We all want to keep visitors on our website for as long as possible, right?
Besides the obvious reason of keeping visitors on your site in order to educate and sell them on doing business with you, did you know that the average time on your website plays a BIG role in how you show up in the search engines?
That’s right, Google loves websites that keep people engaged, and they heavily favor and reward you in terms of how your site shows up in the search engine if you keep people on your site longer than your competition.
So keeping visitors on your site for the longest amount of time possible is incredibly important when in comes to being found on page one of Google. And that makes sense, as why would Google rank your site is the most relevant for any keyword or keyword phrase if everyone bounced off the second that they saw your site? If anything, they might penalize you.
So we can all agree that keeping visitors on the site is crucial to organic traffic.
The problem is that most of us have no idea how to improve our “average time on site” numbers, and we certainly don’t have time to do trial and error all day long until we figure it out.
Well you are in luck!
With the help of infographic and SEO king, Neil Patel (along with a couple new of ideas to add on to Neil’s proven tactics by yours truly), I have the top 10 best ways to keep visitors on your website longer.
None of it matters if you can’t TRACK it
Before I reveal the top 10 best ways to keep visitors on your website longer, it is incredibly important that we discuss tracking first. To put it in perspective, it would be like me giving you the training formula to lose 30 pounds in 30 days, but you had no idea how much you weighed, and you completely forgot what day you started the training on. You might feel and look a bit better, but you would have no real clue to how much you actually improved.
Lucky for you, there are two completely free ways to measure your “Average Time On Site” numbers.
- Google Analytics – This is an incredibly robust (and free) service that Google provides in the webmaster tools section of your Google/Gmail account. This free analytic service can pretty much tell you anything you can possibly imagine from average time on site, total unique visitors, exactly what people are searching for to find you organically, where they are from, etc. I don’t have time to discuss how to set it up, etc in this blog, but if you are interested, Google put together a full training on the subject. Click here to see it.
- Alexa.com – Alexa.com is the easier method to track your path. However, it is not as reliable and robust as Google Analytics. But for those of you that are overwhelmed by Google’s back-office analytic area, this is an easy alternative that can be utilized in just a couple of clicks. Simply go to Alexa.com and type in your domain name. Alexa.com tells you how popular your site is (in terms of overall traffic across all other sites on the web), and it also breaks down the following:
- Bounce Rate
- Daily Pageviews per visitor
- Daily time on Site (aka Average time on site)
Here is an example of what the Alexa.com competitive intellegence looks like for Advisor Internet Marketing. To track how well we did, we would take periodic screenshots of this page every few weeks to see if our numbers are getting better, worse, or the same.
The best ways to keep visitors on your website longer
Alright, so now that you know how to track it (and make sure to write down or screenshot your current results before you start optimizing your site with these ideas below), let’s talk about the top 10 best ways to keep visitors on your website longer.
Video was a game-changer for us personally in regards to keeping people on the site longer. Do you recall when Luke and I did our “March Hangout Madness” video series every single day in March? Well each video was approximately 30 minutes, and if you can believe it, we had an average time on site hovering around 17 minutes for all of March, and even April. That is sick! To put it into perspective, the average time on site is under 2 minutes for most websites in America.
Why does video work so well? People today seem to prefer watching over reading, so give them what they want! And if you ever do a video on YouTube, make sure to embed it on your site as you definitely want them watching on your site versus YouTube, because Google rewards your site for keeping people on longer, and YouTube still counts the watch on your site as a view.
2. Cut out the fluff
On my very first site, I tried to put as much stuff on the main page as I possibly could. In the back of my mind I thought that the more things I threw up on my site, the more ways that I could get people to stay on, and the more they would think I was an authority. However, it turns out that just the opposite is true on websites. When people land on a site that has too much going on, they leave. As you will see from Neil’s infographic below, only 28% of the text is ever read on a page anyways. So you might as well just give them your best stuff and take out anything that isn’t 100% necessary.
3. Put your best stuff “above the fold”
“Above the fold” means anything that a visitor sees on their screen without having to scroll down or click. Let’s face it, visitors make their split-second decision to stay on your site or not before they ever scroll down. So always put your best stuff at the top. And assuming that upwards of 50% of your traffic will come from tablets and mobile, this is even more crucial to make sure to put your best foot forward, like the big promise or benefit of them staying on your site, up at the very top.
4. Be a “Purple Cow”
With all of the template websites and horrid looking sites that your ideal customers must wade through every month, it is crucial that you stand out as different. Seth Godin calls this “Purple Cow” mentality “being sharable, being memorable or forgettable, and standing out so much that people are forced to talk about you.”
