What makes people stay on websites for longer periods of time?

What makes people stay on websites for longer periods of time?
Photo: Daria Nepriakhina, Unsplash

I have seen many bloggers, writers and website designers mull this question over for months at a time, with little to no success in understanding what happens and what the cause is. Many have complained to me about how some of their posts are extremely popular, while others get bounced or barely get any engagement from users and clients. So, in order to make life easier for everyone, I have decided to create a short guide on the subject of written content creation. The guide is not going to be too detailed, it’s just going to be a general overview with some tips. However, it should provide you with enough tips to understand why people stay on websites longer, while seemingly running away from others.

Content

Woman writing blog posts
Writing quality and fresh content is important if you want viewers to stay longer. Photo: Thought Catalog, Unsplash

The first thing you need to make sure is how appropriate is your content. While the subject of your discussion will be highly individual to the industry you are working in, it is important to consider the subject matter of what you are writing. You can’t just get an interesting topic and write some jumbled sentences about it, hoping that it’ll work as a good way to attract users. What you need to do is measure your text.

Appropriate tone

What does it mean to measure your text? Well, a few things. First, you need to have an appropriate tone. This depends on the topic you are writing about and the level of knowledge your readers are going to possess. You want to adopt a more official and formal tone when discussing information-rich content, likely to be read by professionals. You want a friendly and fun tone with text that is going to be read by beginners and amateurs.

Vary sentence length

Next, don’t overextend your sentences and paragraphs. Make sure to let the reader rest. Vary the length of your sentences, use appropriate language and different words with a wide range of vocabulary. This way, you make sure that the text is interesting and does not sound monotonous. 

Know what you are doing

Three, and this is probably the most important: know what you are writing about. There is nothing worse than reading a shallow, barely researched article about a topic that interests you and that ends up giving you nothing of value, other than wasting your time.

Keep it concise

Finally, make sure that the length of the text you provide is not overwhelming, but don’t make it too short. This is not Twitter, you do not have a 140 character limit. What you do have is the attention of a person interested in your topic. Give them something to think about while they read, and provide them with plenty of information. Speaking of…

Interlinking

Interlinking is a way to connect your whole website and its contents. There are various reasons for doing this. First is for SEO purposes, as Google does indeed recommend interlinking your articles. Furthermore, it is a way to supply information to the reader which is not fully disclosed in the article. This, in turn, increases the time readers spend on a website by following up one article with another.

However, the limit on interlinking needs to be considered. For example, brightening up your article with blue underlined text is already a terrible idea. But having about 1 link per 200 words is acceptable. For example, there are plenty of good examples where the interlinking was done efficiently, without overwhelming the reader. 

Design

Man redesigning website layout
Website design is really important and should be easy for the reader to follow. Photo: CyberRabbit, Pixabay

Make sure that the design of your website is pleasant. You might be providing some of the most interesting and relevant information in your field, but if your design has not changed since the early days of the internet, nobody will want to spend more than 30 seconds on the website. A good design lends legitimacy, as well as viewing pleasure to the visitor. If they like your website and the visuals are pleasant, the clients are more likely to spend more time there and, simultaneously, read more of your content. 

This means splitting text into smaller paragraphs, having shorter sentences, pleasant colours and beautiful photos. It means not cluttering your website with images and popups. It means a smooth design and operation of your page. It might cost a bit more, but it is important. If you’re still insure what to be aiming for, just hop online and do some more research. 

Rewards system

You might want to consider introducing a rewards system to the page. Something simple: consider likes on Facebook, upvotes on Reddit or some other ability to positively (or negatively) reflect on the content. This may increase the engagement rate and will allow you to see what content draws more people to it. You can adapt your website to the reactions of your visitors and tailor it more to their tastes. Eventually, through this process, you will be able to produce content that is perfect for them! 

What do you think about it?