12 ways to keep visitors on your site longer

Your number one goal for your website should be conversions. Whether they are email signups, purchases, or lead submissions.

Strategies you can implement today to keep visitors engaged and on your site longer. @WPCurve” goo.gl/0rkShi – CLICK TO TWEET

But to achieve that goal, you’ll want to keep visitors on your site as long as possible. The longer a visitor is on your site, the more engaged they’ll become, and the more likely they are to convert.

What you want to avoid is a visitor who comes to your site, stays for 2-3 seconds, and leaves.

This article is all about the strategies you can implement today to keep visitors engaged and on your site longer. Within each strategy, I’ll give you an action item to implement, as well as any useful tools.

The strategies are split into sections for design, content, and action.

Design changes to keep visitors on your site longer

The following strategies have to do with changes you can make to the design of your site.

1. Make your site visually appealing

A Stanford study found that 94% of visitor’s first impressions of a website were based solely on the visual design.

This makes sense. How many times have you navigated to a site and were quick to hit the back button because either:

  • The site looked like it was designed in the 90s
  • It was completely cluttered and hard to navigate

The site you visited may have been a very informative site, but everyone makes snap judgements like this based solely on the visual appeal.

While good web design is not an exact science, I do have advice when picking out themes. You want to choose a theme that has text that is large enough to read and legible, that has an easy to use navigation system, and has a very clean design.

WP Curve is obviously a great example of good web design. So are Copyblogger.com, WPMUDEV.org, and MarieForleo.com.


MarieForleo.com’s simple yet highly effective website design.

Action item: Put your website through a test. Ask your friends, family, and even strangers how they rate your website’s visual appeal. If you want to take it a step further, you can even use a service like UserTesting. They will have people use your website and records their reactions so you can as objective feedback as possible. You can even give their service a try for free.

Related: Lessons learned reviewing 300 websites in 2 weeks (how to build a decent website)

2. Your site’s navigation should be simple and easy

There’s a popular web design book titled “Don’t Make Me Think”. The book’s main idea is that people don’t want to have to think while using your site. Elements such as navigation should be as intuitive as possible.

When you have a website that is hard to navigate, visitors are likely to just leave.

There are many examples of websites that have a simple navigation system. Apple.com handles this amazingly well. At the top of their site, they have a navigation bar where you can quickly find whatever it is you are looking for. Whether that be product information, support, or their online store. You don’t have to think at all.

Apple.com’s amazingly easy-to-use navigation bar

Apple’s amazingly easy-to-use navigation bar

Action item: How can you make your site easier to navigate? Think about your most important pages on your site. Perhaps your blog, contact page, and about page. Make sure those are in your navigation bar and properly labelled. If you have additional pages, be sure to add them, but don’t crowd your navigation bar. You can always use sub-menus. For instance, you can have a sub-menu under blog with all of your categories.

3. Link your content together

To keep visitors on your site as long as possible, we want them to flow from one article to the next.

A great way to achieve that is to use what’s called internal linking. It is simply the practice of linking from one post to another.

As an example, I might say, “Reducing WordPress load speed is extremely important.” Notice how I linked “Reducing WordPress load speed”? That’s an internal link.

These internal links encourage your visitors to click to another article and keep reading.

Action item: Create links between your pages and posts. You can do so manually using WordPress’s link creator in the visual editor. But if you have a lot of content, this can be a time consuming process. The SEO Internal Links plugin helps by automating this process.

Content changes to keep visitors on your site longer

The following strategies have to do with changes you can make to the content on your site.

4. Create content your visitors actually want to consume

When creating content, you want to do so with your reader in mind.

What problems are they facing? What information are they looking for? What information can you provide that would help them solve their problems? They want to read content that provides a benefit to them.

If it doesn’t, they won’t stay on your site.

So, which would you rather read: a blog post about whom an auto repair shop recently hired, or a post about 10 ways to keep your car running smoothly?

