It's awesome to see a site that has growing traffic, is ranking for more keywords, and is growing by the day.
But it stinks when 75%+ of your visitors are bouncing off of the first page they visit. Or when they aren't staying very long at all.
They aren't getting tuned in, aren't becoming connected on a deeper level, and probably won't be coming back.
And worst of all is that they're less likely to give you an email address, click an ad, or buy a product.
They're just gone. Wasted.
So today I'm going to give you some easy steps for improving user metrics. This will improve your bounce rate, time on page, pages per session, and your rankings.
How To Improve User Metrics For Your Site
Today I'm going to give you some easy steps for improving user metrics. This will improve your bounce rate, time on page, pages per session, and your rankings.
You can improve your user metrics by:
- Building an emotional connection
- Linking to relevant content
- Adding videos and graphics
- Allowing for easy social sharing
- Improving writing
- Making it clear what the user should do
Build An Emotional Connection
Building an emotional connection can help you improve pages per session, decrease your bounce rate, get more email subscribers, and draw backlinks or shares to your content.
People are built around the need for relationships. We crave feeling connected with someone, seeing a bit of ourselves in their story.
So this is a super powerful step and one of the main strengths of sites like Niche Pursuits. One of the coolest things about writing for a blog is that I know that a lot of you guys and gals know and love hearing from Spencer. You're interested in the Niche Site Project 4, his new software tool Link Whisper, how he does in marathons, and so on.
You can't find that connection on monster sites like WebMD.
When you come to Niche Pursuits, you know that you can find someone who has struggled to escape the 9-5, who loves his family, who wants others to succeed. One of the reasons for the success of Niche Pursuits is Spencer himself.
And I'm not just spouting emotional nonsense. I have data to back it up.
When you check Niche Pursuits's backlinks, you see something pretty amazing:
The pages with the most links are the pages where Spencer tells his story.
And this trend holds true. Of the top 100 pages with the most backlinks on all of Niche Pursuits, 4 of them don't have a mention of Spencer's story.
And Spencer has never built a single backlink to his site.
These types of “story posts” can be keyword targeted. They just have a mention of something that Spencer has done in his life. People don't need to build links to a meaningful story; other websites add backlinks all on their own.
If you want to improve your user metrics, start by telling an interesting story. It can be about your life, but doesn't have to be.
Authors like Malcolm Gladwell, Adam Grant, and Eric Barker have become best sellers by their ability to tell stories about other people. The goal here isn't to be self-centered, but to give your readers someone to look up to. Help them have an example to follow.
This type of connection will build backlinks for you, give your readers something to connect with, and make them more willing to come back.
The trick here is that you can't just build meaningful connections with one story. You have to build a lot of connections using a lot of stories. And to then you have to provide your readers a way to get from one to the other. Kind of a road through your website from one piece of content to the next.
This is called an internal link.
Link To Relevant Content
Linking to relevant content will help you to boost time on page, pages per session, decrease your bounce rate, and can help your SEO.
So your site is filled with stories and you're working on building an emotional connection with your readers.
The next step is to connect all of the pieces of your site.
This is done through internal links.
This tactic is super powerful when you combine it with stories, and that's what we do on Niche Pursuits. Every article links to something that Spencer has done and experienced. That's our story.
But you don't have to have stories to use this tactic. You just have to help your readers get around a little better.
If you have a website on fishing and you write an article on the best fishing bait, then it makes sense to link to an article about the best fishing poles.
These internal links help your reader go from one interesting piece of content to another.
It's an understatement to say that this has helped our bounce rate a lot at Niche Pursuits.
Spencer goes over the full benefits of internal linking in his post on internal linking, so I won't go too in depth here. But some of our posts had as much as a 10% decrease in bounce rate once we added internal links.
The majority of posts had smaller improvements; 2% here, 4% there. The trend was that whenever we added internal links, we saw bounce rates go down. It was as simple as that.
The easiest way to do this is to add links in your sidebar, in your footer, or in your content itself. In the Niche Pursuits sidebar, we have links to recent and popular posts:
And then one thing I love (and do on my own site) is have related posts at the bottom of all my posts. Like this:
One thing I think would work well is to have a post grid in the middle of your post in content. I've never tried this, so I can't testify to it's use. But I think it could work well.
The other way to add awesome internal links is to add them in-content. When we think and talk about internal links, we're usually thinking and talking about this kind.
