This post is massive! Let’s address that first. I didn’t start out intending to create such a lengthy post. However, I wanted this to be one of the most comprehensive posts about increasing user engagement EVER. Who knows whether this is actually the case. What I do know is that there are a ton of useful tactics here.
If you take the time to implement these on your own site, you will see increased user engagement. This will lead to more email signups, more repeat visitors, more social shares, and ultimately, more profit!
In addition to showing you 30 tactics for increasing your user engagement, I go into detail and show you how they are implemented. Then I share additional resources related to these tactics that I’ve personally found helpful.
Some of these tactics will be best served by being the sole focus of future posts. I already have a few of these planned, and will link to them from this article once they are published. You won’t want to miss them as I’m going to go into insane detail. If you want to be the first to know once they are ready, please be sure to join my newsletter.
I’ve added a convenient table of contents (click to toggle) here at the top to help you skip down to the points that interest you the most. You can absolutely read this from start to finish, but I definitely understand if you already know certain points and just want to skip ahead.
Now let’s do this thing!
Table of Contents (Click To Toggle):
[toggle title=User_Engagement_Research]1. Study your demographic 2. Survey your audience
[toggle title=Strategies_to_Boost_Engagement]3. Segment users and show targeted content 4. Craft a great autoresponder series 5. Create a contest/giveaway 6. Link to your related content within your articles 7. Mention others in your posts 8. Allow users to ask questions easily 9. Respond to all comments 10. Encourage users to engage on each post
[toggle title=On-site_Tweaks]11. Ensure you are ready for mobile 12. Make your nav bar sticky 13. Add a big site search box 14. Use a design with more white space 15. Improve your site navigation 16. Decrease page load speed 17. Add a subscription form on every page 18. Add social icons on every page 19. Add an RSS feed 20. Create an About Me page 21. Create a Contact page 22. Split test different everything
[toggle title=Content_Improvements]23. Create a series 24. Post regularly 25. Write shorter paragraphs 26. Craft attention grabbing headlines 27. Add video 28. Add slideshows 29. Add pictures 30. Turn content into podcasts
Assuming your site already has some level of traffic, you’ll want to study your current demographic.
The reason this is important is that it will help you craft content that is best suited for the people actually visiting your site. You don’t want to have to guess their interests.
There are several tools that will help you quickly discover the type of people visiting your site.
With this tool you can check out your audience demographics and also gain insight into their general interests. This is incredibly useful for learning how to position your content.
Let’s look at an example. I typed in TMZ.com:
From this we can see that TMZ.com has an audience that skews towards women. What’s especially interesting is that the TMZ attracts affluent women at a higher rate than the average website. This is the type of information that informs content decisions.
In addition to demographic information, Quantcast shows us the general interests of an audience.
In TMZ’s case we can see that the audience is 4.2x as likely to be interested in sports. If you visit the TMZ website, you’ll see that they have used this information to create a dedicated sports section on their site. You’ll also notice that there is a 3x affinity toward business. TMZ could decide to use to create a business section where they focus on sharing news dedicated to business personalities. This would likely be a success.
In order to get the most insight into your own site, you’ll have to signup to get Quantified. This just puts a script on your site that allows Quantcast to more accurately measure your users.
If you don’t want to get Quantified, or you don’t have enough traffic yet, search for sites similar to your own. That way, you can still get a general sense of the demographics and interests of your future audience.
There are multiple other tools out there, such as Compete.com and SimilarWeb. I use both of these to get different perspectives on the type of audience my site is attracting (as well as to do competitive research).
As I’m attempting to keep this post under 10,000 words I’ll leave out the step by step details of using all these tools. However, expect that in an upcoming post!
This is one of the best ways to increase user engagement. Create a short survey that your users can take, which provides them with a way to share their voice, and gives you valuable insight.
