Why have a website at all if you do not take the time to continuously improve the site’s usefulness? You built a website to convey information about your product or service. So, now you need to make sure that information is actually read by your site visitors.
Google tracks how long visitors stay on your website, how many pages they visit, the number of interactions as well as other visitor engagement metrics that provide insight into how useful and informative your website is compared to competitors. Websites that are more useful rank better.
This article will focus on methods and “How to tips” to increase website engagement and overall visitor engagement, otherwise known as website experience optimization.
Are you offering products or services for children or adults? Is your industry health care related or are you an online shoe store? Understanding your target audience is critical to formulating your website’s look, navigation and content.
Take necessary time to identify who your website is focusing on and how to improve engagement with this audience. Do they like stories, anecdotes, data and analytics, or pictures and videos? The better you understand your target market, the better you can engage your customers and improve conversion rates, time on site and rankings. A professional digital marketing agency like Webolutions in Denver, Colorado can help identify your competitors, target customer group and overall brand strategy to succeed online.
People’s attention spans continue to decline. In fact, Time magazine in May, 2015 wrote an article mentioning a study by Microsoft Corporation that indicates we have a shorter attention span than goldfish. Since 2000, our attention span has dropped from 12 seconds to 8. Goldfish have a 9-second attention span. So, you better be able to grab visitor’s attention fast and keep them on your website with information, products and services that provide your visitor value.
For several years, search engine optimization focused on more and more content. Of course, as webmasters and professional SEO agencies strived to rank better with more content, more pages and larger websites, the quality of content suffered. According to a 2013 statement from Google, 30% of the internet is duplicate content, that is, useless information rewritten or “spun” to appear like a different article, yet it contains similar information already online.
Related to more content is the fact that studies have proven that longer articles rank better than shorter ones. So, once again, Google has created a ranking scenario that encourages (and rewards) people to create these long, drawn-out pages with 2,000+ words. Ironically, this is counter intuitive. Why create longer and longer articles, when people’s attention spans are becoming shorter and shorter?
Visitors are becoming more visually inclined because viewing an image, graphic or video is easier to comprehend than reading lengthy articles, and takes less attention span. Improve visitor engagement on your website by providing information as quickly and simply as possible. Additionally, break-up the layout of the information so it does not appear daunting.
Well-written content is easy to read. Use clear, easy to understand headings (h1, h2, h3 tags) to segment content into short digestible sections. Better yet, design a large page with “jump” or “hot” links to help visitors select parts of the page they wish to read. In this way, you improve the customer experience, time on site and perception of your website.
Again, our main goal is to convey useful information as quickly as possible in small chunks. The more effective you are at sharing information simply and intuitively, the greater probability visitors will stay on your page and view the content. The use of audio and video clips, images, infographics and slideshows are great ways to break-up written copy and convey content more simply for the visitor.
If you’ve used Wikipedia at all, you know they are among the best at linking to other sources on their website that further describe related information. Make it easy for visitors to find the information they are seeking. Internal links from one page to another meaningful page is a great way to keep visitors on your site longer.
The key is to link to RELATED, USEFUL content that the visitor will appreciate. Listing a few related articles or posts below content is a great technique to help visitors find additional information. Internal links help both visitors as well as search engines to identify and group semantically related content, which will help with your website’s search engine rankings.
A clean, simple navigation structure helps visitors find what they’re looking for quickly and easily. Don’t include every category and sub-category on your website’s navigation; rather, include the most important top level pages. These main category pages can, subsequently, link to other sub-categories and pages of interest.
A large menu can confuse and overwhelm a visitor. Additionally, larger menus lack focus. It becomes much more difficult to guide visitors through your website in a manner you desire if the visitor has too many choices. Navigation structure is an excellent means to drive visitors to follow a desired path through your website and sales funnel. First grab your visitor, then allow them the ability to pick and choose the information they need. Keep your navigation simple and easy to understand.
Creating great content in order to improve visitor time on site is the first step toward increasing visitor engagement. What about comments? Does your website have the ability to accept comments and feedback? Does your site make it easy to interact with your business?
The second part of improving visitor interaction is to listen to your customer’s feedback and reply promptly. Taking the time to respond and interact with your visitors is critically important to create repeat, loyal customers. Responding quickly to customer inquiries is important for both your website inquiries as well as social channel comments like those on Facebook or Twitter. In order for visitors to stay engaged, you must also be engaged and responsive.
Not many of us like to be bombarded by commercials, advertisements and spam emails selling, selling, selling… In order to engage your visitors and encourage them to revisit your website, share with them information they will value. An email does not simply need to promote a sale or special, rather, use email sparingly to provide your customers how-to tips, interesting new information, something funny or even delicious recipes.
The point is to provide something of value for free. The email should be short, concise and interesting. If you or your friends wouldn’t take the time to read it, why would anyone else? The use of newsletter sign-up forms is a great way to collect email addresses.
How often have you waited more than a few seconds for a website’s page content to load? Like most of us, if a website is slow, you move on to another website in the search engine rankings. Slow websites are disastrous to website traffic for two reasons.
First, as mentioned above, users simply will not wait for your website to load. They’ll jump back to the Google results page almost immediately to find a faster website. Second, because visitors hit the back button to leave your website so quickly, Google recognizes this action (called a “bounce”) and understands that this happens because the result was not what they wanted. Your website, subsequently, is moved down in the rankings relative to other websites where visitors are staying longer, which is an indication to Google that a website’s information is useful and valued by users.
In addition to being fast, your website must be responsive, which means the layout and look will automatically adapt itself to the type of device being used to view the website. A website’s desktop PC design should not be the layout one sees when accessing your website from a tablet or smartphone.
How often have you stayed on a website that you could navigate or read easily because the layout and fonts resulted in a poor, frustrating experience? Right, you moved on to another website that was easier to use with your mobile device. Like slow load times, when a visitor returns to results quickly because your site’s layout is poor, Google identifies this as a bounce and an indication that your website is inferior to other websites. Down your rankings will go.
Website experience optimization (WEO) is the process of improving one’s website to encourage visitors to stay on your site longer and view more pages. Google’s ranking algorithm does consider website usage metrics like time on site and pages visited. If a visitor leaves your site quickly, this is considered a “bounce” and is an indicator to Google that your site is not as useful as other available websites. As a result, your website moves down in the rankings. On the flip side, having a fast, responsive website that is easy to navigate and contains useful information will encourage users to stay engaged on your site, which will reduce bounce rates and help improve search engine rankings.
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