Can we all agree that being spammy (even just a little bit) is a no-no? We all know that Google certainly thinks so, although isn’t always that good at spotting it!
You’ve probably seen some of the worst offenders: plain pages full of hot-blue text links, crappy ads crammed everywhere, machine-generated content or even no content at all. That’s what the Panda and Penguin updates were all about. With these new algorithms, Google is attempting to more accurately predict how engaged a typical visitor to your site might be so that (in theory) higher engagement translates to a higher ranking in their search results.
But how do you make your site more engaging? Here are six relatively easy things that you can do to raise your engagement:
1. Make It Easy To Get Around
When it comes to getting around your site, don’t try to reinvent the wheel. This whole internet thing has been around for a while now, and every internet user on the planet has been conditioned to look for certain things in certain places. Put the main navigation either across the top or down one side. Use normal words that are easily understood by your target visitor. Use colours that contrast enough so that your text can be read without straining the eyes. Put your content near the top of the page, above the fold. Let your visitors know immediately that they have come to the right place.
2. Speed It Up
The fastest way to lose someone is to do nothing for a few seconds. About 50% of all people on the web will hit the BACK button if your site hasn’t loaded in two seconds. By four seconds, that number jumps to 80%. Getting a quick load time may be as simple as removing images from your background and using only colour. Try eliminating rich media ads that are loaded from other websites. If you’re using a CMS like WordPress, you can install a plugin such as WP Super Cache to serve cached content, eliminating the time it takes to query the database.
3. Format Your Articles For Easy Viewing
Long blocks of text simply do not work well on the web. Use images and break your text into short paragraphs to keep the reader interested and occupied. Break medium and longer articles into smaller pieces separated by sub-headings. Do not place ads in the main body of the text. You will be tempted. Resist the urge. Remove all obstacles that interfere with the ability to consume your content.
4. Use Video
Now that your visitors can easily find their ways around your lightning-fast and informative website, what can we give them to keep them happy and coming back for more? Sometimes a great idea is creating custom videos on relevant topics. If you have products to sell, make your own 30-second commercials. You might want to make a feature film, but you have to control that impulse. Keep it short. Make it funny. A good laugh can make a friend out of a stranger. Use that.
5. Use Interactive Polls
Nothing gets people engaged as much as asking a question. Use polls to find out more about who your readers are, what kinds of opinions they hold and what they might want from you in the future. Let them know you care what they think.
6. Waste Some Time
It doesn’t have to be all business, all the time. Consider adding a section with only photos, or one with some simple games or puzzles. Give them a place to unwind, a place with no “purpose”. If you think this would be a waste of your space, just ask Mr. Zuckerberg.