In addition to the fact that it’s an important ranking factor in Google, time on site is just an important metric that every site owner — bloggers in particular — needs to keep on his or her radar. Not every visit or page view on your site is made alike, because someone spends several minutes reading through your blog posts is quite different from the hit-and-run visitor who leaves after a couple seconds.
No matter where that visitor came from in the first place, whether’s that through a search engine, social media, or an organic inbound link, you want to keep that person around. Now that they’ve arrived on your site, here are six ways you can try to have them stick around to consume and engage with more of your content.
1. Embed a YouTube Video
Have you noticed that every time John puts up a new video on his YouTube channel, he also publishes an accompanying blog post where he embeds the video? He did it when he talked about how to get more email subscribers, just as he did when sharing his Dot Com Lunch. I do the same with my vlogs on my own blog.
There are many benefits to doing this, but one of the biggest ones is that while someone is watching an embedded video on your blog, those precious seconds and minutes contribute to their time on site. If they’re on your blog watching a YouTube video for 30 minutes, you get 30+ minutes of time on site.
And while it’s ideal if the video is yours, embedding other YouTube videos offers the same benefit… except the “view” goes toward the YouTube creator, of course, and your own YouTube channel.
2. Include More Visual Content
When a visitor arrives on your blog and is faced with a giant block of text, they can feel intimidated or disinterested. You need visual content to break this up. Photos work great, but infographics, graphs and other visual content can be just as (if not even more) effective, depending on the context. But how much do you want or need?
Blog Pros analyzed 100 high ranking blog posts and found that they have an average of 1,149 words and 3.2 images. That’s one image for every 350 words or so. So, it will depend on the length of your blog posts — longer posts should have more images — but there are almost no circumstances when you’d want to publish a blog post with no images at all.
3. Add an Obvious Call-to-Action
This might seem incredibly obvious to some of you, but you might be surprised how many bloggers and other online publishers overlook the importance of internal linking. While you don’t want to bombard readers with links every other sentence, you do want to provide them with relevant, meaningful, and useful places to go within your own website. That’s true throughout your content.
But it’s especially powerful at the end of a blog post or article. Making an obvious and relevant reference to something else that might interest someone who just read what you wrote makes it easy for them to stick around. Another way to tackle this is to end blog posts with another relevant call to action, like posing a question and encouraging readers to reply in the comment section.
4. Format Your Post Strategically
In the same Blog Pros analysis I cited above, they indicate that of those 100 high ranking blog posts, 45% were a numbered list and 35% were a tutorial, guide or how-to. These types of post formats lend themselves naturally to good formatting. A numbered list should use headers with numbers in them. Tutorials and guides should be broken up into easy-to-digest sections.
Within the context of WordPress, this means taking advantage of the basic formatting you have at your fingertips. You’ll find that almost all the posts I write here on John Chow dot Com use H2 headers. If your content gets a bit longer, you might utilize H3 headers below that for better organization. Bullet lists, numbered lists, blockquotes, bold, italics… these can all play into both adding visual interest and improving skimmability.
5. Offer Transcripts for Audio Content
Do you listen to podcasts? Better yet, do you have a podcast of your own? While it may be true what they say about how audio is the next big battlefield, sometimes people don’t want to download, stream or otherwise sit through an hour-long audio recording.
Give visitors the power of choice and they’ll reward you with higher average time on site. In addition to embedding your podcast in a blog post (time on site while they listen to the audio), you can also choose to include a full transcript or at least show notes with a partial transcript.
This allows people to skim through and read the parts that interest them the most, or skip ahead to the part in the podcast that interests them. You might think you’re losing time this way, but the fact is that people who are thinking about skipping ahead probably would have left already if you don’t give them an alternative option.
6. Consider Infinite Scroll
And finally, this probably isn’t the “easiest” way to improve time on site, and it’s not going to work for everyone (test everything!), but infinite scroll is a feature you might consider. When someone reaches the end of your blog post or article, if they keep scrolling, the next article will load automatically. This encourages binge-reading, in a way, and it eliminates the click necessary in a more traditional CTA at the end of a post.
There are several WordPress plugins that can add infinite scroll to your site. They’re almost universally mobile compatible and some allow for pagination sets per template.
What about you? What tips, tactics or best practices are you implementing to improve time on site?