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Monday, January 30, 2006

DIY Tip: Give your visitors a reason to stay!

Posted by @ 8:01 pm

Did you know that the average visitor spends over 3 hours per visit on Yahoo! sites? While that’s not a realistic target for most websites, it should encourage website owners to want to understand the activity of visitors on their sites beyond just clicks and sales. It’s an old adage, the longer you keep the audience captive, the greater your chance of convincing them.

Understanding how long visitors spend navigating through your site is an important metric for measuring the effectiveness of your web site. For example, if visitors on average are leaving website in less than 30 seconds, it would suggest that it is not meeting their needs for some reason.

Below are some tips and advice on ensuring you’re making the most out of your visitors stay and encouraging them to stay longer.

1. Provide original and valuable material/content.
We always say content is king, but that applies to information outside your basic sales pitch and information. Additional information about your field/industry, or even your valuable expert opinions will give visitors a reason to remain on your website and increase their knowledge. The more original the material, the less likely they will go elsewhere to find it. These resources will improve your perceived level of authority in your field and the relevant content is a great search engine optimization tool.

2. Offer freebies or incentives for interacting with your site.
Outside of the buying process, online visitors love interactivity. By tempting them with offers and incentives, you will encourage them to participate with your site. Use tools that can assist your customer acquisition strategies like surveys or polls. This can give you great insights into your potential customer base; and furthermore help you build a prospect list. Let’s face it; everyone loves a freebie or bonus, so they are more likely to undertake such online activities, which will inevitably cause them to extend their stay. Once you have them participating in such online interactivity, you have captured their attention, so make the most of the journey from there.

3. Quick loading pages are vital.
We’ve touched on this many times before, but the point can’t be reiterated enough. Ensure your website design and hosting is optimized to ensure your pages load quickly. Online browsers are very impatient people, and they won’t hesitate to go elsewhere for their needs if your site takes to long to load.

4. Look your best.
People judge a site in milliseconds, so unprofessional looking websites will turn visitors away. Your websites layout and appearance all work towards the overall branding of your online business. If you web pages come across in an unprofessional manner, people will be inclined to judge you poorly and leave. It’s amazing how many good looking sites I’ve visited and kept searching through even though they offered irrelevant content.

5. Make It Easy
Make your site easy to use. From the size of fonts down to navigation, the easier your site is for the user, the more likely they will stay. Visiting a website shouldn’t be hard work. Make sure your layout, navigation and even simple things like color schemes and font sizes all work towards making the customer experience easy and enjoyable.

Now it might seem like this is all stating the obvious, but when you actually start understanding how long visitors do spend on your website, you will be amazed how small changes to these factors influence this key website effectiveness measure. Most importantly, when you get the science right, the longer they stay, should translate to higher sales for your online business.

Some of you are probably wondering how to measure this sort of information on your website. There are many web analytics programs available which will provide this plus many other important metrics. If you want to trial one with no commitment, give hitslink a go. We use it in-house and its simple, easy to use interface will make monitoring your website a breeze. Click here for a 30-day free trial.

Rene LeMerle Rene is the marketing manager of - a global search engine marketing company. He also leads the marketing for - a web 2.0 style community for online and digital marketers. Rene has been in the industry since 1997 with much of that time spent helping businesses embrace the best of the internet and digital world.

View Rene LeMerle's profile

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