Visitor behavior can dictate the ultimate success or failure of your website.
The longer a visitor stays on your site:
The amount of traffic you receive does play a role in the amount of revenue you can generate.
But even the highest level of traffic won’t mean much if the traffic doesn’t stick and the users don’t convert.
The longer your users stay on your site, the better chances you’ll have to convert them, and the more familiar they’re going to become with your brand.
Bounce rates, an indication of traffic leaving instead of venturing further into your site, can wreak havoc on your onsite revenue, converting leads and are a terrible signal for search engines who see the bounce rates for searched terms.
There is an inverse relationship between dwell time and bounce rate.
Your dwell time will invariably improve as your bounce rate declines.
Bounces are expected, but there is a difference between a good bounce and a bad bounce.
A good bounce happens when someone hits your site, stays a while, taking time to digest and read your content and then ultimately leaves (not everyone will stay forever and convert).
A bad bounce happens when someone hits your pages, realizes this doesn’t give them what they want and ultimately leaves–quickly.
Search engines can tell the difference.
You just have to get above the threshold bounce rate down.
Here are a few charts that might help you understand what should be your baseline, brought to you by CXL.
The following are good general “rules of thumb” for bounce rates (but will change by industry, geography, page/post type and content type):
So, you need to improve your bounces and increase your dwell time.
Here outline a few ideas for improving dwell time on your website.
There’s nothing wrong with a little advertising on your site, whether that’s in the form of branded callouts or banner ads for affiliates, but there’s a point where it becomes a problem.
Obnoxious, flashing advertising or aggressive, repetitive pop-up ads can be annoying, especially to repeat visitors, and could damage your reputation as a brand.
When including advertising on your site, make sure it’s included tastefully.
Modern digital users are impatient, and even the smallest delays could impact a portion of your user base. Imagine pulling a page up on your mobile device and experiencing aggravatingly slow load times.
You probably wouldn’t want to continue onto another page of the site.
Clean up your website by reducing image sizes, using a caching plugin, and keeping your code clear of any unnecessary inclusions.
As a useful side effect, you’ll also get a boost in search rankings.
Your navigation is a roadmap that tells your users where to go and what they can find.
If any part of your navigation is inaccurate or non-intuitive, your users aren’t going to find what they’re looking for.
Keep your navigation clean, with the initial heading containing only broad categories, and keep your page distinctions concise, so users can easily tell where to go.
If you can optimize your navigation for site exploration, you’ll have won half the battle.
Text that’s difficult to read is an instant turn-off for almost any visitor.
Fortunately, there are many ways to optimize your text for readability.
First and foremost, make sure you have a color that shows up legibly on any device—and that includes both the color of the text and the color of your background.
In short, avoid huge paragraphs that don’t have line breaks.
Next, make sure your font is large enough and readable enough to draw a user further into your site.
Remember, that goes for both headlines and body copy.
Your site design is likely the first thing people are going to notice when visiting.
They’re going to form an impression of your brand and your site immediately, whether consciously or subconsciously, and determine where to go from there.
Be sure your design is visually strong, but minimalistic with ample white space so users can get a feel for your brand and feel welcomed into the site.
This goes without saying, but your site needs to be optimized for mobile devices.
If your site isn’t easy to use on a smartphone or a tablet, you’re going to lose out on a massive share of users.
Plus, non-mobile-optimized sites get a ranking penalty from Google, so you might also suffer from reduced initial traffic.
This is sometimes easier said than done, but your content needs to be valuable to your users, or else they’ll have no reason to continue. In most cases, this is primarily a problem on your blog, but you also need to consider the value of the content on your core navigation pages. Are you giving your users valuable information? Is it worth it for them to venture deeper and read more?
This is a relatively straightforward tactic, but if you neglect it, you’ll be missing out on a significant stream of user engagement with your site.
Find ways to interlink your pages with hyperlinks to draw users deeper into your site.
What type of person is accessing your site? If you don’t have a clear answer, you need to address the problem of your target audience.
Websites work best when they are written and designed for a specific type of user, rather than the vaguest demographic of “everyone.”
If you can appeal to that specific demographic, you’ll keep your users interested and present on your site for a longer period of time.
As part of your site structure, include a custom search box in the corner of your site.
This is especially useful if you have an ongoing content program or an e-commerce platform. Instead of browsing through a navigation or relying on interlinking, users can search for the topics most important to them and stay on the site for a longer period—plus you’ll gain key insights into what your users are looking for.
Your content needs to be as concise as possible.
That doesn’t necessarily mean short—you can easily have a long, yet concise article if you include enough detail—but if a user isn’t gaining some kind of value from every sentence in your blog posts, you stand a pretty good chance of losing their attention.
This is a basic rule for web development, but you would be surprised how often it is neglected even in the modern age.
Never send your users away from your site with external links.
It’s perfectly fine—and valuable, in some cases—to link to external sources, but make sure all those links open in new tabs or new windows.
Sometimes, users leave your site simply because they weren’t told to do anything else.
Providing clear calls to action in the body of your content can compel users to continue further in your site.
For example, you can draw users to other blogs by saying “If you’re interested in more, be sure to check out our post on…”
It can be tempting to put as much content as possible on the web in the form of images, videos, and written words, but don’t overstuff your site.
Putting irrelevant content somewhere it doesn’t belong only serves as an unnecessary distraction that can turn your users away and compromise your chances of earning a longer visit.
Use user behavioral insights and direct feedback from your customers to figure out why people are using your site, including what they do and don’t like about your current approach.
Then, take the feedback constructively and start making changes to make your users happier.
It really is as simple as giving your users what they want.
One of the best ways to boost engagement and grow dwell-time on a website is to add gamification.
Adding gamification typically causes users to stay on your site for 5x longer than they normally would.
This can help boost your search engine rankings as well.
Yahoo scientists Erheng Zhong, Xing Yi, Nathan Nan Liu, Liangjie Hong and Suju Rajan performed a dwell time study via Yahoo search and concluded the following:
Bounce rate averages and distribution:
Some dwell time and bounce rate stats can be explained only in the context of timing:
Regardless of the past success of your website, your dwell time could always be improved.
First step is understanding why your pages may not be performing and then finding solutions to improving the content, calls to action and other components that make up your pages so you can better reach your target audience.
Put these strategies to good use, and keep that incoming traffic interested. If you can engage your users for long enough, almost any inbound lead has the potential to become a real customer.
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