The longer a visitor stays on your website, the greater chance they have of clicking links, visiting landing pages, and accepting offers. You may have already optimized your website in several ways, including for SEO ranking and for higher conversions on the traffic you get. But when it comes to making someone stay longer, and for more people to take your offer seriously before they choose to bounce, there are a couple of strategies that perfectly overlap with the great web design you might already have, or know that you need.

Forget about gimmicks, phony widgets, and burying the lead. Instead, take a look at our strategies and get your page duration up ethically, effectively, and with minimal changes to your current web design.

Valuable Content

The number one reason people stay on a webpage is not because of its attractive design, although that certainly contributes. The real reason is that the content is too entertaining, interesting, useful, compelling, etc. to leave, and that needs to be your intended user experience for each of your important pages. Keep in mind that it can’t be a random guess as to what your audience wants. Create content that you know serves your target audience in the way that they prefer.

There’s no reason not to try text content like long guides and articles, as these naturally invite people to stay a while and read them. However, don’t leave digital media behind. For instance, space out your long articles with attractive images that either suit the content or visualize complex data points. Embed videos by your business or others that contribute to the point being made. This adds more variety to the experience and keeps readers from getting bored.

Remember the key word for this tactic: valuable. Sleazy tactics, like misleading titles and padding out your content with fluff, are not going to earn you page duration or engagement, and neither will shallow, high-output strategies that make huge amounts of low-value content.

Readability and User Experience

Image via Flickr by jm3

Think about your own web browsing habits. What sort of things annoy you about websites and make you choose to back out? Annoying ads that slow down the page, ugly visuals, poor web design that isn’t responsive with your device, and other issues whittle away at a visitor’s patience, so take a closer look at your own site’s design and get some independent opinions from people who aren’t biased in your favor.

Load time is crucial to user experience, and you never want traffic with slower connections to be negatively affected. Only include images at a reasonable size, and if you have a lot of content to load, consider designing it in a more unified format. Timeline infographics are a great way to take what might include dozens of assets and text sections coded on the site directly and turn it into a single image, which is far easier to load.

Analytics will also provide insights into polishing up your website for visitors. You might discover, for instance, that one of the links that people click the most is actually buried far down on a page, or that the pages people spend the most time on are not the first ones usually seen by your traffic. From these sorts of data points, you can optimize your website and improve it in ways you didn’t realize could help.

The Importance of Video

The simple truth is that video convinces people to stick around. Video content is growing into an even more dominant form of traffic, and it may pay off to find affordable, scalable ways of producing video content as an alternative or supplement to all the content you already make. You might produce two blog posts a week, for example, but some visitors will not be in the mood to read. If you create and embed a short video that advertises the key points of the content, you may convince those people to read the full piece for details.

Final Tips

Before we finish up, here are a collection of smaller, simpler, but still powerful bits of advice on increasing user page duration. If you already have the fundamentals above working for you, make sure each of these points also match with your content strategy.

  1. Add a few internal links to every page. Many visitors open links in other tabs and go to read those for a while. This means the original page is staying on the visitor’s browser for much longer, and that they’re likely to come back to read more.
  2. Encourage people to bookmark a page, if appropriate. In addition to raising return traffic, it sends the message that people should spend more time looking at it.
  3. Allow and encourage comments on as many pages as possible. People love to stick around and read comments or type up their own, and such behavior improves your website’s SEO ranking in Google.
  4. Use lightboxes designed to appear when a visitor is about to hit the back button, showing off an appealing, relevant offer that they could sign up for. This may earn you a lead and convince the person to stay, but be reasonable. Avoid annoying, aggressive tactics such as back button redirects, or you will vastly reduce your return traffic.
  5. Demonstrate credibility with social proof, such as images of awards in the sidebar or top menu, or making your social share buttons and their metrics more visible.
  6. Check on old pages every few months and update them as needed. If someone visits your website and even gets the impression that your advice, perspectives, ideas, etc. are outdated, they’ll go back and look for something more recent. Stay in the loop on every topic you create content for and learn what people are saying now that they weren’t back when you hit publish. Update the work and consider adding the actual date next to the updated section. This proves to viewers that even your old content is cared for and worth checking out.

Websites are like a digital storefront, and if you don’t want people to walk back out from a poor first impression, analyze that storefront and figure out how it could better serve customers. Good luck, and remember that valuable content is the foundation of an enthralling webpage. Focus on creating detailed and visually diverse content, like infographics and slideshow-style guides, or on implementing such content into your current strategy, and you should see an increase in user page duration.