How to keep visitors on your website longer and visit more pages

How to make your website stickier.

We’ve recently tweaked our websites and blogs to encourage people to spend more time on them, to make them “stickier”.

Why does that matter? For a few reasons.

Let’s start with the basic notion that a website should provide a good user experience.  Great content, easy to navigate, fun and/or useful. These are hallmarks of a good website. If your website delivers, visitors will want to stick around. Your website will be “sticky”.

Search engines reward websites that contain these characteristics? Why? Search engines want to deliver results to searchers that are meaningful and valuable. What are meaningful, valuable results? Websites that have excellent content, are easy navigable, and provide the content the searcher is looking for, perhaps in an entertaining way. What are some indicia to a search engine of a good website? Lots of visitors, visitors that visit multiple pages, visitors that stay on your site for a while rather than “bouncing” to the next one. You can see the cycle.

The better your website delivers, the more search engines will send visitors your way, the more visitors you will get, the more they will stay on your site, the more search engines will like your site, and on…

So what are the very simple tweaks we deployed to make our site “stickier”?

Top posts and pages sidebar widget allows visitors to see what everyone else is looking at the most

We use the Jetpack plugin built by the same people who built WordPress. Not everyone likes the plugin. Some feel it’s bloated. We figure the people who develop WordPress have some good ideas about what WordPress plugins ought to do.

The Jetpack plugin offers a sidebar widget that will post whichever posts and pages are trending as the most popular on your site. Did you just post a video about a cat riding on a pony? Chances are people are checking that one out.

But maybe someone else visited your site because they were looking for alternative ways to tie shoes and you have a spot-on post. But maybe once there, they’d like to know what everyone else visiting your site is reading. We think there’s a bit of human nature there: we like to know what others find so interesting. So now, shoelaces visitor, who otherwise might only have visited that one page, has now visited two, has spent more time on your site, and may just share that cat on a pony video with someone else.

Related posts plugin places similar posts at bottom of post

This one is killer and, by gum, a no-brainer. This plugin hands relevant, useful content to your visitors on a platter.

There are many plugins that offer the “related posts” functionality. We use YARPP. Why? Matt Cutts of Google once wrote about it fairly glowingly and the plugin gets the job done. (Here for why you should care what Matt Cutts says about plugins.)

Here’s what the plugin does. It adds at the bottom of a post links to content on your site that is related to the post. Check out, for instance, the related posts at the bottom of this article.

So you wrote about shoelace tying. Maybe you also wrote another post about shoe buckles, and another about knot tying generally. (It’s the beauty of the web, baby. You can blog about anything.) The plugin will identify posts that are contextually similar and group them together. Your visitor now has the opportunity to read additional posts on your blog that are similar to the post they initially found.How many times have you found yourself surfing the web and following a trail of somewhat related information? Every day, right?

Well why not help your visitors to do that while keeping them on your site?  In this way, the visitor spends more time on your site visiting more pages. You’ve just made a visitor happier, and your site stickier, and now you’re getting more search engine love.

Good work!

What tips do you have for making a website stickier? Leave a comment below.

Photo credit: Sticky Wall Walkers, Window Crawler, Tumbling men by huayiinc, on Flickr. Used with Creative Commons license.

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