We’ve talked about driving traffic to your website ad-nauseum. But traffic becomes almost irrelevant if you’re unable to capture and hook the attention of your visitors. As a webmaster, it is completely your responsibility to make sure your website is like flypaper for your visitors so that they don’t hit the dreaded Back button on their browsers.
Aside from losing viable sales leads, there is evidence to demonstrate that Google is looking into Bounce Rates as a measurement of the website’s relevance to the top of the search results. This could mean your website slipping down the search engine rankings – a self-completing vicious circle that throttles traffic to your precious business.
In 2015, with a vast array of free and premium web development tools and Content Management Systems with gorgeous themes, there is simply no excuse for an unkempt, broken website. You can integrate your website with powerful marketing psychology so that the attention of your visitors becomes an easily directed, predictable flow that almost hypnotically leads them to performing the action that you want, which could be:
- Clicking the Buy Button
- Absorbing the salient features of your article
- Clicking on ads
- Moving on to the next article that you recommend
- Sharing it to their Facebook
Why Do Visitors Bounce?
The reason why people exit or bounce off websites is broken into 2 broad categories:
- Your website turned them off
- They were looking for information that your website didn’t offer
By keeping the above two points in mind while crafting your webpage, you will eliminate a significant chunk of your bounce rates. Here are some questions you can ask yourself when you sit down to design your webpages:
- How will people be landing at this page?
- What will be the intention of the traffic? Are they looking to buy, or for information?
- What is the biggest question on your visitor’s mind as they reach your page?
- And how soon are you telling them what they need?
Bounce Rates: A Primer
You should know the benchmarks for great and not-so-great bounce rates before you can make education decisions about what’s working and what’s not – and also to conduct and enforce the outcomes of your split tests.
Here are industry standard figures for bounce rates:
- Content Websites: 40 – 60%
- Lead Generation: 30 – 50%
- Blogs: 70 – 98%
- Retail Sites: 20 – 40%
- Service Sites: 10 – 30%
- Landing Pages: 70 – 90%
The next section will give you the most helpful tips that we believe will enable you to create the perfect webpage and make your visitors stay for a long time and come back again and again.
Right at the moment a visitor lands on your page, there will be a split second decision in their brain about what they think of your website. You have to make that first impression count – and a poorly made website with hodgepodge content will make them run for their lives.
It’s imperative that the overall layout of your website is simplistic, aesthetically pleasing to the eye, and has the content displayed in a manner that attracts attention to the most important bits naturally. Here’s how to design the perfect layout:
- Even before firing up Photoshop, get your design and layout on paper first
- Decide a light, pleasant color screen that contrasts the text color to the background, making it easy on the eyes.
- Divide up your layout into neat blocks that are visually distinctive, in order to stress continuity and breakage and to divert attention.
- Design keeping mobile devices in mind as well
- Pay attention to small details like overlapping text, broken borders – these small things are big turn-offs
Your headlines should be written such that they jump out of the webpage. Don’t take this literally though – headlines are a way to direct the users’ attention to where you want it.
A great headline also has the ability to capture and keep attention, and is usually done in a tantalizing way that hints at the great content that follows.
There’s a reason why clickbait titles are spreading like pestilence all over the Internet – and that’s because they are hypnotically almost irresistible not to click on. But as a serious marketer with a real business, you can never resort to clickbait to ensnare visitors – clickbait titles like “You won’t believe this horse in outer space” damage credibility and respect, are childish and immature and usually leave visitors with “click-shame” after watching a thoroughly useless video that was not even as interesting as the headline.
There is a fine line between clickbait and great headlines – “listicles” are still a great way to title your content – “6 ways to boost your traffic overnight” is a great title, or “A special coupon code to get 20% off your products right now” is another great one.
Let’s take a moment to talk about typography and legibility. A rule of thumb is to not use more than a maximum of two typefaces in your website layout. There are great fonts over at Google Fonts that you can use to maximize ease-of-reading. Remember, always choose functionality over whizbangy fancy curly text that causes your visitors to get turned off and leave.
