10 Ways to Make Visitors Stay on Your Website for Longer

September 17, 2019

How long do visitors typically spend on your website? According to HubSpot, more than half of all online users spend less than 15 seconds when visiting a website. It’s difficult to convert visitors into customer in such little time, and search engines may lower your site’s rankings if it has a low average session duration for its niche. But there are ways to encourage visitors to stay on your website for longer.

1) Clean Up the Design

Visitors won’t stay on your website if it features a cluttered design. A study conducted by Microsoft from the average person’s attention span is now just eight seconds, compared to 12 seconds in 2000. If your website features a cluttered design with an excessive number of visual elements all crammed together, you’ll struggle to capture visitors’ attention, resulting in a shorter session duration. To keep visitors on your website for longer, use a clean, modern design that focuses on your brand message.

2) Improve Navigation

The way in which your website’s navigation is structured will affect how long visitors stay. Displaying a link to each individual page in a sidebar or header menu isn’t an effective strategy. As your website grows and encompasses more pages, you may have hundreds of unsorted links in the menu, making it difficult for visitors to find content on specific topics. Instead, use a breadcrumb-style navigation structure that involves hierarchically organised category pages. You can then include links to only the top-level category pages on your website’s sidebar or header menu, which visitors can click to find links to other pages of related content.

3) Publish Long-Form Content

Long-form content has become the cornerstone of an effective search engine optimisation (SEO) strategy. In addition to driving higher search rankings, though, it also encourages visitors to stay on your website for longer. Research shows that the average adult is capable of reading about 250 words per minute. If you publish a short 250-word article on your website, visitors may stay for just one minute, even if they read the entire article. By stretching out your website’s content to 1,000 words, visitors will spend about four minutes reading your articles.

4) Use Contextual Internal Links

You can keep visitors on your website for longer by guiding them to other relevant pages on your website. The more pages a visitor accesses, the longer he or she will likely stay. Visitors can always use your website’s primary navigation menu to find other pages, but you should use contextual internal links to further guide them around your site. Contextual internal links are words or phrases in your website’s content that are linked to other relevant pages on your site. If a visitor comes across a linked word or phrase while reading an article, he or she can click it to learn more about the linked topic on another page.

5) Limit Use of External Links

Use caution when adding external links to your website’s content. Unlike internal links, these links send visitors away from your website, so using too many may result in a shorter average session duration. External links can make your content more valuable by guiding visitors to other relevant websites, but you should use them in moderation. A good rule of thumb is to use no more than one external link per 100 words. And if you’re still worried that external links will hurt your website’s average session duration, place them at the bottom of your content rather than within the content itself.

6) Optimise for Mobile Viewing

Mobile devices now account for 52 percent of all global internet traffic, compared to just 31 percent in 2015. Unless your website is optimised for mobile viewing, though, these mobile users may encounter usability problems like hard-to-read font sizes, touch points too close together and horizontal scrolling, in which case they’ll quickly back out of your site. To keep visitors on your website, optimise it for mobile viewing by using a responsive theme or template that automatically adjusts to fit the device on which it’s viewed.

7) Add Images to Text

Images do more than just improve the aesthetics of your website; they help convey messages presented in the adjacent text while also encouraging visitors to stay for longer. As visitors read through your website’s content, they stop to take a look at the images. Even if it only disrupts a visitor’s reading for a split second, it still slows down the speed at which he or she consumes your website’s content, which means a longer session duration.

8) Publish Videos

Whether you host them yourself or embed them from YouTube, publishing videos on your website may encourage visitors to stay for longer. According to the video app company Animoto, visitors spend an average of two minutes longer on pages with video than pages without video. Visitors can simply scan text and images, but to watch to watch a video, they must click the play button and wait for it to finish.

9) Cut Back on Ads

Publishing ads on behalf of another company or an ad network is a great way to monetise your website. However, you should be conscious of how those ads affect user performance metrics like average session duration. Displaying too many ads on your website, especially intrusive ads like autoplay video with sound or pop-ups, may irritate visitors as they try to distinguish between organic and sponsored content.

10) Improve Speed

Fast-loading website usually have a longer average session duration than slow-loading websites. With high-speed broadband services becoming more common, visitors expect websites to load almost instantly after clicking a search listing or link. If there’s a long delay, visitors may leave before their browser finishes loading the page. For a higher average session duration, optimise your website so that it loads more quickly. Enabling browser caching, deploying your website on a content delivery network (CDN), adding expires headers to your .htaccess file and using web-optimised images can all improve your website’s speed.

Attracting visitors to your website is only beneficial for your online business if they stay for a meaningful amount of time. While you can’t prevent visitors from leaving, you can encourage them to stay longer by following these tips.