There are multiple reasons to conduct a survey of your users. Here’s a list of some of my favorites:
- Ask them what they what to learn about next (content ideas)
- Ask them if they have any questions about the content they have already read
- Find out if there are any unknown points of friction within your site design or features
- Create a poll survey to get your reader’s sentiment on various topics/news related to your niche
Here are some methods for increasing the response your survey receives:
- Repurpose your content into different formats, which certain users might enjoy. Then ask them to complete the survey to access the new format
- You could create an ebook of your most foundational material
- Create a podcast so users can take your content on the go
- Create a video guide and have a survey for access
- Post a poll or survey in your sidebar so it’s easily visible
- If you poll for opinions on niche news you could have a page dedicated to all your past poll results
- Have a survey widget that slides up from the button or side of the page
- Ask your readers to take the poll from within your post
- Email the survey/poll out to your list
- Send your latest survey/poll out to your social media audience (reserve this for interesting opinion type polls, not user testing type surveys)
One of the best tools for adding surveys and polls to your website is SurveyMonkey.com. As you’ll see in the following screenshot, the interface is intuitive and modern.
There are a ton of options for how to setup your surveys. You can set different question branches (that show different sets of questions depending on previous answers). You can also completely customize the look to match your site.
Another great tool is Qualaroo, which allows you to easily create a poll to collect user insights. A slider comes up from the bottom of the page to unobtrusively collect opinions.
Here’s an example:
When a user answers the first poll, you have the option to set it up so that a second question appears. This can continue as much as you choose, which is a great way to gather information.
Here is a convenient list of 15 customer feedback questions to get your brainstorm session started.[/alert]
This is one of my favorite engagement strategies. It’s a little bit more labor intensive to setup, but can produce tremendous results when done properly.
This strategy is best implemented on sites whose content/products appeal to different sets of user types. Example coming just below.
The basics of the strategy involve:
- Create different sections on your site targeted specifically for different user interests
- Position the sections in a way that gets your users to click on the one most related to their needs
- Track those different sections within your analytics platform
- This enables you to track engagement, signups, purchases separately for different user types
- Then you can use this data to improve each section independently to best serve each segment
The reason this strategy works so well is that it allows you to create unique experiences for each major user segment. The data you collect from this type of strategy can be quite interesting.
Let’s say you have one main type of product, but it appeals to different types of users. Perhaps one segment would prefer certain products be featured, while another segment prefers other products entirely. If you just have your site segmented by product type, rather than user type, you are missing out on key data and optimization potential.
Here’s an example:
Swarm Agency helped Glock.com with the implementation of this strategy. Here you can see how they have created different user sections and get the user to click on the section related to their interests.
Now check out how they have created one of their sections:
This section is targeted for law enforcement. Obviously, they will be interested in a different type of gun than a first time buyer or someone looking for personal defense. Each user can be presented with targeted product offerings and targeted content. This leads to increased engagement, and most importantly, increased sales.
Your email list is one of the most important assets for your website. It enables you to have a direct line of communication with your subscribers.
A successful email campaign will improve repeat visits, engagement, loyalty, referrals, and profit.
I’m going to write a full post soon about some advanced strategies for maximizing the value and effectiveness of your email list.
Until then, here are a few tips to get you started:
- Focus on building a long term relationship by sending out high valued content, rather than only sending promotion type emails
- If you spend time to build up a relationship, you’ll get a much higher response rate when you do decide to send a promotion
- You’ll also get a longer retention rate for subscribers, giving you a chance to drive users back to your site for months and years to come
- Stick to a schedule for sending out new emails. That way, your subscribers come to expect great content, and look forward to hearing from you.
- Use a reputable email service provider so that you can get your message into people’s inbox at a high rate (I love Mailchimp!)
- Use short content in your emails and link back to the more detailed version from there
- Include options for users to forward your email to others, and to share on social
- My next strategy post is going to show you step-by-step exactly how to craft the perfect autoresponder series. Subscribe to my newsletter using the form in the upper right to be the first to get it!
Here is a nice list of 20 newsletter template sources. Worth a view if you want to get a professional level template right out of the box.[/alert]
5. Create a contest/giveaway
First off, contests and giveaways are not always the same thing. That being said, I like to combine them to have the most affect.
It’s nice to have a contest that gets users taking an action on your site (something that will make an impact long term), rather than just having them enter an email for a giveaway.
If you craft it correctly, you can create a long term impact with more social activity, more traffic, and more engagement.
In an upcoming post I’m going to show you an incredible strategy for crafting shareable contests that go viral, creating waves of traffic to your site! Signup for my newsletter to be the first to get this information.
