Do your site statistics show that visitors are coming to your blog, but bouncing away before they have a chance to really get a feel for what you have to offer? To increase user engagement, you need to find ways to keep visitors on your site. There are many factors that affect bounce rates, including load times, content and even interactivity.
Here are eight ways to increase engagement on your blog:
1. Load Times
According to KISSmetrics, how long your site takes to load has a big impact on whether users abandon your page. A difference of just seven seconds almost doubles the abandonment rate.
In an article in the New York Times, Steve Lohr reports that users are abandoning websites if they take longer than an eye blink to load. Apparently, engineers at Google have discovered that super-fast load times are what Internet users expect and demand.
If you want users to hang around and become engaged, then you’ll need to speed up your site’s loading time. Otherwise, users will grow frustrated and flee.
2. Add Internal Links
Want to keep your website visitors on your site? Add relevant internal links to entice your readers to click on another article, even after they finish reading the first article. This decreases bounce rate, increases time spend on your site and gives you more opportunities to reach the reader and possibly have him sign up for your mailing list.
Keep in mind that links should be relevant. A site visitor who is reading about how to prune rose bushes probably could care less about which rose wallpaper is popular. However, she might be interested in how to keep Japanese beetles from eating her rose bushes.
3. Make Your Site Mobile Friendly
According to Mary Meeker's “State of Mobile Marketing” report, there are more than 2.8 billion Internet users. One of these global trends is mobile access, which has finally reached a tipping point. There are now more people accessing the Internet via mobile devices than desktop devices – 51 percent via mobile and only 42 percent via desktop.
In addition, Google recently announced a new algorithm change and that the mobile friendliness of websites would be factored into how it ranks a website in its search engines. If you want to keep your users engaged, it only makes sense to ensure that the 51 percent of browsers accessing your site via mobile devices can view your site and navigate through different areas easily.
4. Have a Social Media Presence
Megalytic completed an analysis of 12 leading social networks to find out which ones brought in traffic that actually engaged with websites. They discovered that Yelp had the most engagement, even over Google+, Facebook or Twitter.
Traffic that came from Yelp had a bounce rate of 27 percent on average, and the session durations was two minutes and 36 seconds long. By comparison, traffic that came from Facebook had a 59 percent bounce rate and a session duration of only one minute and 57 seconds.
What you can take away from this is that you should have a varied social media marketing campaign. If your product or service applies, consider adding information to sites like Yelp and encourage your customers to post honest reviews of your company.
In addition, you should make sure your social media subscribe links are easily accessible to your site visitors and that your content is easy to share. A good idea is to have social media subscribe buttons at the bottom of every page on the site. These buttons are not intrusive, but they are readily recognizable and easy to find.
5. Respond to Your Readers
If someone takes the time to post a comment on social media or to send you feedback, always respond. Even if you don’t like what the post has to say, the fact that the writer took the time to respond shows that he is engaged with your site.
In fact, you can sometimes take a reader who isn’t happy about what you wrote and turn them into a loyal fan. Be willing to listen to another viewpoint, give them a forum to voice an opinion and respond with respect.
Others will see that it is safe to post their own thoughts and may also be more likely to post a follow-up. You can also utilize sites like Disqus and Reddit to encourage conversation.
6. The Layout Should Be Simple
According to Fast Company, the fastest-growing demographic on Twitter is older adults between the ages of 55-64. That age bracket has increased in social media engagement by 79 percent in the last few years. On Facebook, those aged 45-54 are growing most rapidly in number.
What does this mean for your website? Since some of these users are not as tech savvy as their younger counterparts, it means that you should ensure your site has a simple navigation structure and that key categories are easy to find and engage with. In addition, you’ll want to offer content that speaks to this age group.
7. Add Videos
In the same Fast Company article, it is stated that YouTube now reaches more adults in the 18- to 34-year-old range than any of the cable networks. This is a terrific opportunity to reach that age bracket and engage them. Add a few instructional videos on your site for SEO and to reach new users on YouTube.
Digital Sherpa also cites that videos increase people’s understanding of a product or service by as much as 74 percent. Users that understand your service or product are going to be a lot more likely to stick around and perhaps purchase something, even if your main revenue is from advertising revenue.
Over the last year, YouTube “how-to” searches have grown 70 percent. Moreover, over 100 million hours of how-to content has been watched so far this year in North America alone. With the insurgence of millennial searches for “how-to” content, having videos like these shared by CJ Pony Parts can greatly increase engagement with your audience.
8. Add User Polls
Today’s average site visitor is a very busy person. He or she is likely accessing your site while on the run. Perhaps he has a few minutes while waiting to see the dentist or in line at a drive-through to pick up dinner for the family.
This means he may not have time to write out a long response in the comments section. However, you can still encourage engagement by offering a quick way for him to respond and be a part of the discussion.
Add a poll to your site. To keep things quick, make it a yes or no question or limit the number of possible responses. By adding polls, users who might not otherwise have time to comment can still have a voice and become engaged in your site’s content.
You’ve probably heard that content is king. This is still true, but there are a lot of elements that go into coronating that content. In addition to writing articles that are well researched and pertinent, you’ll need to make sure your site is designed to draw the reader in and keep her engaged.
How do you increase engagement on your blog? Drop us a note below, we'd love to hear from you!
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Sarah Landrum is a freelance writer and career blogger sharing advice on finding happiness and success in life and at work. You can find her dishing out advice with a side of wit on Twitter and her career advice blog, Punched Clocks.