is to use what’s called internal linking. It is simply the practice of linking from one post to another. These internal links encourage your visitors to click to another article and keep reading. Create links between your pages and posts. You can do so manually using WordPress’s link creator in the visual editor. But if you have a lot of content, this can be a time consuming process. The SEO Internal Links plugin helps by automating this process. To piggyback off the previous point, you can prioritize key website pages through internal links within content. This can be done on blog posts and key website pages, where you want to provide the reader more information on a certain topic. Internal links significantly increase page views and will drive visitors deeper into the website. When doing so, be sure to use compelling, keyword-rich anchor text to show the topic of the next page but also provide SEO value.
Displaying too many advertisements on your site can make it look spammy and distracting, making it difficult for your visitors to navigate around your site. Ads which contain a lot of movement are particularly bad. Having too many ads on your site also makes it slower to load. Monetising your site is a good idea, but do be considerate to your visitors. Spend some time to think about where to strategically place the ads. It’s rare to find a visitor who’ll sit captivated by a 2,500-word article, but present the same story in a video, infographic or image gallery, and you’ll find a whole lot more willingness to stick around. Who doesn’t love a good animal video? Our brains gravitate toward novelty, so don’t be afraid to experiment with new and unusual ways of getting your message across. Multimedia files tend to hold viewers’ attention for longer. Try experimenting with everything from embedded video clips to slideshow presentations to podcasts to image galleries.
Measure the impact of these additions on your site’s “stickiness” metrics to determine which techniques to use again. Not everyone likes to read. Some people prefer listening to audio or watching videos. Producing your content across multiple mediums will help keep more of your visitors engaged longer. This may seem like quite a bit of work, but here’s a tip smart business owners use: repurpose content. Instead of creating new content for each medium, they will repurpose content they created in one medium and produce it in another. More than half of surveyed executives said they’d rather watch a video than read text, while four times as many consumers would rather watch a video about a product then read about it. Are you giving your visitors that option? To create videos, you can simply repurpose your text-based content into presentation videos.
Easy Navigation And User Experience
Your website may have clever interactivity or state-of-the-art animation, but if it doesn’t engage your visitors and make them stay beyond the initial few seconds, you will have lost them forever. Make sure your website is easy to navigate and your visitors can find the information they need quickly without having to drill down too many levels. Use images and white space to provide a layout that’s easy on the eye. Too much text will send your readers to sleep. Use categories and your website’s navigation hierarchy to group contents in a logical way. Make it easy for your visitors to contact you or they’ll take their business elsewhere. Your navigation is a roadmap that tells your users where to go and what they can find. If any part of your navigation is inaccurate or non-intuitive, your users aren’t going to find what they’re looking for. Keep your navigation clean, with the initial heading containing only broad categories, and keep your page distinctions concise, so users can easily tell where to go.
If you can optimize your navigation for site exploration, you’ll have won half the battle. Elements such as navigation should be as intuitive as possible. When you have a website that is hard to navigate, visitors are likely to just leave. Whether that be product information, support, or their online store. Think about your most important pages on your site. Perhaps your blog, contact page, and about page. Make sure those are in your navigation bar and properly labelled. If you have additional pages, be sure to add them, but don’t crowd your navigation bar. You can always use sub-menus. An easy to navigate site not only means that it is clutter-free and easy to find everything, but it is also imperative that you don’t have any broken links, and that you make it seamless to find what your visitor is looking for. Making your site easy to navigate is one the overall best ways to keep visitors on your website longer.
Don’t assume your visitors will know automatically what to do. You need to tell them. Want them to sign up to your newsletter? Say so with a clear call-to-action button. Give them an incentive to do so. Want them to ask for a quote? Tell them where to go to fill in the form, or display your telephone number clearly. Sometimes users leave your site simply because they weren’t told to do anything else. Providing clear calls to action in the body of your content can compel users to continue further in your site. When is the perfect time to ask a visitor to take an action on your site? Just after they’ve finished reading an article. At that moment, they are the most engaged with what you have to say (otherwise, they wouldn’t have read the entire article). It is at that point they are likely to take an action. However, very few sites capitalize on this opportunity.
But the ones that do find it highly effective. They may include an action box for a newsletter signup, a contact button, or even a purchase button. As mentioned before, the ultimate goal for website visitors is conversion. It’s important to drive relevant traffic to your site that is qualified to convert through content downloads and sales-related offers. To accomplish this, add enticing CTAs to key website pages and blog posts. Be sure to align the content based on personas as to be most relevant and yield the highest click-through rate possible. These offers will undoubtedly keep visitors engaged and on the site longer, ultimately converting them as a lead. The best time to ask your visitors to take action is just after they’ve finished reading a blog post. One of the best ways to combat this visitor ignorance is by using a slide-in opt-in. An animated slide-in grabs attention without disturbing your audience.
Optimized For Mobile
This goes without saying in 2015, but your site needs to be optimized for mobile devices. If your site isn’t easy to use on a smartphone or a tablet, you’re going to lose out on a massive share of users. Plus, non-mobile-optimized sites get a ranking penalty from Google, so you might also suffer from reduced initial traffic.