For now, just think about the following:
- When picking a reward for your contest, you want to choose something that will highly motivate your audience to take the desired action. Be careful to choose a reward that won’t be motivating for the average person.
- You want to attract targeted traffic that could stick with you long term, not give away a reward to some random person who isn’t even interested in your site.
- To get your contest to go viral you need to create an incentive for your users to share it. There are multiple ways to do this, which will be discussed in great detail in my upcoming post (coming very soon!)
- Sneak peak: you will end up tracking your user’s activity and rewarding them for actions such as: sending referrals, user generated content, social shares, content ideas, testimonials, etc.
- In my post I’ll show you the exact process for setting it all up efficiently and for the most impact
- Once the contest in over, you need to craft a sophisticated engagement strategy, so that all your new traffic doesn’t quickly go to waste.
I can’t wait to share this with you in more detail soon. For now, start to think about what your reward could be when you do launch a contest/giveaway. Remember, it should be highly desirable, but specific to your general niche. (Methods for getting these rewards for free will also be revealed).
6. Link to related posts within your articles
First off, what is internal linking?
Great question! Quite simply, it is when you link from your site to somewhere else within your site.
There are a variety of internal link types:
- All navigation elements are internal links
- There are also contextual internal links from within a post
- These point to a related post right within the main post content
- There are related post sections on blogs that can appear in the sidebar or at the bottom of each post
- These help your audience find other content they may be interested in, but aren’t quite as natural as linking within post content
For this point, we are focusing on contextual linking within a posts main content.
Internal linking is important for both seo and for user engagement. When you link to relevant posts and pages your users can find additional content that interests them. This helps to increase time on site, which is a key engagement metric.
A couple of things to note:
- Don’t try to stuff your keywords in the anchor text
- Use the article title, or random phrases
- Using keyword targeted anchor text is still OK some of the time, just use it a low percentage of the time
- Don’t overdo internal linking as this just annoys people
- Have the link open in a new window or tab so that users can easily go back to the original article
- Internal links pass seo value to your linked pages and provides an obvious way for search spiders to crawl your site
- Link to your deep, inner pages, not your top level content
- If a link is natural and contextual, you aren’t going to be linking from one article back to the homepage. Rather, you’ll be linking to another article that is somehow related to the first one.
- Use dofollow links (you want that juice flowing smoothly)
My favorite WordPress plugin for sharing related posts in the sidebar or at the bottom of posts is Contextual Related Posts. It analyzes the content in each of your posts, and shows posts related to that content. It goes a step above most plugins in that it analyzes headlines, tags, categories, and main post content.
This article by Moz highlights some important internal link considerations.[/alert]
7. Mention others in your niche
One of the best ways to explode the amount of comments, pageviews, and authority your blog garners is through sharing relevant, high quality, content from others in your niche.
Don’t be a hermit.
Think of it like on-page social media. Big shocker coming. When you link out to others from within your own incredible content, they tend to appreciate it.
This can lead to direct engagement through comments they leave. Even if it’s just a thank you and small tidbit your site just gained a little more authority.
How will they know you mentioned them?
Don’t be a hermit.
Reach out, let them know. Just be friendly. Tell them you really liked their article (because you did). Point them to your content where you mentioned them.
If they like your content, they’ll will often stop by to leave a comment, which improves the chance of other visitors commenting as well.
They may even share your content with their network, or link to one of your articles down the road. Now that they know who you are, you can build that relationship.
In terms of increasing user engagement, it always help to have other influencers talking about you.
8. Allow users to ask questions easily
If you don’t have comments enabled on your site, stop what you’re doing, and go turn them on, pronto!
If you want to engage your users, build a community, and foster real relationships (hint: you should want these things), then you need to make it easy for interaction to take place.
There are several ways to encourage your visitors to leave more comments, and we’ll be going over some of those now and some in a future point.
First off, if you are writing a post with multiple sections, you could ask for your audience’s opinion on various controversial or intriguing points within the main post content. (Example of this below J)
You can also encourage commenting by putting the comment form above the comments that are already there. When users have to scroll through 100 previous comments to leave their own, it becomes a hassle.
Two of the most popular commenting systems are Disqus and CommentLuv.
