One of the biggest challenges all website owners and bloggers face is keeping visitors/readers on their site.
In an ideal world we want someone to land on one of our pages, enjoy our content and click-through to another page to read more, and to keep clicking until they take a positive action such as make a purchase, join a mailing list, subscribe to a feed, download an ebook or make a connection in another way.
Typically, what happens is somebody lands on a page, reads (skims) the content and either clicks away or has a brief look at another page before leaving.
Sometimes this happens because there are no obvious ways to find more content. There are no links within the post, there is no ‘related posts’ section at the end of the article and the sidebar is full of adverts.
Other times people leave because the content is crap or it doesn’t provide the answers or information they are looking for.
It’s important to understand how people interact with your site. If you have a lot of visitors leaving after just a few seconds you have some serious issues to attend to.
Use Google Analytics to find out.
Gather data from Google Analytics
In Google Analytics there are a few metrics you can look at to see how long people stay on your site, and from those reports you can get a feel for weak-spots and for the overall usefulness of a site/page.
One report to look at is Landing Pages, which is located in Content > Site Content > Landing Pages and the metrics to find are Pages/Visit, Bounce Rate and Average Visit Duration.
- The Pages/Visit metric shows the average number of pages each visitor looks at during their visit.
- The Bounce Rate metric shows the percentage of visitors who look just at one page, the page they landed on, before leaving the site.
- Average Visit Duration shows how long, on average, people stay on the site.
In the first report and last reports, the higher the number the better, and in the middle report, the lower the number the better.
It’s also worth looking at the data in the All Pages report, as this provides an overview of all your content, and not the pages people are first landing on and what they do next.
When you have this data you get a feel for the stickiness of your site and you should be able to answer the question – do people stick around or do they very quickly leave?
Of course, there is the argument that the visitor found the answer to their question or a solution to their problem so why should they stick around? The answer is there is no reason, but you should try to give them one as this may be the only opportunity you ever have to grab their attention.
What can you do to entice people to stick around and read more of your content?
The first thing is to have realistic expectations. Most people who visit websites read a very small number of pages, and the majority of the time they read just one page (the one they land on). These are casual visitors who are in search of information. However, there is also the ‘prospect’ visitor – they read several pages, and may return a number of times before taking any action. They want to get to know you and your business to see if they trust and like you enough to put work your way.
Here are a few suggestions on getting people to stay on your site:
Interlink your content
In every post you publish place links to more of your own content. Ideally you should link to another post on a similar topic, but you can also link to categories and/or tags. The big plus-point to this method is that the links are placed right in front of visitors – they don’t have to look for them – and they have some SEO value too.
The length of the link, the link text and the location of the link makes a massive difference to the number of clicks a link gets. Hubspot recently published a very interesting case study on the type of blog post link that generates clicks.
Related posts plugin
Using a plugin to display a list of related posts at the bottom of each post is another good method to use. A possible downside to this is that readers may not see the list. To make the list more noticeable try using a related posts plugin that displays thumbnail images and not just a list of text links.
Display post meta data
Some blogs display post meta data at the start or the end of each post. This data typically contains links to the post’s category and tags. They are a good way to encourage people to find out more about a particular topic, but, they can look ugly if you use a lot of tags (personally, I prefer not to display this data).
People tag in different ways. Some use one-word tags (accessories, beauty, food) and some people use multi-word tags (fashion accessories, beauty tips, vegetarian food). I prefer the latter method as the first is just too vague.
Most related posts plugins use tags (and sometimes categories) to create the list of related posts, so the more targeted your tagging is, the more relevant the related post links will be.
Sidebar and footer widgets
Most websites/blogs have at least one sidebar and a footer. Use this space to your advantage.
Using a widget, create a list of links and point them to your most important pages or pages that newbies should read first (if your site is large enough you could create a specific page for this purpose). The list doesn’t have to be very long and having a good call to action as the anchor text may encourage clicks.
I hope these tips have given you a few ideas on how to increase the stickiness of your site? If you have any more suggestions, please feel free to leave a comment below.
Photo – Ke Wynn