Increasing Time on Site – 3 Simple Steps

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The Time Has Come to Increase Your Time on Site

Most online marketers and website owners tend to measure the success of their online business by the amount of traffic they are able to generate (and, of course, revenue).

While increasing the number of unique visitors is most definitely important (and something that everyone should be concerned with), it is arguably only half the battle. Unique visitors and visits alone should not be the only means by which you are measuring success.

It is easy to understand that there is little in the way of benefit from attracting a visitor to your website that quickly clicks the back button and leaves. Often, website owners and online marketers spend more time thinking about how to attract people to a site and less on how to encourage those visitors to spend considerably more time on your website. Take heed – there is a a direct correlation between the amount of time spent on a website and its success. So how can you increase time on site (and profits)? Follow these three simple strategies.

- Design Smarter (and Write Longer) -

Of all the different site types, it is the content marketers that either have the best or the worst time-on-site averages. While one suggestion might be to simply write longer-form content, another option would be to take the longer-form content you have or will develop in the future and commit to splitting it into multiple sections. This is a common approach that has been used on sites like About.com and many newspaper sites for years. For example, a 1,000 word article could be split into four sections of 250 words each. Some content management systems have this functionality built in, so explore that feature if available to you. Another benefit of splitting content is that it gives publishers the ability to generate more advertising impressions - a big draw particularly for those selling on a CPM basis.

- Create More Relevant Jump Points for Content Showcasing -

Would you rather feature content that is timely or timeless? There are arguments for and against both, but those publishers that concentrate on identifying areas where they can showcase their best information are those that often have the highest time-on-site averages. These jump points are areas where publishers can profile/push the most popular pages, the most heavily commented upon content items or most linked-to items. There are, of course, many places to do this, including at the end of articles/posts, within sidebars, and within the content itself. There is actually some SEO benefit to creating links to this type of content on your site as the number and relevance of links to internal pages is (arguably) an important factor in search engine ranking.

- Introduce Supplemental Formats: Multimedia & Applications -

Many content publishers, to their own detriment, opt to stay with the content format most familiar to them – whatever that may be. Consumers, however, often have very different demands when it comes to their consumption preferences – offering just one only gives you one chance for one type of visitor. Start introducing supplemental formats and you’ll be surprised about the positive effect it has on time on site. For example, if you’ve got a long-form article, why not fire up the webcam and produce a short-form video about that article’s key points or takeaways. If you publish a list of events, why not introduce a calendar application which is a terrific way to increase the number of clicks on your site as well.

When it comes to increasing time on site, remember the following: your website visitors are willing to be engaged with your site (and spend more time on it), but content publishers absolutely must commit to repurposing content into new design formats, providing jump points wherever necessary to expose them to content that should be showcased, and they should introduce supplemental formats to satisfy the Web’s diverse content consumption needs and wants.

Make no mistake – increasing time on site is no easy task. Keep these three simple strategies in mind and you will not only see significant percentage increases in time on site, but revenue as well.

 
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7 comments

Atlanta Real Estate 05-06-2011 2:37 PM

Good tips. It's not a trivial solution for sure.

Martin - Custom Web Designer 05-06-2011 3:29 PM

Very valid point - people who stay longer ARE more likely to 'convert'. You must keep your visitors' attention and giving them a video is a great idea - it's easier to listen to content than it is to read it.

Of course you need to have a strategy that's appropriate to the website/business as each audience will be different.

Thank you for sharing.

DonL 05-06-2011 3:32 PM

Good insights. I agree that mixing content and offering variety is a must. It also seems to me that if, as site publishers, we can inform AND entertain, ideally at the same time, then we have an excellent chance of increasing visitor stay-time. The trick, of course, is to do so in a manner that's relevant to the reason a visitor is on the site in the first place.

TanyaSmith 05-06-2011 9:43 PM

Makes a lot of sense.  I've found myself breaking down what used to be an eternally scrolling page into blog post sections on my site.  Sounds like that's a positive way to go.  Thanks for the insight!

Eric C. Rothchild 05-08-2011 11:41 PM

Agreed, it does seem that visitors who stay on the sites longer will be more likely to convert, has anyone run through their logs to test this yet?  If so i am sure the results would be very informative if anyone cares to share!

If anyone is interested i can do this and post the results as well, just say the word.

E.

John 05-11-2011 11:46 AM

Actually, writing shorter might help. If I find a site with a wall of text it turns me off.

NicolasH 05-17-2011 12:37 PM

We often times use read more buttons to overcome exactly what you guys are saying. You can have the content for google and it doesn't seem overwhelming to the visitor. If the visitor wants to read more on the subject it is there for them at the click of a button and also takes them off your home page. Good article... theres just so much more to it! - Nick Hantge ~ Commented through my Website Magazine iPad App!

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