Disqus is what I currently use on this site, and it’s fantastic at stopping spam comments in their tracks. In fact, it’s better than the default WordPress plugin, Askimet. I also love using the backend of Disqus to moderate comments. It’s much more intuitive than the normal WordPress system.
CommentLuv is an interesting WordPress plugin because it allows commenters to get a link back to their own latest blog posts.
I’m not sure how I feel about this, since it would definitely increase spam attempts. At the same time, I’m sure it would increase genuine interaction as well.
A future commenting system test is definitely in order!
I’ve read an article that some users can find Disqus difficult to use, because you have to create an account and login to post anything. I’ll definitely keep an eye on this, and report back if I find this to be true.
If you want to comment about your experience with any of the common commenting systems, I’d love to hear your thoughts!
While I’ve chosen to keep Disqus for now, I want to share the article I read about the problems it can create. I should note that while Gary notes a problem with Disqus requiring people to login to comment, this is not actually the case. There is a checkbox that allows people to comment as a guest.
As an additional resource, here’s a great article about the benefits of CommentLuv from Kristi Hines of Kikolani.com.[/alert]
9. Respond to all comments
It should come as no surprise that interacting with the visitors that take the time to comment on your posts (or on social media) is important for building community and engagement.
There are hundreds of people who read content and never comment. The commenters are adding value to your site, and are more likely to be your loudest supporters if you treat them right.
When you respond to comments people feel validated. They want to reach out more often.
This not only leads to more repeat visitors, it also leads to brand advocates.
- Keep a set of share buttons near your comments (notice how mine are always floating nearby)
- If possible, have a thank you system setup for after people comment
- Thank them for their comment, let them know you’ll respond soon, and ask them for a share
- Make comments friendly
- Take the time to respond with something meaningful
- Ensure that you ask people to leave a comment within your post
- If possible, have a thank you system setup for after people comment
To learn more strategies for increasing the amount of comments your blog receives check out this great article by Seth Simonds over at LifeHack[/alert]
10. Encourage engagement on each post
Another way to increase engagement is to ask for it.
People like to help others. If you are providing great value, then people will feel like they owe you one.
However, if you don’t specifically ask for a comment or share, they may not think about it.
At the end of each post, I recommend creating a signoff box where you do the following:
- Thank the user for checking out your post
- Tell them that you would greatly appreciate it if they share your post with their social network
- Ask them to comment if they have any questions or additions to your post
- Mention your newsletter and ask them to sign up to get your best content straight to their inbox
Check out the signoff box at the end of this post for an example of how to do this.
11. Ensure you’re ready for mobile
If your site isn’t optimized for mobile and tablet traffic, you are providing a poor experience for a substantial portion of your visitors.
If a user often browses on a tablet or phone, they may decide that it’s not worth visiting your site as often.
It will also lead to lower overall pageviews because people might not be able to easily find your navigation on mobile.
There are several ways to make your site responsive for mobile without being an expert coder.
If you are using WordPress or another content management system, you can take advantage of one of thousands of responsive themes. This is the easiest way to ensure your site is accessible to all.
CNN recently reported that 55% of internet traffic is now coming from mobile. So if your site isn’t already responsive, you really are behind.
Finally, to further increase engagement, consider creating a mobile app for browsing your site’s content. Mobile apps recently overtook desktop usage, and are used almost 6x as often as mobile browsers for consuming content on devices.
To find great responsive themes head over to ThemeForest. That’s where I purchased the theme I use for this site. They have a very easy to use search, and great customer service.
One note on purchasing a theme: make sure that the theme developer has a history of updating their theme for the latest WordPress updates. Also, look into their overall customer service before buying.[/alert]
12. Make your nav bar sticky
This one is basic, but important. A sticky nav bar is one that attaches to the top of the screen as the user scrolls down the page. This site uses a sticky header, and if you are reading this, you can see it right now at the top of the page.
This is important because it keeps your most important pages readily available at all times.
Keeping your navigation visible increases pageviews because people don’t have to scroll all the way back up to get to your main pages.
The easiest way to ensure you have a sticky nav bar is to get a theme that comes with that as the standard. Alternatively, if you have some coding skills or resources you can check out this simple guide.[/alert]
13. Add a big site search box
This is one that many bloggers are not currently doing properly.
