Statistics on how long the average reader stays on a webpage do not make for happy reading. The facts are stark
"Studies show that on average a reader leaves a website within 20 seconds."
According to the Nielsen Norman Group, “to gain several minutes of user attention, you must clearly communicate your value proposition within 10 seconds”. With a starter like that you might wonder why you should bother? It’s a considerable amount of your time and effort being dismissed in seconds. So really, why go to that trouble?
You bother because of the phenomenal speed of return. All it takes is a very few visitors liking your site, your product or services and wham, it goes global!
"No amount of advertising, promoting, sponsoring or hosting can equate the extent of reach attained by a successful website nor can it match its speed."
So, in spite of the daunting figures it is worth taking the bull by the horns and getting to grips with maximising a reader’s session.
What follows is a practical and succinct list of actions that you need to tick off as part of a serious attempt to increase time spent on your Home Page before moving into your digital back office.
Most of the techniques are design-based and are quickly tweaked. It’s less about fancy fonts and pretty colours and all about readability and timely access.
1. Ensure you offer fast loading pages. Very few searchers will patiently wait for a slow site to upload. This is where you lose the bulk of your visitors - and for good reason, not to mention negative ratings in Google to boot.
2. Prioritise your best work. Put your most shared blogs, infographics, logos, or videos where the visitor will encounter them first. They were successful for a reason so keep them available and shareable at all times.
3. No matter where your visitors have come from, make sure you have a search box ready for them to use. Again, very few searchers will stay on a site that does not allow them to cut to the chase. Don’t shrink your search box it somewhere to make room for something else. Visitors will turn away from a site which appears to discount their inconvenience.
4. Speaking of convenience or the lack thereof, with a search box in place the next step is to create a guided tour of your site that has public appeal and a natural flow to it. Put in lots of connections back and forth, archives, info boxes, footer links and share links. Try to apply the principle of an Index with page numbers only in digital terms and you’ll end up with a seamless and easily navigable site.
5. Which brings us right back to readability. All of your content must have that elusive but oh-so-very-important readability factor. Aside from actual grammar and syntax, look at your pages and lose the flashy outdated banners, keep fonts simple and a decent size, factor in enough white space to rest the eyes, write about what’s trending, make use of headings, lists, bullet points and make an effort with your colours, infographics and videos. Leave out anything that does not contribute to what the reader is looking for.
6. Landing pages and contact information are a must but only after you’ve offered your readers a visit laden with quality, accurate and useful content. Visitors who will have benefited the most will identify with your content and will most likely want more. Placing a ‘Your Questions’ box connected to some stock answers would go a long way to further cementing their engagement with you
7. Finally, Use the Science! Keep an eye on where visitors come from and where they go to after your website. Try to stay on top of trends in order to fine tune your blogs. Use Google Analytics, Kissmetrics, ClickTale or Clicky. All are web tracking tools that analyse visitor behaviour. Information about where, how and when a visitor leaves your site is available and you should look at it, absorb it and react to it as regularly as your morning coffee. Alternatively, Hubspot affords you a great single platform with a drag and drop dahsboard where you can create content and email campaigns, publish and monitor social media, manage contacts, and more CRM, marketing, and sales tools, many of which are freely available online for users.
Remember that although you’ve only got between 10 and 20 seconds before your average visitor leaves there’s no need to panic! If you succeed in engaging just a few visitors in that short time span, they will in turn attract their own set of interested guests thus perpetuating a constant stream of new traffic.