Related: Content marketing: setting a purpose and measuring success

Action item: When choosing topics for your content, imagine you are the customer. For each topic, ask yourself, “Would I actually want to read this? What benefit does this article provide ME?” If you have trouble answering that question, you may want to rework the topic so it’s of interest to your readers.

5. Use clear titles in your posts and pages

A lot of writers like to get creative with their titles.

While there is nothing wrong with this, it can be an issue if the creativity gets in the way of communication.

For example, there’s this headline “Two Golfers in One Threesome Ace Same Hole” used as an example in CopyPress.com.

It seems like a fairly creative headline, but is quite confusing. I had to reread it a few times.

When crafting your titles, you want to be sure that your make it clear what your article is about.

You can be creative with your titles, but don’t sacrifice solid communication for creativity.

curve title

A clear title on a WP Curve blog post.

Action item: A great resource you should look over on writing better headlines is WP Curve’s article “Headlines matter: A simple formula for high performance headline writing”. You’ll learn how to write headlines that communicate your topic, but also that better engage your audience.

6. Make your content easier to read

Have you ever come across a giant block of text in a school textbook and got a bit stressed at the thought of reading the entire passage?

Everyone is like that.

We like reading articles that are broken up. They are easier to read, and therefore, people are more likely to read them.

Action item: So, how do you make your content easier to read? Here are 4 ways:

  1. Use sub-headlines: notice that throughout this article, I’ve broken sections up using sub-headlines. In fact, you could simply skim over all my sub-headlines and get the gist of what the article is about
  2. Use short sentences and paragraphs: as said earlier, no one likes to read long passages. So keep your sentences short and punchy. And your paragraphs too.
  3. Use lists: people love lists, both bulleted and numbered.
  4. Break up text with images: images are a great way to provide a “breather” between passages of text.

7. Create content in multiple mediums

Not everyone likes to read. Some people prefer listening to audio or watching videos.

Producing your content across multiple mediums will help keep more of your visitors engaged longer.

This may seem like quite a bit of work, but here’s a tip smart business owners use: repurpose content.

Instead of creating new content for each medium, they will repurpose content they created in one medium and produce it in another. For instance, if they do a video interview, they will also create an audio podcast from the video’s audio track and a blog post of the written transcript.

From one piece of content, they now have 3.

Related: The ultimate guide to using quizzes for your viral content marketing strategy in 2015

Action item: Look over your existing content. What content have you already created that can be repurposed into other forms of media?

Creating calls to action to keep visitors on your site longer

The following strategies show how you can add calls to action on your site to keep visitors engaged.

8. Add a call-to-action at the end of each post

When is the perfect time to ask a visitor to take an action on your site?

Just after they’ve finished reading an article.

At that moment, they are the most engaged with what you have to say (otherwise, they wouldn’t have read the entire article). It is at that point they are likely to take an action.

However, very few sites capitalize on this opportunity.

But the ones that do find it highly effective. They may include an action box for a newsletter signup, a contact button, or even a purchase button.

You’ll notice WP Curve uses calls to action at the end of their posts. For instance, the Content Promotion Strategy article includes a specific call to action at the end of the post. They use ConvertPress to create their calls to action and landing pages.

A clear call to action at the end of a WP Curve post.

A clear call to action at the end of a WP Curve post.

Action item: What action can you ask your visitors to take once they’ve reached the end of your post? To help in the creation of these calls to action, check out the Post Snippets plugin. It allows you to easily add code to the end of all your posts.

9. Add a related posts section to the end of your posts

In addition to a call to action, you should invite your readers to continue reading more articles. They are already engaged with your content and just need that nudge to continue reading.

That nudge comes in the form of a related posts section. It is simply a box at the end of your post with links to other posts that are related to the one they just read.

Imagine you are a reader and just finished reading a post on how to buy hosting. If the related post has a section on how to install WordPress, you’d probably click on it, right?