I know the benefit of this one first hand. There have been numerous times where I wanted to find a previous article on a blog, and given up after trying to find it through archives.
Sometimes I’ll leave that site entirely and go search for the information from a different source. That’s lost engagement.
This is solved by having a big search box, above the fold.
Here are a couple of ways to spruce up your search:
- Have the text within the search box show examples of things they can be found
- Pay attention to your search page design
- I’ve seen sites with a great design, that just use the default WordPress search results. That is missing out on a way to keep consistent with your site’s feel.
- Have a No Results page that says more than “No Results”
- Use the opportunity to direct your user back toward your best content
- You can also include a Suggestion Box to learn exactly what they were hoping to find. Perhaps you can create it.
On WordPress, I use a plugin called Relevanssi, which creates a more advanced index of your content for search. This is important for increasing the chance of your user actually finding what they want.[/alert]
14. Use more white space
White space allows the eye to absorb the important content more easily. When a page is too cluttered, it’s hard for the brain to process everything in an organized manner.
Here’s one example of a cluttered site. It makes it hard to concentrate:
Now, here’s a perfect example of effective white space. Much nicer!
Some advantages of white space:
- Increases readability of content by creating focus
- Creates a more professional looking design (gives the impression of authority)
- The eye is attracted to white space, it just looks better to us
- People like a clean looking design, white space helps create this
- White spaces help to form the layout of your site by creating natural boundaries
- Engagement increases as users are more likely to stay on the page longer
Quick note: white space doesn’t have to be the color white. We could more properly think about it as blank space. So if your main color isn’t white, you don’t have to change everything. Simply add in more empty areas to frame your content in the proper way.
Here are 21 examples of proper whitespace use from WebDesignLedger.com. It’s always great to take a look at incredible design. It creates inspiration to improve one’s own site.[/alert]
15. Improve your site navigation
Having proper site navigation is one of the most important factors in increasing user engagement. Obviously, if visitors aren’t able to find the content that interests them, they aren’t going to stick around.
Here are several ways to improve:
- Use descriptive titles for your navigation (don’t get cute with your link names)
- Main categories should be clearly separated from subcategories
- Navigation should be in the same place throughout your site
- Use analytics to test what content is most popular and make sure it is easily accessible
- You could create a separate “Getting Started” page that highlights your most popular posts
Check out these 21 Examples of Effective Top Navigation. Dare I say it, but navigation can be stunning.
My favorite example of top navigation from that list is:
I really like how simple this top navigation looks.
Here are 40 Gorgeous Examples of Responsive Navigation Menus from VandelayDesign.com. When developing your site, it’s absolutely crucial to think about how your site will appear on mobile. Get inspired by checking out this resource.
My favorite responsive menu from that list is:
I especially like how they include their social icons. This is a good example of showing a large number of links within your mobile navigation. It still looks clean.[/alert]
16. Decrease page load speed
A faster loading site creates a better user experience. Here is a very useful infographic from Kissmetrics on how speed affects your bottom line.
The most alarming statistic: A 1-second delay can result in a 7% decrease in conversions!
Google is also now taking page speed into account when ranking sites. If visitors are bouncing off your site, or not finding you in search, your engagement will suffer.
How to increase page speed:
- Use browser caching
- Use gzip compression
- Use Keep-Alive
- Implement a content delivery network
- Try to lower the amount of redirects
- Ensure you don’t have bad requests
- Decrease the number of DNS lookups
- Serve page elements from the same domain
- Input image sizes
- Optimize images to reduce overall size
- CSS in the header
- JS in the footer
For more details on each of these elements check out the great guide written by the folks at Moz.
To check the current speed of your site you can use Pingdom. You’ll see your speed, as well as a grade for various speed related elements. This will help you determine where to focus your initial speed improvement efforts.
You can also use Google’s own speed testing tool, PageSpeed. You can either use it online to analyze your site, or use can install it on your server for monitoring. There is even a useful Chrome extension to make testing more convenient.
I like that PageSpeed includes methods for fixing any issues that are found.[/alert]
17. Add a subscription form on every page
The goal is to make it easy for people to join your newsletter. You do use an email service to provide a newsletter, right? If not, go get one here.
