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Ah, I know I’ve piqued your interest, haven’t I? 😉 We all want to keep readers on the blog for longer periods of time.
Let’s face it.
The longer they stay, the more likely it is that they will engage with your content in some way or another. You may get a subscriber, perhaps a comment with a query or you may end up making an affiliate sale.
First, how do you know how long they are actually on the blog?
Enter Google Analytics.
If you are on self-hosted WordPress, you’d be able to connect your blog to Google Analytics. It’s the best tool to track everything about your blog traffic.
This includes insights into your audience.
For example, here is a snapshot of one week’s traffic from my blog
As you can see, I’ve averaged about 230 page views per day during that week.
However, the thing I want you to focus on is the ‘Avg Time on Page’.
Most bloggers will ask you to focus on bounce rate and that’s a mistake.
You can have a lousy bounce rate but still get engaged readers.
The ‘average time on page’ tells you how long people stayed on your blog.
But, how do you actually get people to stay on your blog instead of clicking away immediately?
Below, I share 11 ways you can improve that average time on page. Ready?
This post contains Referral/Affiliate links. What that means is if you click on any of the links and make a purchase, I get a commission at no extra cost to you. Read my complete disclosure policy here.
USE A GOOD THEME DESIGN
As obvious as this may seem, many bloggers make the cardinal mistake of choosing a theme that isn’t reader friendly.
Whether you opt for a free theme or a paid one, ensure that it allows easy navigation for the reader.
Here are some best free WordPress themes you can check out for your blog.
The theme should be mobile friendly, since over 75% of users access websites on a mobile device.
Don’t clutter your blog with too many widgets on the sidebar since this can take the focus away from the main thing- your blog posts.
A good theme that is visually appealing will compel your readers to stay on the blog and move around, clicking to view different pages on your site.
This automatically increases their time spent on your site and naturally lowers your bounce rate as well.
I recently purchased the Victoria Theme from Bluchic Themes and was amazed by how easy and intuitive it was to set it up, all on my own!
*In fact, if you notice the Analytics screenshot above, you can tell the exact day I installed the theme. That was when there was an uptick in traffic to my site. 🙂
MAKE THE MENU POP
Your main menu is one of the most important things on your blog.
The horizontal bar on top (as seen on desktop) or the hamburger menu (as seen on mobile) is what most readers will click on, when they enter your site.
This is called the ‘Above the fold’ effect. It comes from newspaper parlance which means that people tend to focus on the top half of the page (newspaper) first so it has to be compelling and engaging.
Ensure that the main menu has the most important things relevant to you and your readers.
This can include an ‘About Me’ page, a link to your blog posts, free resources, your shop, a newsletter and courses.
If you are a service based business, you can add a link to that as well.
BREAK UP YOUR PARAGRAPHS
If I look at most of my older content on the blog, I observe that I’ve made a basic mistake while writing the posts.
My paragraphs were too long.
When people scroll through your content on a digital screen, large blocks of text tend to become difficult to read.
Instead, short paragraphs with one or two sentences at most tend to get better traction.
And yes, you guessed it. They stay on the page for longer!
KEEP FONT SIZE LARGE
This is such an obvious tip but many bloggers tend to overlook it.
For readability, pick a font that is easy on the eye and large on the screen.
Usually 16 or 18 size fonts do well in terms of readability.
If you’re on a free theme, you may need to get a person with coding/CSS knowledge to help you change this in your theme settings.
But if you buy a paid theme like I did, then the font settings are a one-click option that any lay person can set up on their own.
USE STRIKING IMAGES
You know that saying? A picture speaks a thousand words?
Turns out that a picture also helps readers stay longer on your blog.
The longer your post, the better it is if you have more images too.
Why is this the case?
Remember that the brain can only process certain volumes of text at a time on a digital screen.
Visual breaks in the form of pictures really help with easing the strain on the eye.
Plus, the more relevant and optimal your images, the more likely it is that people will retain information better.
Many readers of your blog will tend to be skimmers and scanners.
That means their eye will be drawn towards bold headings and pictures.
