Getting people to click on your web site can be hard enough, but a bigger challenge is enticing visitors to stay on long enough to read your content. An engaging web site can reducing your bounce rate and boost average page time—these are two valuable web site engagement metrics for any business or blog. Effective engagement is as much a matter of layout as it is content and can be approached from a variety of angles.
Search Bars and Filters
A simple but very easy to overlook feature is the common search bar. Although search bars come in handy for a variety of reasons one of the more pressing ones is when people knows what they are looking for but can’t find it due to the volume of content that has been posted since their last visit. Google Custom Search bars or WordPress’s search widgets are common methods of getting this feature onto a site.
Regardless of how you do it, the important thing is that it works well. Ideally, the search bar should be able to look by keyword tags (if your site uses them), partial phrasing, and exact phrasing.
Another method of accessibility is offering a way for content to be filtered, such as by year, date, or keyword. Ideally this will be in the form of a dropdown or click menu rather than a calendar page since anyone who needs something further back is going to have to flip through it quite a few times.
When someone finishes reading a piece of content, they may still be curious for more. This is more common on blogs than on business sites, but overlap does exist and should be catered to when possible. Consequently, keeping a “related content” entry near the bottom of your pages will allow anyone who has finished reading to quickly move on to something else that catches the eye.
Keep in mind that related content is different from popular, recent, or “people who viewed this also viewed” content. If you can, try and include two or three of these selections, but if you must choose one out of the pack, go with related. After all, recent content should be easy to find by going to the homepage, and popular or “also viewed” items aren’t guaranteed to be in the reader’s interest. Related content, however, is close enough to something that they have already shown a preference for, making it the better default choice.
Allow For Interactions
A good method of improving engagement is to let visitors actually engage and interact with your site. Quick polls and quizzes placed off to the side can provide a way to not only get feedback but also offer some levity or participation by the reader. You may have noticed that Google’s doodles sometimes contain interactive elements or small games—another example of interaction prompting engagement.
Methods of interaction can be used to promote more direct services too. Support via live chat can provide very real and very valuable service to visitors but is still another form of interaction that promotes engagement.
Move Away From the Conversion Mentality
This may seem like an odd piece of advice—after all, the purpose of a business’s web site is to turn visitors into customers—but it can pay out in the long run. As mentioned above, Google sometimes includes interactive doodles or little games on its search page. These are activities that have nothing to do with the search engine and technically even detract from their service since, if you are busy playing their doodle game, you aren’t using the search bar. Despite this, the doodle is still a form of content that helps endear the company to users even if it doesn’t directly serve any conversion goals.
While you don’t want your web site to be too overloaded with irrelevancies or distractions, there is nothing wrong with including something fun your readers can enjoy even if it isn’t related to conversion. Personality is a great way to stand out from the crowd, after all.
Video and Graphics
Including video, graphic, or infographic content can be a good way to enhance material—especially if done in an entertaining fashion. Visual aids can be especially helpful when trying to demonstrate how a product is used, “before and after” images are a great way to enhance information beyond the written word.
There are a few caveats to keep in mind, though. Ideally, a page should not be devoted solely to video content since some people won’t be willing (or aren’t able) to view a video. When possible, include at least a written summary of the visually-imparted information so these individuals aren’t left out. You should also keep the length of your video in mind and try to keep things on the shorter side—ideally less than one minute and no more than three.
Let Users Contribute
This is similar to promoting interaction opportunities and is a great web site engagement metric. User contributions can be a good way to let readers not only feel like they are part of a community (which improves commitment) but also helps promote engagement and can even supply you with content. Methods of user contribution can be anything from allowing comments on articles, allowing for reviews of your products to be submitted, facilitating guest articles, and of course social media interactions.
Do Something Fun!
Reader attentions are picky,
Making yourself known is tricky;
But whimsy and verse,
(Which make it hard to converse),
In their minds, can be, quite sticky.
Useful for all this is not,
But the point is that sometimes you ought,
To have fun of your own,
So that readers are shown
Content that won’t be forgot.
Numero Uno Web Solutions is a provider of search engine optimization (SEO), content marketing, and mobile optimization solutions to startups and small companies from all industries and fields. We stay on the pulse of industry changes and adapt our practices to produce quality SEO and mobile optimization plans to fuel the growth of businesses across communities. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 905-856-2012 to learn more about our web site engagement metrics and how we can help improve your search profile across all platforms.