Personally, I like to put a signup form in the sidebar. People look in the upper right area of pages when they first arrive. So it’s a good idea to put important content there. A signup form is a good choice.
In addition to a signup form in the sidebar, you can put one within your post or at the bottom. There are pros and cons to each method.
The pros of putting the signup form within the content is that it is impossible to miss. It’s easier to convince someone to join if they are already enjoying your content.
The con is that it can be disruptive and distract people who are engaged.
Putting the form at the bottom is less disruptive. However, it requires that a person finishes your entire article before even having the chance to interact with it.
Personally, I’d rather have more places for someone to signup than less. So I include a form in the sidebar, below each post, and occasionally within the main post content.
The choice is yours. The most important thing is to place a form on all pages in one or more locations.
Use an analytics program and split test the form conversion rate in different locations.
If you are using WordPress, I like the Optin Forms plugin to handle my sidebar subscription. I did have to modify the code slightly to get it to look right. You can also use it below each post without any code modifications.
For a guide to the most popular WordPress form plugins go here. You’ll find the top free and paid options.
Learn the top 7 places to place your signup form here. The coolest tidbit is the idea of using a feature box on your site. This creates a sort of landing page at the top of your site where your normal header would go.
Here’s an example of a feature box from SocialTriggers:
It ensures you’ll get a ton of eyeballs on your form, and by indicating the benefits of joining, you’ll get a lot more signups.[/alert]
18. Add social widgets and buttons
Social media is no longer the new kid on the block. These days, if you aren’t actively fostering a social community, you are missing out on a major way to connect with your audience.
In terms of site engagement, having your users interact with you on social media should be one of your main goals. Therefore, you want to get your users to either follow you or share the article they are reading.
One of the first things you’ll need to do to meet these goals is to ensure that you have social buttons on all pages. It’s best to have a set of buttons that get users to follow your social profiles, and a separate set that enables them to share articles.
Here are some ways to increase the social engagement on your site:
- Arrows that point to your social buttons
- Test different social button configurations and styles
- Test adding or decreasing the total number of buttons
- Less can sometimes be more
- Use social feeds to show visitors the latest pins, tweets, and posts
- Ask for shares and follows (either in the sidebar, signoff, or both)
Benefits of getting more social activity include:
- When visitors share with their friends you can get increased traffic
- It provides social proof of your articles popularity, which further increases engagement
- If the article or overall site is new, and doesn’t have a lot of shares, you don’t have to show the total number
- When people see your content shared by their friends, they are more likely to trust you
- It increases your brand awareness by enhancing your overall reach
All of these things will lead to more engagement because when people see your site is already endorsed by others, it creates a better first impression.
Personally, I use the buttons from AddThis.com, which is one of the major players in the space. The ones I have on this site were completely free to install, and come with useful features like analytics. There is a premium version that offers more functionality, and more advanced widgets. Definitely worth checking out!
This detailed guide to the best social sharing WordPress plugins from BloggingWizard.com is great. I found it really helpful how the article goes into the benefits of each option.[/alert]
19. Add an RSS feed
RSS feeds are so common, nearly every site that posts regular content has one. If you don’t, get one now.
While they are an old concept, they are still used by many visitors to consume content more easily. If your site doesn’t offer one, you could be missing out on repeat visitors.
By showing people where to subscribe to your RSS feed you are offering visitors an easy way to view all of your future content. That way, when they leave, they have the chance to see your content in their feed, and come back to your site to engage.
If you are publishing a blog through WordPress, you already have an RSS feed setup, even if you don’t know about it. Take advantage of this asset.
First, I recommend using a service like FeedBurner to compile your feed. This is a great free service, which comes with a few benefits:
- You’ll get statistics on how people are interacting with your feed
- FeedBurner gives users the option to subscribe to a feed through email, which makes it even more likely that people will see your content again
- Social integration – Feedburner connects with your Twitter and Facebook accounts to allow for easy tweeting and posting
- You can create a web version of all your latest posts and integrate it anywhere HTML is allowed. This allows for easy email newsletter integration
- Ability to customize the look of your feed
To setup Feedburner, start by entering your website into the burn field:
The tool will automatically find your RSS feed and integrate it with its service.
Once the base implementation is setup, you’ll be able to customize the look of your feed, use analytics, and most importantly promote your feed on your site.