Want access to over 29 websites that have free stock photos in every domain possible? I have just the thing for you!
INTERLINK TO RELATED POSTS
One of the simplest ways to keep people for longer on the blog is to link back to a previously published post on your own blog.
This is called internal linking.
It passes good SEO juice to your older posts and is a very good component of on page optimisation.
So, for instance, in this post, I can link to a post on how to get consistent traffic from Pinterest and thus increase people’s average dwell time on my site.
Tailwind: The Blogger’s Best Friend for Consistent Traffic to their Blog (even a brand new one!)
Internal linking is a very useful part of any blog but many bloggers forget to do it.
No matter! You can still do it.
Go back to your old posts and check which of those get the most traffic.
Find older/newer posts that are relevant to the same topic and add the links inside them.
WRITE LONGER POSTS
I know, I know! Who has the time to write long posts, right?
But trust me.
You need to write posts that are detailed, in-depth and offer complete solutions for your readers.
Because, if you don’t, the reader will find the same information on another site.
A good benchmark is to shoot for 1500 to 3000 words if you want to be comprehensive and identified as an authority in your subject matter.
When you write long form content, the onus is on you to make it scan-worthy.
That means, add relevant headers and if necessary, a good table of contents.
WRITE CONTENT PEOPLE SEARCH FOR
This is so very important!
Definitely identify your audience’s pain points and aim to solve them.
The way to do that is to put yourself in the shoes of the reader and search for topics in your niche.
In this post, I share three very useful places for you to find blog ideas.
How to generate endless blog post ideas (for free!)
SPEAK TO THE READER
I can’t stress the importance of this one enough! 🙂
It’s what makes blogging so much fun and more important, not boring!
When you speak to your reader, genuinely, you’d notice that they stick around on your blog for longer.
Bonus: They come back when you publish something new.
Pro Tip: Use more second person pronouns in your text such as ‘you’ and your’.
When you make the post about the reader, instead of yourself, it makes a huge difference.
GIVE THEM SOMETHING THEY CAN RELATE TO
Relating to your audience goes beyond talking to them and writing for them.
You also have to give them the ‘me too’ factor.
I love speaking to my readers, not just through the blog but through the comments section on social media and my e-mail list.
On the blog, though, the thing I cherish is when they tell me that they could completely relate to what I have to say.
In this case, give them a situation where it is happened to you and extend it to imply ‘Hey, this can happen to you too!’
One of the things I mention as part of my basic strategy is that blogging and social media are not complicated.
Simplifying complex concepts is kind of my specialty. And you want to know a secret?
It’s completely self-taught!
From setting up WordPress blogs to understanding and designing pins that convert, I’ve learnt it all on my own.
What’s more: I teach you how to do it too! 🙂
Do the same thing for your readers on every post on your blog. I guarantee you’d see more engaged followers in no time.
PROMOTE YOUR CONTENT
When you promote your content on the right platforms, you tend to find the most engaged readers.
For instance, even though I have accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram, my most engaged readers come from Instagram!
Which is kind of surprising when you hear about how Instagram doesn’t drive traffic to the blog.
But I was pleasantly amazed to discover that when people come to my blog via Instagram, they stay on the blog, stick around, visit other pages on my blog, sign up for my newslettter and even purchase things through my affiliate links!
How can I tell this? By diving into my Google Analytics.
Go to Acquisition>>Social>>Network Referrals>>Instagram and check ‘Avg Session Duration’.
That tells me that of all the networks driving traffic to my blog, the Instagram users are the ones who stay the longest on every page that they visit.
It’s one reason I spend almost all my social media quota for the day on Instagram, building connections with my readers.
Make your readers fall in love with you and I guarantee that you’d have them hanging around your blog, reading your content and recommending it to other people as well.
That kind of word of mouth promotion? No paid ads will be able to do that justice.
With time, you’d realise that writing long form engaging content is a wholly fulfilling experience and your readers will vouch for it too.
Tell me, which of these do you do to keep your readers on your blog for longer?