You read this far. I am happy about that. What brought you to this point? Your answer to this question is significant.
Your experience with my page holds the first keys to keep readers on your page. What comes next?
Dazzle your reader with everything they see and read, to compel them to stick around for the rest of your story. I will share a few tips that will steer you in the right direction. Be sure to download your free bounce rate checklist at the end.
The first thing you noticed was the visual design.
Let’s take a quick look at your experience arriving to my site, in chronological order:
- Powerful page design. You landed on the page and your eyes detected, even before your brain, the design and layout of the page. This is the first impression, and you judge the page instantly and involuntarily. Now, I am no design expert, but I hold the firm belief that you can research anything you need to learn on the internet. I did this with my design and layout, and I make changes all the time as I learn new things. Google the terms “web design” and “page layout” to find out some key principles. Take a look at this excellent design list. Also, head to some of your favorite pages and observe what you like (and dislike) about the design. Put what you learn into practice on your page. Or, take the easier route and hire a web designer.
- Fast page load. The speed of my page loading was another subconscious assessment you made when landing here. Usually a slow load time will bounce your readers. People tend not to be patient when there are so many other places they could go instead of waiting for your site. Google Webmaster Tools helps you accomplish faster speeds with advice for your specific pages.
- Engaging images. This is part of your page design, but you have to focus on each image specifically, especially the one at the top of your current post. Images catch the reader’s eye immediately. Or, not. In terms of time on the page, only a second has passed so far. If your image is stimulating, engaging, and unique the reader will likely proceed to the next step. Remember that the caption is an essential part of your image. The caption must be equally engaging because it could be the first words read on your page. The caption should complement the image and intrigue the reader. Compel the visitor to begin reading the title.
Your reader’s brain views and judges your site so quickly that the initial decision to jump is usually subconscious and instant.
Only one to three seconds have passed at this point, but you have either succeeded or failed already. What comes next?
Nice work. You brought your reader to the point of actually processing your language. You have to be conscious at each point of the post to keep the reader’s loyalty.
Now, you must be detailed in your strategy to keep them reading the whole post:
- Hot title. Recently, I discovered some useful advice on Copyblogger,describing the “Four U’s” of copywriting. Keep these in mind as you craft your title: “ultra-specific, unique, useful, and urgent.” The four rules are memorable and actionable, and I try to apply them in my writing.
- Opening line hook. There are lots of methods to generate hooks. Try shocking the reader with an unusual statistic, entertaining with a a brief anecdote, surprising with a startling statement, or engaging with a powerful question. Practice using different strategies.
- Solid, engaging introduction. The first few paragraphs usually make your introduction. Try to create a cliffhanger at the end that makes the reader want to continue, and be sure to include an informal thesis statement that tells your reader of the post’s content. Make the case for why your reader must continue.
- Entertaining voice. Work on perfecting your individual writing voice. You should be conversational and engaging. Make the reading fairly easy, avoiding big words or complicated language. Remind yourself that you are striving for simple, engaging reading.
- Inviting post layout. Just as your page design is important, the layout of your post can make the reading more inviting, keeping the reader moving. Online readers prefer short words, sentences, and paragraphs. This creates a lot of white space to break up long segments of text. Use effective headings to cue your reader about the organization of the piece. This also creates white space to make the post less intimidating for the reader.
- Essential content. This is most important, that you include gripping information that helps the reader and answers his or her questions. Perform research to help make your content solid and credible. Be an influential thinker, making connections that other have not yet seen in articles.
- Forward thinking conclusion. After spending so much time writing an awesome article, don’t drop it at the end. Create a powerful conclusion that is forward thinking. Tell the reader what to do with the information. You might include a simple Call to Action like asking for comments, signing up for a newsletter, or following you on social channels.
Create a User friendly website.
So you kept your reader around for the one post, but you don’t want her to leave yet. You want to encourage site exploration.
- Powerful options. Include links to other relevant articles within your post and a small list at the end. In your sidebar, create several different sections that have links to other content on site. You can use a tag cloud, a “what’s trending” list, a “most shared” list, or a “newest posts” section. Provide various, enticing ways to navigate your site.
- Variety on the site. You’ll find it easier to keep readers around if you have variety in your content so that the reader does not get bored. This doesn’t just refer to the content of your articles, but the style of the posts. Have long and short pieces (Google prefers long), include video posts of your own and from services like YouTube, Vimeo, or Ted Talks, or create podcasts. Be creative. Include polls or surveys, activities, ebooks, infographics, or tests.
- User friendly navigation. Two key navigation points are the head menu, and an index in the footer. But if these are your only methods of moving around the site, you’ll probably loose the reader. As mentioned, the sidebar of your blogs is a good place to include navigation tools. It’s key to have one or more search boxes on each page where your reader can look for something else to read. I also include an “On Fire” list of the most shared and read posts down in the footer so that it appears on every page. Wherever your reader might be, make sure they have the means to navigate somewhere else in your site.
- Generate lots of content. Google approves of this. Readers like to have lots of posts they can read in your topic area, and they also like you to post frequently, to keep them coming back. Stick to a publishing schedule, preferably daily.
Reader’s don’t hang around your site on their own. They have to be encouraged, hooked into staying. These items should help you to reduce your bounce rate and increase frequent visitors.
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