Head of Strategy Insight: 6 reasons you’re (still) reading this article
Too many articles are just blocks of boring text made to appease search engines. This doesn’t cut it any more.
Engagement has become an extremely strong ranking factor. Google in particular can monitor how long you spend on a site after you find it in a search result, including whether you bounce immediately and look for a different result.
This means you need to up your game when it comes to the content on your site – and with blog posts in particular.
I will explore some key ways to keep visitors on your site, and demonstrate them through this article.
Reasons to keep reading: an enticing intro
If you managed to get to this stage of the article, half of the battle is done. An enticing intro sets the scene for the rest of the page. You might have a great article with some really useful information, but if you don’t sell it at the start, no one will see it.
Reasons to keep reading: lots of subheadings
For in-depth content in particular, it’s important that visitors can easily locate specific bits of information.
Not everyone wants to read everything you have written. Google’s ‘Position Zero’ feature demonstrates this fact well – the auto-generated snippet that appears at the top of many search engine results pages saves readers from clicking and scrolling by extracting the answers that they need. It also directs readers who might want to know more deeper into the content. In the example here the Position Zero snippet has even timestamped the part of the video where your question gets answered.
You should follow Google’s lead here and make your answers easy to find by using lots of informative subheadings – particularly in long articles that answer multiple questions. After all, there’s nothing worse than having to scroll and scroll to find the specific answer you’re looking for on a long page of text.
Reasons to keep reading: Unique or custom imagery
There’s a good chance that the only reason you made it to this part of the article is the image I used above. Perhaps you’re curious how it related to the title of the article?
Just getting someone to stay on the page for another 5-10 seconds with an interesting image can mean your site is much more engaging in the eyes of Google.
You do need to be careful on the type of imagery you use to do the job, though. This image isn’t something I randomly found. I searched that phrase and took a screenshot, which for a start means it is unique to this article. Unique imagery or graphics are much more powerful at creating engagement than generic stock imagery.
Stock imagery is better than no imagery, however.
Reasons to keep reading: Embeds and more embeds
Yes, I did have to make some really random Tweets from my own Twitter account to make this point, but it was worth it!
If you were skimming the article, there’s a good chance this is where you stopped to figure out what is going on.
The point I am making here is that text is very easy to ignore, while embedded social media posts catch the eye. These Tweets create curiosity that turns into engagement.
The biggest issue is the load time of the page. Embed as much as you can (if it’s relevant) but make sure it doesn’t slow the site to a crawl. This can undo all of the hard work in trying to improve engagement.
Reasons to keep reading: Embedded videos
Most video services allow you to embed videos directly on your page and watch them without clicking away.
Guess what this does? While people are watching a video on your site the extra time spent on page sends a signal to Google that the content is worth staying for, which can lift your site’s SEO performance over time.
Reasons to keep reading: Short conclusions – and related links
So the visitor made it to the end of your article. Great! So let’s get greedy and get them to read another one. Ensure you have related articles, or something else clickable under your article.
You also want to keep your conclusions short and sharp, as a lot of visitors already have the information they were after and just don’t read the conclusion. Don’t bore people for the sake of having a long-winded conclusion!