Suppose you visited a website named Girl with a Pearl Earring, thinking it was for the book or movie and found a blog about a girl and her jewelry. How long would you stay?
Your answer would probably be, “Hmmm, not very long.” And because of this, the site would have a high bounce rate and overall low engagement.
Well, let’s assume your website’s name does the content justice and that you’ve already created great content. Yet, you might be having trouble keeping visitors on your site and viewing more pages per visit, and you’re not sure why.
Generating engagement isn’t always easy. Your readers need to be able to find your content, deem it interesting, and go on to read more.
What can you do to make this magical process occur?
Here are 7 ways to increase website engagement:
1. Check the health of your site.
Let’s play out a quick scenario: A visitor is led to your site because he clicked on a link via a tweet. If he sees some interesting content related to the article he’s reading, he might click on the link to read more. Now, what if that link leads him to a 404 error? He’s likely to leave, and consequently view less pages and spend a shorter time on site.
Engagement on your site is all interconnected; one bad apple (or link) can spoil whole bunch (a visitor’s experience on your site).
If your site is experiencing a high bounce rate, minimal time onsite as well as a small number of pages per visit, this could be directly related to poor site health. I’ve made the case before, repairing “not found” errors and fixing duplicate page titles and content can greatly improve your site’s relationship with Google (e.g., SEO) and your users’ visit.
2. Optimize your post for search engines (and social media).
Don’t let your article disappear the minute after you hit publish. Optimizing a post for search engines and social sharing can help you get more mileage out of every piece of content and increase engagement on your site.
If you can make content more compelling, it’s more likely to be clicked and more likely to be shared. Mastering this (or even getting some expertise in the area) can increase time on site and pages per visit. The main idea here is to have a great headline, use keywords throughout your post, and bold key sentences that also include target keyword(s). Once you’ve created an SEO friendly post, share away on any and all platforms where you deem the post (and/or topic) relevant.
3. Link to other articles on your site.
This one is as simple as it sounds. If you write an article, say on SEO, go through your site and find other posts that talk about SEO and link them in meaningful ways (e.g., don’t go crazy and link every single word to a different post—this will probably have the opposite effect of the engagement you want).
Another cool linking technique is brackets. Including brackets at the end of a paragraph grabs the reader’s attention and may make them more likely to click.[For more on linking check out this post: Internal Links| SEO Best Practices]
4. Check Google Analytics.
If you’re not already checking your Google Analytics dashboard(s) daily, you should get in the habit of doing so. And, if anything, you should explore it monthly to see which articles are performing well and which ones aren’t. Perhaps you think your “How To” posts are the best on your site and are receiving the majority of your site’s pageviews. But what if that’s the opposite?
Checking your content report can give you some insight in what content you should be producing more of, and well, some content you can put less time and effort into.
5. Make use of social sharing buttons.
What do social icons have to do with onsite engagement? Well, showing the number of comments, tweets, likes, and so forth immediately tells readers, “Hey, there’s a meaningful discussion going on and it’s worth taking a look.” Twitter buttons alone can increase sharing sevenfold. Another use for these buttons is that if your content is good enough, people will feel compelled to share which will allow you to see what posts your readers deem share-worthy –and which types of articles you should write more of.
If you don’t have a little blue bird, a blue thumbs up, or anything of the like somewhere in your post, this could pose a problem if you want to gain some engagement.
6. Ask users what they want through blog posts or Facebook posts.
Going straight to the source might be the best way for your site to improve onsite engagement. Asking visitors what posts they like best or what they’d like to see more of could help you improve time onsite, pages per visit, and bounce rate. If your readers think your content is more relevant, compelling, or perhaps just prettier (e.g., you add a few more pictures throughout your post) this could make all the difference from a bad visit to a good visit.
7. Add recommended articles at the end of posts.
Having related articles or articles that others have ventured to after reading the current piece will increase pages per visit and time onsite. At the end of this post you’ll see, “People, who read this post, also read these…” Since adding this feature, pages per visit on Engage have notably risen. This is helpful for first time visitors to your site (and even for veterans). Putting more great content right in front of your visitors as well as showing them what like-minded individuals read next will entice them to explore—especially if you have a great headline and image to match.
You’ve already conquered the first challenge: getting people to your site and getting your name out there. The next hurdle is compelling people to stay there. Don’t let visitors slip through the cracks![Image: Nieve44]