Adding internal links to your posts isn't a hard process, but it does take a lot of time. A good internal link will require you to have the following things:
- A good anchor text for your internal links (make the anchor text something that you want the internally linked article to rank for)
- A lot of time or a chunk of change to pay a VA
- Articles that are relevant to the article you're writing now
- An intimate knowledge of your blog, your current article, and possible internal links
Now if you're running a small site with just a handful of content, these things aren't too bad. You can change anchor texts for each post, it's easy to have an intimate knowledge of your site, and it shouldn't take you too long.
But if your site has more than 20 posts, you might be in for several hours.
If your site has more than 50 posts (as it should), you're in for weeks of work.
And the worst part is that outsourcing this type of work is a nightmare. You end up with tons of irrelevant internal links and bad anchor texts. And when all is said and done, it's tough to find a VA who can internal link well because he or she lacks the intimate knowledge of your website.
This is something that site owners have struggled with for a few years. So Spencer came up with a solution.
He designed a tool called Link Whisper that makes it super easy and fast to add internal links. These links are so fast and easy because Link Whisper uses AI to detect your possible anchor texts in a post and figure out what piece of content on your website might be best.
Sounds cool, right?
At the bottom of each post, you get a section like this with link suggestions:
You can see that not all suggestions are perfect, so I put a red box around the ones I think are best.
You click the check box and click a button that says Add Links. And voila. Your relevant internal links are added.
You can make your internal linking better and faster to improve your user metrics too. Click here to get a copy of Link Whisper so you can decrease your bounce rate, improve time on page, and boost your pages per session.
Want To Build Smart & Relevant Internal Links...Quickly?
Link Whisper makes it simple to boost your site’s authority in the eyes of Google. You can use Link Whisper to:
- Bring out your orphaned content that isn’t ranking
- Create smart, relevant, and fast internal links
- Simple yet effective internal links reporting: what has lots of links and what pages need more links?
Add Videos, Graphics, or Audio
Adding videos, graphics, or audio to your site will help you improve your visitor's time on page and might help your inbound links. If you produce the videos or audio, this can also help you diversify your traffic and earnings.
This won't work in every niche, but adding videos is a super easy way to increase time on page by a lot. Not every visitor will play every video and that's fine. But some visitors will watch a video for 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 30 minutes because it's interesting and exciting for them.
Getting just a few visitors who stay so long is an excellent sign for Google. They can know that you're publishing some awesome content and that people love staying on your page.
The same is true for podcasts. If someone is browsing a site on a computer and finds a podcast, they can play it from that site. It sounds half barbaric, but I do it pretty often.
If you make the videos or podcasts and publish them on Youtube, iTunes, or wherever else, then you've opened yourself up to new traffic.
And you can monetize all of this 😉
The same is true to a lesser extent for pictures and graphics. If you put in several pictures to your posts, users will have to take an extra second to scroll past them. If they stop and look, it will take another few seconds.
Putting pictures on your posts is good practice since it breaks up walls of text with pretty things.
I think the true power of pictures lies in graphics. Graphics are cool and fun and they're super easy to add on someone's site while giving you a link back.
Not to mention that some graphics can do very well on Pinterest, which can serve as yet another traffic source.
And while we're speaking of social media…
Allow For Easy Social Sharing
Social sharing can help user engagement on the site, traffic, SEO, can add backlinks, and helps users feel more connected with you.
So this one isn't a strict help to user metrics, but it can have an enormous impact on your site.
You want to make it easy for your users to publish stuff on social media, or email it to coworkers. Something simple is fine. A little bar off to the side of the screen with social buttons is plenty:
I have similar buttons to the left side of the screen on my website as well. I know there are a mountain of paid plugins that add these, but I use a free plugin called AddThis to put these up on my site.
If you've read my recent post on improving your SEO, you'll know that I'm a big fan of Pinterest nowadays. I also have a plugin that gives users an option to pin images when they hover over it. When users hover, it looks like this:
It's called the jQuery Pin It Button For Images Pro. There is a paid version, but I use the free WordPress plugin.
Social shares help your readers feel connected with your site. That means they'll come back, be more likely to visit more pages, and will tell their friends.
Improve Your Writing
Improving your writing can improve metrics across the board; more time on page, more pages per session, lower bounce rate, more natural backlinks, and will give you better rankings.
Writing sounds scary, but it's not as hard as you think 🙂
I've adapted a lot of my writing habits from Stephen King's advice. Here are a few tips from yours truly (and more from Stephen King):
- Use English's (or your language's) correct form when speaking. There are times when it's better to use bad English. I doubt you're in one of them.