I was practicing being a “Purple Cow” when I dressed up in costume for many of my live hangouts. Did it get people talking and sharing the video? Absolutely! And you can do this as well as a financial advisor. Do you really think your clients want to work with, refer to, and brag about the most boring financial advisor in your area, or the advisor that is having fun and not afraid to be themselves?
One important note: It it important to note there is a BIG difference between being outrageous and obnoxious when using the “Purple Cow” theory. The latter could cost you dearly…so don’t go overboard.
5. Make your site easy to Navigate
This goes in tandem with #3 about keeping your site clean, but takes it up one more notch. An easy to navigate site not only means that it is clutter-free and easy to find everything, but it is also imperative that you don’t have any broken links, and that you make it seamless to find what your visitor is looking for.
This can be done with navigation bars showing different categories or “Must read blogs”, and it also can mean creating an easy to follow funnel of where you want people going. Don’t make them guess where to click next, spell it out and make it obvious! Worst case is they leave, and if you spell out exactly what you really want them to do and they leave, then they were leaving anyways.
Making your site easy to navigate is one the overall best ways to keep visitors on your website longer.
6. Make your website fast in terms of how quickly it loads
This is one of the most overlooked, yet incredibly important, pieces of the Internet puzzle. And having a fast site is crucial for two reasons:
- If your site takes more than a couple seconds to load, most people will leave. No one has patience for slow sites, so don’t be that site that feels like it is on dial-up.
- Google also places quite a bit of favor in their ranking algorithm on faster loading sites. Keep in mind that Google’s #1 Mission is to give an incredible user experience, and showing the Google users a website that is incredibly slow, doesn’t fit in well with their overall goals. So having a slow site will hurt how your site ranks.
Believe me, this is one place that you don’t want to be a cheapskate, as saving a few bucks could cost you tons of traffic (which also means leads).
7. Make it easy for your visitors to search within your site
This is something that we personally did a bad job with on this site that you are on now. We do have a search bar, but it isn’t big and bold like it should be. However, a great example of doing it correctly is one of our other sites, Retirement Think Tank. If you make it easy for them to search for things, it equates to more engagement, thus more time on your site. Win-win for all parties here.
8. Keep your overall website design congruent
It is imperative that your website is congruent in terms of the overall message and the look and feel. Imagine going to a site that had a different design and different colors on every single page. You would probably think a clown created it.
You want your visitors to feel like they are always on the same page, which means keep your logo the same size on all pages, keep you headline (if you have one) the same size, and be conscious to make the entire site congruent.
9. Keep fonts and colors congruent
Just as important as the congruency of the overall site such as layout, logos, etc is keeping all of the font styles and colors congruent.
On my first site I had about 5 different fonts going before someone pointed out to me how bad it looked. Not to mention, it actually hurt your eyes to try and read on it. We are conditioned to reading books, magazines, etc that all have one font type. When you start throwing in multiple fonts, although it might seem edgy and cool, it ends up hurting visitor’s eyes, which means they won’t stay on your site very long.
Same goes for color. This isn’t finger-painting class here folks. Keep it clean and keep the color choices down to a minimum. As you will see below on Neil’s infographic, he recommends never more than 4 colors. I say 3 is enough.
10. Make your links (hyperlinks) easy to find
On my first site, I thought it would be cute to have all of the links on my site be hot pink to really stand out. Boy was that a dumb decision. After changing them back to the standard blue link that every person in America is used to, I realized how much that cost me in visitor retention.
Another thing to keep in mind is to make sure your links change color (from blue to something like purple or dark blue) after they are clicked. There are some industry standards that are best to not deviate away from to try and stand out, and this is one of them.
Keeping visitors on your website is crucial for organic traffic, as Google gives favor to sites that are engaging their users. As you read above, there are many different things that you can be doing with your website to maximize the chances that a visitor will stay on your site for a long time.
My tip is to try and fix one at at time instead of bits and pieces from each idea. It will be easier to manage, easier to track (so you know what is working and what isn’t), and it will be less stressful.
BONUS #11 tip is “Content is King”
Notice the one thing not mentioned as a best way to keep visitors on your website longer is content. But don’t think I forgot that one. In fact, it is the MOST IMPORTANT piece of the puzzle because even if you nailed all ten of the recommendations above like a pro, but had crappy (or very little) content, then none of it really matters.
So don’t forget to keep blogging, doing videos, and putting fresh content out there every month!
P.S. – If you found anything in here of value, I will buy you a beer, wine, or cola the next time I see you if you share this using the social share buttons on the left. You rock!
(here is the infographic from Neil that I referenced earlier)