Whichever font you choose, it’s important to be consistent in your choice and have the same font show up everywhere. Experiment with a block of text made up by your chosen font and ask yourself how easy is it to read?
You can play around with font sizes and style as much as you want as far as your headlines, titles and calls to action go – remember to split test!
As far as choosing colors – decide on a set of consistent, complementing tones – and repeat this color scheme all over your website. The key is to keep it simple and easy on the eyes and to avoid visual overload.
- Don’t write for search engines
This is another big mistake people make, and specially applies to business owners who have been duped by “free online seo tutorials” to write for the search engines. Now, while 10% keyword stuffing may have worked in 2001, right now all inflated keyword density is doing it turning off visitors to your website. Keyword density is optimally kept to 2% to 3% – and that’s all.
Nobody wants to read an article about dog training where we teach you tips about dog training so that you learn dog training and the best dog training tips to train your dog better (this sentence was very painful for us to type).
Make sure to intersperse your text with semantic keywords that are relevant to your content – this will help search engines understand that you’re writing an article relevant to your keyword. Here is the world’s shortest and most effective guide to On Page SEO: put your keyword:
- Once in the title
- Once in the page URL
- Once in the meta description
- Once in the first paragraph
- 2-3 times in the body
That’s all. Tailor your content for humans, and the search engines will take care of themselves.
- Watch your load speeds
There is nothing more annoying than a page that doesn't load fast. Most people will likely give up and leave after staring at a blank page for 30 seconds waiting for your website to load. Here’s a quick list on how to boost your website speed right now, in the next one hour:
- Consider hosting on dedicated, fast hosts.
- Smush or minify (compress) your homepage images, by 30-40% – they are the biggest culprits in slow loading websites
- iFraming other websites on to your website will drastically decrease load speeds. So will heavy JS calls, and external functions.
- Enable Caching on your website to tremendously boost website speeds.
- Use a CDN to make sure your website is protected against attacks and is always available.
- Calls to action
Without a clear call to action, your visitors will surf around aimlessly, and then drift off to another appealing corner of the internet. It is imperative you direct their attention in a clear manner to the place where it needs to be – your email signup form ; your buy button ; your next relevant article.
Your calls to action must stand out from your text in a clear way. It’s good practice to keep one in the beginning of your article, and one at the end. Plain text links with compelling anchors work best! Always test your calls to action by performing the same action a visitor would ; click your links to see if they go where you want them. Enter your own email in your capture box, and see if it records in your Contact Manager.
- Quick word about ad placement
A “made for Adsense” website plastered with ads galore and little to no relevant content is a huge contributor to bounce and exit rates. Make sure your ads are small, non-intrusive and visible.
The sidebar is usually the best position to display your ads, followed by inter-content and then pop-up ads (in increasing order of “annoyingness”).
- Navigation and endless black hole of clicking next
Some of the most successful websites have a “stickiness” that keeps visitors on the webpage for ridiculous amounts of time. These websites employ “infinite scrolling” – leading the reader down and down into a never ending abyss of related articles. Or they have huge calls to action at the end of articles to contextually relevant articles that the reader might be interested in. Your job as a webmaster is to make all your content as easily accessible as possible – WordPress plugins like YARP will take the guesswork out of this and display the visitors a section where they can see related articles and the most popular articles on your website.
- Social Proof
Another powerful appeal to psychology comes from embedding your “social proof” onto your webpage. This can be as follows:
- Testimonials (with links to real social media profiles) from your trusted customers who love your services.
- A counter indicating the number of Facebook Shares/Twitter Retreats/other social signals that your website has gotten.
- A long, constructive comment chain from real people in the comments section of your website (make sure to weed out the trolls and spammers!)
Last, but not the very least – the footer of your website should have clear, prominent links to your contact information, your Social Media pages and a map of your physical location (if any). You should come across as a real person who is open to contact – so add a link to a Contact Form on there!