Many website owners and web publishers put a great deal of emphasis on traffic. Most of the time these numbers are enough to grab advertisers, but some want to know that those people landing on the page are actually staying there, reading the content, and moving forward in making a real decision.
After all, it doesn’t really matter how many people click on your blog if they are in and out in less than five seconds. Who has time to look at an advertisement or read your content in five seconds?
This makes what is known as “time on site” very important. You want to create a sticky website or a website where readers will want to stay for a long time. There are a few different ways you can make this happen.
How to create a sticky website
For those who are unfamiliar, time on site refers to quite literally the amount of time, in minutes, seconds, or hours, that someone is looking around a website even if they keep bouncing from one page to another (your bounce rate refers to the percent of visitors who come to your website and leave without navigating to any other pages, so it’s slightly different).
Below are a few different ways to improve your time on site numbers:
1. Work on your site load time and usability
Usability is crucial if you want people to stick around and continue engaging with the page.
Improve your load time so people do not get frustrated and leave immediately.
There is a chance that your webpage hasn’t loaded for a visitor yet and they leave, but this will count toward your time on site number. A good way to improve your loading times is to get rid of unnecessary plugins, optimize your code and images, get started with a content delivery network, etc.
Getting this aspect of SEO under control isn’t too difficult as long as you keep consistent. The first step is always to determine the current load time of your website. After all, you can’t fix a problem until you know your current status and what’s causing that problem. The easiest way to do this is to use a tool such as Google Pagespeed Insights in order to determine where exactly you need to make changes.
Once you run this report, you will find a few different things that will help your website load times speed up and stay quick:
- Image Optimization. This is probably the number one reason that websites struggle with load times. You want your website to have a lot of great images to catch a reader’s attention, but these images take a lot of time to load. You don’t necessarily need to remove these images, however, all you need to do is optimize them. You can make this happen by using different tools to compress your images and file sizes (without changing the look of your site).
- Decrease HTTP Requests. This point has to do with the code of your website. An HTTP request is essentially a way of talking about the things that are needed to deliver your website to users. One of the easiest ways to do this is by compressing and/or combining your CSS files. Depending on your CMS, you can find plugins and apps that can help you get started and help you learn more about how to combine CSS files as well as convert graphical text to CSS text.
In the end, the importance of website loading time is only going to increase. People now have more and more choices online when it comes time to find information, and a fast loading time could be the deciding factor. Google has now made this a part of their ranking algorithm, so this will also help you gain top rankings for increased clicks.
2. Use internal linking
Utilize internal linking so that your readers know exactly where to go to learn more. The idea is that they turn to your site to learn more and not back to Google search.
Linking within the body of a piece of content is a great way to keep readers on your site. These are called “internal links,” and you will want to make sure they are related to the topic of the text.
Readers will typically be very annoyed if they click on a link within the body of the text and it has absolutely nothing to do with what they’re reading. However, if you can make sure the links are of value to readers, they will likely want to click every link within the body in order to gain as much information as possible.
Creating a section at the bottom or on the side of an article with “related articles” is a great way to keep your readers engaged. Most visitors are naturally drawn to photos, so if you can create a photo for each related article you’re sure to get a few more clicks than if someone had to find the related articles on their own. I like to think of this like YouTube—you keep clicking and clicking and before you know it you’ve been on the site for hours.
3. Embed multi-media content
Include lots of video content and infographics to make your text more interesting.
Videos are naturally more interesting than traditional content, so this is sure to increase your time on site. You may want to consider putting your video in the middle or at the end of an article so that readers have an idea about what they can expect to see.
Typical Internet users are not interested in waiting around for a video to load when they don’t know what to expect, so it’s best to create some engaging content and then create a video for users if they want to learn more.
Infographics work the same way—they make complicated information easier to understand. It draws readers in and because an infographic is easier to read than a block of text, your visitors will stick around and read it.
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You can measure time on site through Google Analytics and hopefully watch your numbers improve. A good rule of thumb is 3-8 minutes for a blog driven website, a little bit more for other types of websites, and even more for websites centered around video. Of course you want to continually create great content and keep these numbers growing, but it’s a good start.
Worrying about time on site will make for a better website overall. It will help ensure that visitors are gaining all the information your site has to offer on a particular topic, and it will only help your case when you go to talk with advertisers.