How to increase the time visitors spend on your site
Finding out that visitors spend very little time on your site can be discouraging. You’ve put in hours of work building your ideal website, perfecting your messaging, and creating your content—yet, visitors aren’t spending time on your site. Here’s how you can encourage your visitors to spend more time on your site.
Clearly understand your metrics
Before making any sweeping changes to encourage visitors to stick around your site longer, it’s important to understand the metrics you’re using to measure time on site. Most marketers use a combination of Google Analytics’ average time on page and average session duration metrics, but these metrics can be misleading. We’ve written about this topic in depth, but in short, these metrics often underestimate time on site, as Google Analytics is unable to track the time spent on the last page of each visit.
If your site has a high bounce rate (that is, a high number of single-page visits), or contains many longer form articles, you’ll want to implement interaction events to increase the accuracy of these metrics. You might just find that visitors are spending more time on your site than you thought!
Create longer, more interesting content for your visitors
Longer content typically equates to longer time on site—after all, it takes longer to read 1,000 words than 500. By creating longer form content, there is more reason for visitors to stay on your site for longer periods of time. Simple, right?
As you can probably guess, there’s more to it than just adding more words to your blog post or splicing more stock footage into your videos. Not all content is created equal, and having long articles with no substance isn’t going to keep visitors on your site for longer—in fact, it’ll likely dissuade them from sticking around. In order for longer content to have its intended effect, it needs to offer more value; visitors don’t want to waste time on content that’s uninteresting or unhelpful.
Simply put, your content needs to earn your visitors’ time. The one tried-and-true way to do this is to understand what your visitors are looking for, and cater to those needs. So how can you get better acquainted with your audience?
Conduct keyword research
You likely already do keyword research so you know what terms to optimize your content for. However, in addition to researching for SEO purposes, good content marketers will use keywords as an indicator of search intent—that is, using keyword research techniques to not only discover what your audience is searching for, but also why. Want to learn more? Check out our post on using Google Trends’ Explore function to find out how your potential visitors are looking for content online.
Get ideas from competitors
If you’re not regularly conducting a content marketing competitive analysis, consider implementing it as part of your content ideation routine. Aside from staying on top of your competition, you can learn a lot from other publishers in your industry. Just like you, your competitors likely have a general sense of what content is and isn’t effective. By analyzing the types of content they publish and which pieces are effective, you can find fresh ideas for your own content efforts.
Analyze your highly engaging content
It’s unlikely that every piece of content you’ve produced is unengaging or uninteresting. Revisit your highly engaging content and try to determine why they capture your audience’s interest. Is it the format of the content? The subject matter? The writing style? Once you’ve determined that, incorporate those elements into your new content to continue engaging your visitors.
Leave no dead ends
Through all our work with our various clients, we always try to maintain a “no dead ends” policy. This means that after reading, watching, or otherwise consuming a piece of content, readers should have the opportunity to further engage with your brand or website. Whether suggesting that readers purchase a product, read more blog posts, or learn more about a service, ensuring that visitors have clear next steps is paramount to encouraging your audience to spend more time exploring everything your site has to offer. Here are a few ways to display these options to your audience:
Add a “related posts” section to your content
This is one of the most common ways to increase visitors’ time on site, and one of the most effective. Visitors who finish reading to the end of a blog post, or watch to the end of a video, show that they have an interest in the topic of your content. By immediately introducing stories or videos on a similar topic, you can encourage them to spend more time viewing relevant content.
Use internal links
When adding links for further information to your text-based content, use internal links (links that go to other pages on your site), rather than external links (links that take visitors offsite) where possible. This reduces the opportunity for engaged visitors to leave your site.
Implement clear calls to action
Finally, be direct with your audience by implementing clear calls to action. Ultimately, your visitors can’t read your mind—if you want them to follow up with next steps, you need to tell them exactly what you want them to do. Whether you’d like your audience to purchase a product, sign up for a demo, or download a resource, the best way to do it is often with a clear call to action.