There is nothing worse than writing a post for your blog that no one reads. Or, almost worse, writing a post that people just skim for ten seconds.
When you take great time and energy to craft content for your blog, you want people to soak up every last bit of the goodness! Right?
But, folks, we live in a world of instant gratification. And nowhere is that more evident than on the internet, where we skim an article for the bullet points only or leave a site if it takes more than four seconds to load.
That’s not an exaggeration, I’m pretty sure.
Getting people to stay on your site and actually read your content (not glance at–literally read) can be an uphill battle.
But it’s a battle you can win, if you have the right tools and the right mindset.
Here are the three most important factors when it comes to getting people to park it on your blog:
- Site load speed
Or maybe this would be more accurate:
- Blazing fast site speed
- Simple, readable formatting
- Killer content
Combined, these three factors will make your site basically irresistible. No one will ever want to leave.
I’m saying that for effect. I can’t actually guarantee your results, but I’m trying to pump you up with some positive reinforcement.
Site Load Speed
As previously stated, if your site isn’t Roadrunner levels of speedy people are not going to stick around. They ain’t got the time.
There are a few ways to check your site’s speediness, as well as tools to diagnose the problem.
- Use the Pingdom Website Speed Test to find out how fast your blog is loading.
- Use Google’s PageSpeed Insights to diagnose potential problems that could be slowing down your site loading speed.
Would you rather read this page:
Or this one?
You would rather read the second page, right? Let’s talk about why.
There are a few things Brian Dean at Backlinko does on his page that really help readability.
- Clearly marked navigation options at the top of the page. The last link, “Proven SEO Tips”, is a really good idea because it is a constant reminder of Brian’s authority in his niche.
- The text is a comfortable width for reading. Your content width should be about 55-100 characters (not letters. Characters includes punctuation). Any wider than 100 characters, and people will have a hard time reading all the way across the page. Any more narrow than 55 characters, and the text will be so broken up no one will know what they’re reading. If you feel your content width is too narrow or wide, try adjusting your font size within your blog design.
- The sidebar is present, but not overwhelming. In an ideal world, your blog should not have a sidebar. Sidebars are hugely distracting. If you choose to have a sidebar, though, take a cue from Brian. He used a different background color and that subtle divider line to visually separate the sidebar from the rest of the content. This makes the sidebar less distracting, because it’s not being confused with the main body of content.
- No distracting images. Images are great. (I wrote about it at length here). But if you use images wrong, they can be distracting and annoying (see: the first example).
So, a quick review:
- Make it easy to navigate and search your site.
- Page width should be between 55-100 characters.
- Don’t use a sidebar if you can help it.
- Only use images that enhance and reinforce your message.
Obviously, the number one best way to get people to spend a long time on your site is to have the best content possible. If your content is irresistible, people will stick around to read it. Content is directly related to average time on page (To read my Ultimate Guide to Writing Good Content, click here.)
Good content informs, entertains, and/or inspires the reader.
Make sure you are creating content that is valuable and helpful to your readers. That will keep them on your site.
Besides creating content worth reading, there are a couple of tricks you can use to keep readers moving around your site.
Encourage exploration around your site
A navigation bar at the top of all your webpages will make it easy for readers to move from one place to another on your site.
Make sure you have a search box, and that it is in a very obvious location on all your pages. (Like maybe in your navigation bar).
Internal links are links within your content that lead to other pages on your site. Use internal links to guide readers from one post to another.
Check your results
Keep an eye on the bounce rates and exit rates of individual pages to see where people are leaving your site and where they’re sticking around.
Is there a page or two that tends to lose people? Are people taking action on the pages that have a CTA? If not, it’s time to switch things around.
Edit your content to make it better. If your existing content isn’t doing its job, edit it! Add length by going more in-depth on the subject, or add images to grab the reader’s attention.
Add a Call To Action on a page that doesn’t have one. Every page should have a CTA, even if that CTA is just to move to a different page.
Add links to related content at the bottom of the page to keep the reader moving through your site.
So there you go…
The best way to increase your readers’ average time on page is to create quality content that is easy to read and loads super (super) quickly.
- Check your site load speed
- Format your pages for easy readability and
- Create good content
And people will never want to leave your blog!