In a digital marketing world where it’s no longer acceptable to focus purely on ranking performance we look to on-site factors that can produce the most effective results in the long term.
Who knows whether those extra five back links to your site will prove to be more worthwhile over the next three months but one thing is for sure, the gains to be had from on-site changes can be much more important to your bottom line over the next few years.
And by that we usually mean keeping people on our site; Engagement.
So how can we maximise our efforts in this field to achieve the best for our site and for its users?
The metrics we look to are those we see every day, staring at us from the GA dashboard, daring to be loved:
- Visit Duration
- Bounce rate
- Pages per visit
Granted, bounce rate can be interpreted in many ways but generally speaking, if you get a user to click through to a second page, you can class them as a ‘warm’ user. They may not be a potential contact or client, but at least they see enough value in your website to warrant some further exploration.
However, the difference between a successful user visit and an unsuccessful one can often be judged by what they do next. They may have read two pages of content, decided that your site or company is not for them and be googling away once more.
Or, they could see some value in your site and whatever it advocates, but are experiencing one of the following:
• Laziness (a means to an end is not immediately apparent)
• Your site doesn’t quite answer their question/or seem to meet their need
• They are overwhelmed by your website and despite having read two pages, still can’t quite work out exactly what you offer
So what can we do to combat this common problem I like to refer to as ‘2nd page malaise’?
We need to take a leaf out of those clever user centred design folks and get into the head of our site’s users.
Here is a quick exercise we could conduct to get into their head and brainstorm some answers and take a few steps towards eliminating that sticking point and achieving that long engagement:
1. Take your top three – five search landing pages
2. Brainstorm a list of site user personas and then get 3 random people to brainstorm some others that they think are appropriate to your site.
3. Sit down in a group and brainstorm how each of these personas would evaluate these landing pages. Ask yourself the questions that the personas would ask themselves and write down any further questions they may have about your company/offering after reading that page.
4. Consider each persona’s next step, how would they look for the answers to their questions and where should they click to find this information.
5. Is there an obvious path for a reader which promises to answer each of these questions? How are these buttons/links/navigation options worded and are they relevant to the user? If you suspect your users are getting confused by wording, try making a small change to anchor text and carry out a split test to see if the results of the change are conclusive.
Now you’re on your way to identifying the sticking points and have a starting point for content that needs revising. Remember that after you’ve revised your content or linking you need to keep any eye on your analytics to check that the changes have had a positive effect.
Main image courtesy of Jesper Ronn Jensen