WP Curve uses this technique. Notice at the bottom of this post, just below the comments, you’ll see the section “Also on WP Curve”.

A great example of related posts.

A great example of related posts.

Action item: Adding a related posts section is quick and easy. There are a number of plugins that can do this, but Jetpack has a related posts module that is perfect.

10. Recommend additional content using a flyout

Here’s what a flyout does: as you scroll down a page, a box appears in the bottom corner. Within the box is some form of call to action. Most of the time, it is a link to a recommended post.

Flyouts are highly effective for two reasons.

First, they don’t appear until the reader has scrolled down most of the page. As said earlier, this ensures they are already engaged with the content and likely to click to the recommended post. This also is less disruptive the reading experience than a popup appearing in the middle of the post.

Secondly, the flyout has motion. Anything with motion on a website will grab your reader’s attention.

Action item: Add a flyout to your site with recommended content. A great, free plugin to achieve this is upPrev. AddThis also has a nice tool for adding flyouts.

11. Add a popular posts widget to your sidebar

Take a look at WP Curve’s sidebar. Notice the popular posts?

This is a highly effective way to keep visitors on your site.

These posts are likely the best, most engaging on your site: the ones that readers on your site keep clicking on. It’s likely that more readers will click these as well.

You could place your highest converting posts in the sidebar, or the ones with the most visits or social shares.

Placing them in the sidebar makes them prominent.

Action item: You can add a popular posts section to your sidebar using a plugin. WordPress Popular Posts Widget is the best plugin for this. You can also download the Smart Top Posts plugin that WP Curve uses below.

12. Exit Intent Popup

The final strategy I’ll share with you today is the exit intent popup.

You’ve probably seen the email optin popups that appear on many sites. This is the same thing, but it appears when a visitor’s cursor leaves the browser window. This usually means they are either going to click the back button, or enter a different URL.

An exit intent popup is highly effective because it grabs your visitor’s attention just before they leave. It makes one last offer for them to stay.

Just like you would in an email optin popup, you need to make an excellent offer. Usually some form of free content in exchange for an email address.

A note on popups: Pop ups are a very aggressive tactic and interrupt the visitor from engaging with your content. Remember that creating high quality content is a long-term strategy and there are no shortcuts to creating a great blog or business. Consider the impact that a pop up could have on your brand.

opt in

OptinMonster’s exit intent popup.

Action item: You can implement an exit intent popup using a number of WordPress plugins. But the best is OptinMonster. In fact, you can visit the OptinMonster website and see the exit intent popup in action.

Bonus quick tips from experts

I reached out to a few experts who excel at attracting visitors and keeping them on their site. I asked if they have a few tips. Here is what they said:

Chris Ducker of ChrisDucker.com – “Guide, advise, incite further on-site action.”

Natalie MacNeil of SheTakesOnTheWorld.com –  “Tell your audience what to do next! Is there a complementary article or a free download? Guide your audience.”

Dan Norris of WP Curve -“Quality content and a regard for the end visitor is what builds trust and loyalty over time. Popping up opt in boxes before people even know what you do, erodes trust.”

Final Thoughts

As you can see, keeping visitors engaged and on your site longer comes down to three main points:

  1. Make your site visually appealing and easy to navigate
  2. Create excellent content that visitors want to consume and can easily consume
  3. Guide your visitors with calls-to-action

Follow these 12 steps I’ve laid out here, and you’ll start seeing your visitors staying on your site longer.

The Smart Top Posts sidebar used on the WP Curve blog and mentioned earlier, displays your highest converting posts. You can download the plugin below for free.

Grab the free Smart Top Posts plugin 

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If you have any tips, strategies, or tools you use to keep visitors on your site longer, I invite you to share them in the comments below.



Brandon is an Internet entrepreneur and WordPress developer. He provides WordPress advice and tutorials at myWPexpert . You can connect with him on Twitter @byanofsky .

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