How to Increase the Time Visitors Spend on Your Web Pages
One of the most valuable things you can do for your marketing is to increase the amount of time visitors spend on your website. Often referred to as “session duration,” the amount of time a visitor spends on your site is incredibly influential in boosting search engine optimization (SEO) and website conversions.
Session duration is the most important website metric for your organization to focus on (other than direct sales and conversions, of course). Afterall, the amount of time someone spends on your website is a pretty good indication of how much they care about it.
I believe the highest goal of marketers is to create trust with their audience. What better way to make an impression on potential or current customers than providing an online presence that’s so valuable it makes them want to spend time with your brand.
Why Session Duration is Such a Powerful Metric
In an effort to provide users with quality content, most search engines watch how people interact with websites. Google, for instance, keeps tabs on how users move through your website and the time they spend on each page. It may sound a bit creepy, but this voyeuristic approach is one of the ways Google determines how your web pages will rank in its search results.
For example, a page that highlights one of your services may have an average session duration of 15 seconds. If most visitors are only spending a few seconds on this page, Google’s algorithm assumes the content isn’t providing a very compelling experience. Google is then likely to consider demoting the page in search results. If most visitors are quickly leaving the page, why suggest it to others?
On the other hand, imagine you post an interesting blog article that’s relevant to your audience, and the page scores an average session duration of 6 minutes and 45 seconds. Congrats, your page has just caught Google’s attention! If a significant amount of visitors are enjoying this content and spending quality time on the page, it’s likely other people will as well. Google may to move this page up in rank so others can access this great content as well. Afterall, Google’s entire purpose is to give users the quality content they’re looking for so that they continue to use its services.
In addition to the SEO benefits, having people on your website longer simply means more opportunities for your brand. The longer a person is on your site, the more likely they are to learn your story, consider your products or services and ultimately become a customer.
How to Increase the Time Visitors Spend on Your Website
So, what can you do to boost the average session duration on your website? We’ve found a few highly effective ways that may work well for you:
1. Update Your Pages with Helpful, Original Content
The number one way to compel users to stay on your website is provide them with quality content that’s interesting, unique and helpful. Massive media buys and endless ads can’t replace what great content will do for your brand. In fact, Google says, “Provide high-quality content on your pages, especially your homepage. This is the single most important thing to do.”
2. Increase the Content on Your Pages
We are frequently asked how long blog articles should be. The answer: 10,000 or more words. 20,000 words are even better. “Wait!” I hear you saying. “There’s no way we have time to write that many words for each blog article!” I understand. You and your team have jobs to do and don’t have the time to sit around and write copy all day.
Generally speaking, the more words your content contains, the better. We believe the vast majority of the pages on your site should contain at least 1,000 words. The highest session durations we see are almost always from pages with over 1,000 words. The reason is simple: a page containing a large amount of content has a much greater chance of providing users with value that’s worth spending time on. And of course, you must ensure your 1,000+ words are high quality. Don’t drone on, rewriting the same thing again and again. Write short paragraphs and use bullet points when possible.
3. Add More Images to Your Content
Bulking up your pages with useful content is great, but remember to accompany the text with visuals. No one wants to read hundreds of words online without supporting imagery. We see the time spent on page rise dramatically when good images are added throughout. High-quality infographics are especially effective in helping visitors to stay on pages.
4. Embed Relevant Videos
A few months ago, one of our service pages had an average session duration of only 56 seconds. We created a brief video that gave a demo of the service, uploaded it to YouTube, then embedded it on the page. After 30 days, the session duration improved to 6 minutes and 50 seconds. We have seen similar results on many clients’ websites.
Adding a good video that’s relevant to your content is a fantastic way to keep visitors from quickly leaving the page. If you have a quality video that will support and enrich the content of your page, consider including it.
5. Use Internal Linking
Digital marketers often forget the value of linking within their website. Internal linking encourages both search bots and visitors to move around to different sections of the same website. We have seen this practice boost time on page and help SEO.
Don’t rely on just search engines or social media to make your audience aware of your great content! Encourage your visitors to explore other areas of your site by including links to relevant pages.
It’s a good idea to link from your blog articles to your products or service pages, and vice-versa. While this practice won’t necessarily increase session duration on a particular page, it will keep visitors on your site longer and reduce your bounce rate.
President and Co-Founder of Blue Compass, Drew Harden is the author of The Content Marketing Miracle and serves as a speaker at marketing conferences around the country on topics like search engine optimization and digital marketing. He has been cited by many publications, such as PR News and USA Today.