Increase the time users spend on your website

Last modified on Thursday, 18 December 2014

Fact: one of the most important ways you can increase your search engine ranking is by increasing the time a user spends browsing your website.

Time spent on website

is indicative of the use a customer gets from the website: and Google are well aware of this.

If you already have Google Analytics on your website (and if you haven't you should consider it), you may have noticed that time spent on website is a recurring metric throughout. You may have also heard the term Bounce Rate, the percentage of visitors to your website who navigate away from the site after viewing only one page.

The truth of the matter is that the time a customer spends browsing a website is analogous to the time a customer spends browsing through a high street store in the real world. Any shop packed full of people, spending hours browsing products and buying, is a clear signal that it has something special to offer. Along the same lines, if every visitor to your website spends a long time reading, clicking through pages and preferably interacting (registering, commenting, sharing and buying) then your website is standing out in the eyes of Google as having something special to offer - your website is adding value.

My point? ... The time spent on a website is indicative of the use a customer gets from a website: and Google are well aware of this.

The key to increasing time spent on your website is to add value

At Jeyjoo we love transparent, common sense SEO, and here it is important to make a distinction - web sites which aim to have visitors spend quality time on them, do not need to fool search engines or crack algorithms - they need to have awesome, original, engaging and relevant content that keeps customers engrossed.

If you can add value to a website through fresh and innovative content, then visitors will come flocking to your web site time and time again. Loyal visitors are your reward for adding valuable content to your web pages.

Excellent ways to add value to your website

1. Make your website user friendly

The surest way to lose visitors is if you website does not work. First do a quick check that your website is user friendly. Do your webpages load quickly? Is your site mobile friendly? Are the navigation buttons clear and easy to use? Do your links work? (check for broken links using this free tool)

It is important that you tell users what to do by directing them to relevant pages - does each page have a clear call for action? Everything in your website must be easy to find. Here is an excellent list of the best free tools to test your website health.

2. Cross link your pages

PRO TIP

Well structured internal (and external) links are a key ranking signal in the Semantic web.

Throughout your blog articles and content, add links to other relevant product pages and blogs within your website. Do this only where relevant and where you will enrich their experience on your website. Other than adding value to your website, you are also encouraging people to read through your pages, keeping them longer on your website, directly lowering your bounce rate, and most importantly from a business sense, providing you with a more ample window of opportunity to catch a lead or make a sale.

3. Ask a friend (this one is so easy yet so effective)

When you spend so much time on your website, it is easy to look past the obvious. Ask a friend or colleague to go through the website, and you will be amazed how a fresh set of eyes can reveal something incredibly obvious that you have overlooked or and may have never even considered.

4. Write a blog

PRO TIP

Focus your efforts on attracting visitors who are likely to buy, benefit from, or use your services.

A blog allows you to add fresh and original content to your website when you wish, keeping users engrossed in your website and offering your ample opportunity to channel visitors into your sales funnel. As blogs are content-orientated, they have the double-sided effect of naturally attracting search engine traffic AND keeping users busy on your website. Find out exactly why content marketing is so important in the web today.

Use your blog to set your company apart from competitors as the authority within your market. Be sure to open your blog to as many social networks as possible to increase the chances of your content being bookmarked and shared

Blogging regularly, will bring repeat visits. Comments and feedback will allow you to build a relationship with your customers.

5. Add a forum

If you have an area of expertise, then adding a forum to your website can be an exciting way to add value to a website and attract large numbers of daily visitors. Larger forums have hundreds of thousands of daily hits including industry experts. Adding a forum to a website is not a light option; though in the right circumstances could manoeuvre your business into the spotlight.

If a forum is too big a commitment, a simpler approach is to pull in daily rss feeds from other leading sites bringing your users to the pulse of your industry. RSS is relatively straight forward to use and involves little maintenance.

6. Add an image gallery to your website

When we added an image gallery to our own website, we our website traffic increased x3, and we saw a x2 increase in time spent on website. If you do have high quality images, contact us and we will seamlessly integrate an image gallery into your website - this is one of our areas of expertise. This will include an easy to use management screen (CMS) for adding and editing your photos. We will provide user instructions, training and full assistance.

7. Add a video to your website

This one is simple - add a 5 minute video to your website and you can expect users to stay on your website 5 minutes longer. Not only will users spend more time on your website, but (and here I making an assumption that the video is good) you are adding value to your website; adding an extra communication channel and in doing so opening your business to a wider audience. If you don't have a video, you can embed a slideshow presentation. Learn how to optimise a video for search

8. Advanced page analysis (difficult)

If you are still struggling to retain visitors on your website and lower that bounce rate, then consider investing in a Website Usability or User Experience expert. They will run through your website and offer a list of remedies. If you want to go it alone, tools such as heatmaps, Google Analytics and our free website tests will also help you identify areas where you can improve website flow and increase visitor retention.

The benefits of adding value to a website

Successfully add value to your website using any one of the above ways, then you can expect multiple benefits, all of which will help improve your Google rank:

  • More website visitors
  • An increase in time spent on your website and fall in your bounce rate.
  • More press and backlinks - high quality content naturally earns press, high quality editorial back-links and gets bookmarked as people WANT to link to your awesome material.
  • More social buzz - great content will attract more social shares and is far more likely too go viral.

If you have any questions about this tutorial, or would like help with your own content and visitor retention please leave a comment below or get in touch.

Mike Fitzpatrick

Mike Fitzpatrick is the founder and web developer at Jeyjoo web design. He works with both individuals and companies to grow their businesses online.
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