One of the most important and often forgotten website statistics is visitor length.
Average visitor length doesn’t refer to how tall a person visiting your site is (but wouldn’t it be cool if browsers did capture that sort of info – the clothing stores would have a field day!), it refers to how long people stay when they visit your website. Sadly many webmasters find that their visitors usually hang around for about 30 seconds and then click away never to be seen again.
One of your primary goals is to increase your average website visitor length so browsers hang around long enough to be convinced to do whatever you want them to do (join a list, click an add, make a purchase, subscribe to a membership, fill out a form etc.).
How To Increase Website Visitor Length
1. Quality Content
The best way to increase visit length is to have quality content on your site. The more interested in your articles the visitor is the more time he/she will spend reading them. I will assume you are already working towards the goal of adding quality content to your site so I’ll move on to other ways to increase visit length.
2. Multiple Page Articles
If you have long articles break them down into multiple pages. This will increase your pageviews and also helps those with slow net access. You probably already see a lot of bloggers using this method by listing only the first few paragraphs of a post on the front page with a more… or continue reading link. This tip works for not just blogs though so if ever your articles start breaking the 1000 word mark considering breaking them down into multiple pages.
You can increase visit length by offering some form of interactivity that prompts your visitor to actively engage with your site. One of the best examples of this are games, but of course if your site isn’t focused on gaming then games might be really out of place. As another example, if you manage a finance blog you might consider offering a collection of calculators and planners that your users can utilize to plan their finances. Obviously you need to find something that matches the interests of your audience.
Forums, chatrooms, bulletin boards and any form of membership service helps to keep visitors glued to your site. All these services take time to build up the appropriate critical mass of users. However once your community tools take off the value they provide is hard to beat. People enjoy interacting with other people and if they are doing it on your site then you have more time to show them advertisements or convince them to join a list etc.
A database driven resource can add sticky power to your site keeping visitors busy mining your data or reading through your resources. A friend of mine recently created 5000+ new entries into his blog by using a bot to gather recipe mixes for cocktails from the web. This served to create a resource – a database of drink mixes – and heck of a lot of new pages for his site.
Some resources can be captured from existing data online (but be careful about copyright – don’t steal and break the law!) and others may take time to build up because the ingredients are unique and require manual collection.
Presenting Your Value
The key here is to create visitor value. Value leads to an increase in visit length. Other variables such as web design (how you present your value) will greatly impact how successful your site is. Poor design will impact the ability of your visitors to locate the value you offer. A well thought out business site offers a clear path to your visitor value making it easy for your audience to enjoy your content. Sometimes simple web design changes can be enough to increase your site’s visit length and overall website effectiveness. As with everything in online business, test your changes to make sure you can empirically validate your assumptions.