SEO-Content-Marketing-ExaminerYou’ve done your homework: you know your target audience, relevant keywords to drive people to your website, and your compelling titles promise answers to online search queries. But when a visitor clicks through to your site, they don’t stay long enough to get acquainted. What happened?

Obviously, getting traffic to your site is only half the battle—you want to keep them there, enjoying your content and following action points to final sale or conversion. So how can you encourage users to “stick” and spend time on your website?

Be Inviting
If it’s true that “you only get one chance to make a good first impression,” then it’s extremely likely that it’s true that you literally have only seconds to engage a visitor to a website. If you lose them, they’re not coming back. If your site is cluttered, confusing or hard to look at they will bounce right back to search to find a more hospitable website. Be sure your site is not offensive to visitors with hard-to-read fonts, harsh colors, obnoxious music and poor graphics. Your website should be aesthetically inviting with readable fonts and coordinated color pallets to enhance your website’s personality and style. Take your cues for color, layout and fonts from highly trafficked, popular sites if you are not able to discern for yourself what great design looks like. You can do a quick Google search for “most visited websites” to get the most up-to-date list at any time. Be sure to review 5-10 sites and look for consistencies in colors, layout and the ways information is being presented across popular sites.

Using keywords in titles and headings make it easy for readers to find what they are looking for. Have readily available information; don’t bury the answer in layers of content, requiring multiple page clicks for a visitor to finally get what they came for. Make searching easy, adding additional information as the reader is pulled in by your content and engaging with the site.

Be Informative
Content is crucial; content is king; content is gold–content is everything, actually. It’s why your website exists, to share content and motivate your audience. Not only does your content need to be valuable, relevant and interesting, it needs to be presented respectfully. That means, respect your audience with well-written, typo-free, grammatically correct text. Additionally, don’t talk down to readers or pad content with empty dialogue—don’t waste their time. Only share high-quality content with solid information, providing real answers to problems or questions. This applies to text, video, audio, whatever medium you use. Make it the absolute best presentation that you can and your site will encourage visitors to spend time exploring your content.

Keep your content fresh and current with regular updates. Nothing turns someone away faster than out-of-date content. A blog is a good way to offer constantly new information and this encourages return visits. Soliciting comments to your blog is an excellent engagement opportunity. New images and graphics on at least a semi-annual basis can refresh your website and keep it visually appealing.

Be Considerate
Navigation should be logical, smooth and fast. Links that don’t work or that work slowly will cause defection. Online searchers want immediate gratification and won’t be patient with a slow loading site or navigation elements that are hidden in text or graphics. Clearly display contact forms or subscription buttons and promote engagement with social buttons and comment forms. A central navigation area can provide clear, understandable directions for a user, making navigation fast and easy. A site map may be a necessity for a larger, more complex website to ensure visitors can find what they want and don’t get lost.

If your site incorporates ads, they should not be popping up and disrupting a user’s experience. Ads should not take over by self-starting an audio/video presentation, filling the entire browser or requiring removal before a user can see the content they came for. Use ads wisely, making sure you have more content than ads and that the ads are optional for the user, not an in-your-face attack. Any ads displayed on your site should be high-quality and mirror the style and tone of your site.

Audio and video should have clear direction on how to begin viewing, but not be auto-loading so a visitor has to exit from an unwanted presentation. Having to remove elements to get to desired content can annoy users and potentially drive them away from your site.

A registration requirement needs to be handled carefully since you don’t want to build walls between you and your visitors. Forcing visitors to register before they have a chance to view any content is a good way to send them back to search. Once you’ve provided valuable information, trust is established. Then you can ask for registration for additional information, downloads, shopping or whatever. But if you do require registration for entrance to your site, offer a preview or demo so a visitor can see what they get in exchange for their email address.

By making a visit to your website a valuable, interesting and worthwhile experience, visitors will return again and again, and you’ll see consistent lead generation and conversion.

Join the Conversation:

  • How long is an average visit to your website? Have you seen this time increase or has it stayed the same for more than six months even though you’re working to add more information with content marketing?
  • What elements of Website optimization offered here could benefit your website?
  • Do you know which pages of your website receive the most traffic and have the most time spent?