- Keep your sentences short. If you can say something with less words, then use less words.
- Keep paragraphs short and punchy. One sentence paragraphs are fine. People get distracted, so avoid big walls of text.
- Use simple vocabulary. Unless you're writing a doctoral thesis, stick to words that your grandmother and a twelve-year-old will understand. You can check your writing in the free Hemingway Editor
- Avoid adverbs. Stephen King writes in his book On Writing that “I believe the road to hell is paved with adverbs”. I take this a step further than King: I try to never end a word in the letters “-ly”.
- Your 2nd draft = your 1st draft minus 10%.
- Read a lot
- Write a lot
“But wait!” you cry, “How does cutting my my fluff and deleting excessive writing boost time on page? What about better writing helps my user metrics?”
If you've ever had a bad freelancer, you know a lot about fluff. Padded word counts are real and they're a pain to read. Even though “fluffy” writing may give you more words, it doesn't last. Your reader won't stay on the page to see all of it.
Readers will follow good writing all the way to the end instead of leaving early to go to your competitors' sites.
How I Built A Niche Site That Makes $2,985 Per Month
Want to start a niche site that can bring in $3,000 per month… or more? Here I discuss:
- The tools you’ll need
- How to start on a budget
- Best ways to generate an income fast
Good writing will also do a better job of convincing the reader that you're worth listening to. When you're worth listening to and fun to hear from, the reader is willing to read more of what you write. When you add internal links using a plugin, the reader already has an inherent trust for you. They aren't afraid to click.
Above all of this, good writing draws in natural backlinks and shows Google that you know what you're talking about. It improves your SEO and user metrics on all counts.
Make It Clear What The User Should Do
Making it clear what users should do will improve your pages per session and decrease your bounce rate.
You can make it clear what visitors should click on, where they should add their email address, and what they should see.
Our informal way of doing this at Niche Pursuits is called “the scroll test”.
When someone scrolls through our content, does anything stick out? Is anything attractive, appealing, eye-catching? These attractive, appealing, and eye-catching things should be calls to actions.
And in most cases, you want to make these calls to action for something you can monetize. Call out an affiliate, a course, your email list.
But at the time of writing, we use them for something else.
If you've been going around the site, you might have seen pictures of callout boxes that say something like “Want to start your own blog?” or “How I build a niche site that makes $2,985 per month”.
These are boxes that go to our own content. We want to redirect our visitors to posts that make us money and give us an opportunity to grow our email list.
And I think it's no coincidence that since we started using these posts, our bounce rate has decreased by about 2%. That doesn't sound like much, but it's a nice little bump in sessions when you get millions of views per year.
Here are a few ways you can make your calls-to-action stand out.
1. Use Boxes
Here's an example we have on Niche Pursuits:
These kind of boxes use big text and buttons to call attention. When you're scrolling through the content, it's pretty easy to notice.
2. Use Buttons
Buttons pass the scroll test because they stick out like a sore thumb. We have custom coded buttons on Niche Pursuits, but you can use a free plugin like MaxButtons to create your own. It's how I get them on my own site.
One thing I like to do is to make the benefits clear in the button text. So if I were to create a button for Spencer's new internal linking plugin Link Whisper, the button would look like this:Click here to create fast, easy, and smart internal links with Link Whisper
3. Add Text
Your boxes and buttons won't be all glamour. There is space for the workhouse that is regular, plain-Jane text too.
I like to use text links because sometimes buttons and boxes get caught by our “spam filters”. Sites today are so flooded with ads that we've become very good at tuning them out. Boxes and buttons can get caught in the ad-blocker that's inside your noggin.
Text links can bypass that.
I like to use text with a button to make it pop. I use my text to pre-sell the reader.
If I were to make something for Link Whisper, it would go like this:
You can use Link Whisper to get rid of your internal linking problems. It helps you add relevant internal links, gets rid of your orphaned content, and helps you rank better, Click here to try out Link Whisper on your site.Create fast, easy, and smart internal links with Link Whisper
That combination is effective because it bypasses your natural ad-blocker, pre-sells the reader, and passes the scroll text. The reader knows without a doubt what to click and what he or she will get from clicking.
Improve Your Metrics
It isn't as hard as it seems to improve user metrics for your site. It all comes down to providing more value to the reader and helping your reader understand the benefit of your site better.
What are you doing to improve user metrics on your site? Also, was there anything I missed? If so, let me know in the comments below!