Suppose you visited a website named “Girl with a Pearl Earring,” thinking it was for the book or movie. Instead, you found a blog about a girl and her jewelry. How long would you stay?
Probably not very long. Because of this, the site would have a high bounce rate and overall low engagement.
Let’s assume your website’s name does its content justice, and that you have great content. Yet, you still have trouble keeping visitors on your site and viewing more pages per visit, and you’re not sure why.
It isn’t always easy to encourage engagement. Your readers need to be able to find your content, deem it interesting, and go on to read more.
What can you do to make this happen?
Here are seven ways to increase website engagement:
1. Check the health of your site.
Let’s consider a scenario: A visitor comes to your site because he clicked on a link in a tweet. If he sees some interesting content related to the article he’s reading, he might click on the link to read more.
Now, what if that link leads him to a 404 error? He’ll likely leave, consequently view fewer pages, and spend a shorter amount of time on the site.
Engagement on your site is interconnected; one bad link can spoil a visitor’s experience.
If your site experiences a high bounce rate, minimal time on-site, and a small number of pages per visit, it could be directly related to poor site health. Repairing “not found” errors and fixing duplicate page titles and content can greatly improve your site’s relationship with Google and your users.
2. Optimize your posts for search engines and social media.
Don’t let your article disappear the minute after you hit publish. Optimize a post for search engines and social sharing to help you get more mileage out of every piece of content and increase engagement.
If you can make content more compelling, it’s more likely people will click and share it. Mastering this (or even getting some expertise in the area) can increase the amount of time users spend on your site. The main idea is to have a great headline, use keywords throughout your post, and bold key sentences that include target keywords.
Once you create a post that’s search-engine friendly, share on any and all platforms where you deem the post and/or topic relevant.
3. Link to other posts on your site.
This is as simple as it sounds. If you write an article, say on search engine optimization (SEO), go through your site and find other posts that talk about SEO and link to them in meaningful ways. But don’t go crazy and link every word to a different post. This will probably have the opposite effect of what you want.
Brackets are another cool linking technique. Include brackets at the end of a paragraph to grab the readers’ attention and make them more likely to click. For example:
4. Check Google Analytics.
If you don’t already check your Google Analytics dashboard daily, get in the habit of doing so. If anything, you should explore it monthly to see which articles perform well and which don’t.
Perhaps you think your “how to” posts are the best on your site and receive the majority of your site’s page views. But what if that’s the opposite?
Your content report can give you some insight into which content you should produce more of and which you can put less time and effort into.
5. Use social sharing buttons.
What do social icons have to do with onsite engagement? When you show the number of comments, tweets, likes, etc., you immediately tell readers, “Hey, there’s a meaningful discussion going on and it’s worth taking a look.”
Twitter buttons alone can increase sharing sevenfold. And if your content is good enough, people will feel compelled to share it. These buttons will allow you to see which posts your readers deem share-worthy.
If you don’t have a little blue bird, a blue thumbs up, or anything of the like somewhere in your post, this could pose a problem if you want to gain some engagement.
6. Ask users what they want.
The best way for your site to improve site engagement might be to go straight to the source. Asking visitors which posts they like best or what they’d like to see more of could help you improve time spent on site, pages per visit, and bounce rates.
If your readers think your content is more relevant, compelling, or perhaps just prettier (you add a few more pictures throughout your posts), this could make all the difference between a bad visit and a good visit.
7. Add recommended articles at the end of posts.
Having related articles or articles others ventured to after reading the current piece will increase pages per visit and time on site.
At the end of our blogs posts on Engage, we added “People who read this post, also read these…” Since we added that feature, pages per visit have notably risen. This is helpful for first-time visitors to your site, and even for veterans.
You will entice your visitors to explore if you put more great content in front of them, and show them what like-minded individuals read next—especially if you have a great headline and image to match.
You already conquered the first challenge: getting people to your site and getting your name out there. The next hurdle is to compel people to stay there. Don’t let visitors slip through the cracks!
Jackie Roy is a digital content associate at TMG Custom Media. A version of this article first appeared on Engage.