One of the more telling metrics in the wild world of Web analytics is time-on-site, which indicates how long your website visitors stuck around. But, what it really tells you is just how engaging visitors find your website content to be.
Of course, what makes "good" or engaging content varies based on the type of website you run, your objectives and the whims of the people visiting your site. At the end of the day, the biggest factor determining how long your visitors will hang out is you, and how well you're able to provide them with the content that will keep them coming back for more (or ideally, just sticking around for a marathon session).
There's a lot of stuff out there on the Web. If you want to create content that inspires marathon site visits, everything you publish should capture the attention of the (highly sought after) 'Net users, both before and after they come to your site.
First things first - you need to come up with a great title or headline. Like it or not, the Web has made the art of headline writing the most important aspect of content creation, as users are likely to completely ignore content that doesn't have a compelling enough title. Some ideas to keep in mind when coming up with headlines include referencing keywords or hot trends, using exciting descriptive adjectives or superlatives, summarizing the content or asking a question (the more provocative, the better).
As far as the content itself goes, there are a couple of proven methods that always seem to interest people. Lists are always popular, as is content that is broken up into different subsections. These allow visitors to easily skim to determine how much time they want to spend with the material. Content that has a call to action can also be very useful and engaging, especially if you have specific conversion goals; just make sure that the action is simple, easy to perform and clearly outlined. And last, but certainly not least, actionable content that provides an answer is always a winner. Start by presenting a question or problem (to get them hooked), and then use your expert authority to offer a solution.
Basically, the most effective content grabs someone's attention, is easy to digest and, ultimately, provides useful information. And while these principles can be easily attributed to traditional text-based content like blog posts or articles, they also work just as well with images and video.
Slideshows & Photo Galleries
Right now, images are the reigning King of Content on the Web (look not further than the success of Pinterest, if you need proof). Using pictures on your site is a great way to enhance the user experience, as they're easy for visitors to interact with. Images on your site allow you to replace whole paragraphs or sections of text and produce the same impact. Plus, they're easier for visitors to share on social networks and blogs, and they will help your SEO efforts, as you'll appear in more image search results.
One way to incorporate pictures onto your site, that will also help increase engagement and time-on-site, is by adding a slideshow or photo gallery. These allow users to scroll through and view an entire collection of photographs, drastically increasing the amount of time they spend engaged with them and helping you quickly and efficiently provide them with information about your brand, website, products and more. You can add image galleries to your website using publishing tools like SlideShowPro, SmoothGallery, Minishowcase or Zenphoto.
A recent Invodo study revealed that consumers watch videos 60 percent of the time, and these videos help 66 percent of consumers understand how products work. However, the biggest obstacle you may find in adding video to your site is coming up with the type of content you want to publish, which can include tutorials, product reviews or animations.
There are many tools for site owners looking to take the tutorial route. For example, you could create a screencast with a platform like Screenr to demonstrate how a new feature on your site works. Or, businesses who want help with the creative process could leverage a platform like Demoflick, which works with clients to develop concepts and build videos that can incorporate both music and sound.
Another great way to engage your site visitors is with product reviews; however, user-generated video product reviews are even more appealing. In fact, a Google study revealed that 4 in 10 shoppers visit a store online or in-person as a direct result of watching a video online, and many of those videos were consumer reviews on YouTube. You can add user-generated videos to your site by leveraging the services from companies like Bravo, Authntk or EXPO TV.
It might sound a little silly, but animation is a great way to attract attention. One way site owners can work this strategy into their website is with whiteboard animation from providers like Ydraw. This company helps businesses create unique whiteboard animation videos for everything from Internet marketing to tutorials.
Don't Wait to Get Engaged
There are plenty of creative ways for you to publish content on your site that will entice visitors and keep them engaged for a long time. In addition to crafting your blog posts and other text content to attract more visitors, you can also leverage one of the many solutions that allow you to include multimedia content on your site, such as images or video. That being said, the most important thing is to keep up with your website analytics to determine which content (and content types) your users gravitate toward.
Michael Garrity, Director of Marketing for Francis Lofts & Bunks, is an accomplished writer with a rich background in marketing, communications, and community engagement. With expertise in content creation and management, marketing strategy, digital advertising, SEO, social media management, and proficiency in various tools including Microsoft Office, Adobe InDesign, and Adobe Photoshop, he is well equipped to deliver outstanding results. Holding a BA in English Literature from St. Joseph's College (IN), Michael graduated Summa Cum Laude with a 3.92 GPA, honing his strong communication skills. His diverse experience makes him a valuable asset to any team.