To promote your feed:
- Include your Feedburner link in your social following section
- Include it as a link within newsletter communications
- Share it on social media profiles
This helpful guide goes into the nuts and bolts of getting your Feedburner up and running on WordPress.[/alert]
20. Create an About Me page
Your About Me page is one of the best places on your site to show your users why they should trust you. It’s also a great place to give some personal details outside of your website’s niche. Showing some tidbits from your life helps your users connect with you.
Strategies to improve your About Me page:
- Include a video introducing yourself and sharing your story
- Explain why you decided to create your site
- If you have any form of social proof such as endorsements or testimonials, share it
- A picture is worth a thousand words
- Link to your most epic posts (shows instant value)
- Write in a personable tone
Check out Matthew Woodward’s About Me page for a fantastic example of how to do this right. His About me page was what inspired me to include this tactic.
This article, from BlogTyrant.com, shows 12 of the best about us pages on the net. In addition to giving some great pointers, they also breakdown each page to show why it works.[/alert]
21. Create a Contact page
Most users expect to be able to find a Contact page, so it’s important to have one. That being said, it is better if your interactions remain public.
On page comments and social media interactions add value and help to encourage other users to interact. Emails don’t have that advantage.
Strategies to improve your Contact page:
- Be friendly when inviting people to connect
- Include a section that highlights your social profiles, and encourage people to reach out there
- Ask people to leave comments on posts where possible
- Frame it as a Ways To Connect section
- You are attempting to lead people toward the public forms of communication
- Link to the Contact page in the upper right of the page, which is where 87% of people expect to find it
- If you have an offline presence, include a map with your address
From SearchEngineJournal, check out 25 great Contact Us examples. Many of these examples are geared more towards retail or offline based businesses. So if you are looking for that, definitely check it out. Even if you are a blogger, it’s still interesting to see, and you can incorporate some ideas into your blog.[/alert]
22. Split test everything
One of the most surefire ways to improve your engagement is to test it. Test, test, and test again!
If you don’t know how your visitors are currently interacting with you site, how are you going to know where to make improvements? Rhetorical question. Answer. You won’t!
The best mindset I can share is that you should place your business in a state of continuous improvement. You are either improving or you’re falling behind.
If you’re not first, you’re last. OK, that last line is from Talladega Nights: The Ballad Of Ricky Bobby, but he may just have a point. Maybe not J
Split testing is when you send some of your visitors to one version of your site, and other visitors to a different version.
You can do this by using one of the many tools created for this purpose.
Here are some of the things to test:
- Different versions of your navigation to see if pages get more or less clicks
- Different locations for your sharing and follow buttons
- Your color scheme, text sizes, and font style
- Headline text
- Everything about your call to action
- The images you use
- The location of your signup form
- Anything else you can think of for your particular business
Here are some general guidelines to split testing:
- Always test both versions of your site at the same time
- If you test one version for a day and the other version a different day, your results could be off.
- People behave differently depending on the time of day and day of week
- Make sure to let your test run for long enough to gather a sufficient amount of data
- You should segment your users so that only new users see the test
- If you have regular visitors, you don’t want their experience to change every time they load your site
- Ensure that once a visitor sees a variation, they see that same variation throughout the test
- The tool you choose should have this as an option
- Once you find a clear improvement, implement it. Then, rinse and repeat. Continual improvement.
When choosing a tool to conduct your split tests, there are many options to go through. One that I like to use is Google Website Optimizer.
This is Google’s free split testing tool, and it is fully integrated into Analytics!
To use their tool, you simply create two versions of the same page, changing one aspect for testing. Then you go to your Google Analytics account, and click the Behavior tab. From there, click on Experiments and then Create a new experiment.
You’ll be sent here:
You can set the length of time the experiment will run, the percentage of traffic that will see it, and the objective.
In the next step, you’ll input the different urls involved in the test. These are the variations you created.
After this, you’ll be able to start your test. It’s really quite simple.
There are downsides to Google Experiments.
You’ll need to have someone with programming experience on your team in order to take advantage of more advanced features.
There aren’t options to do this built into the Analytics tool, so you’ll have to be willing to get your coding hat on.
If you want to use a tool that’s more robust right out of the box, there are plenty of paid tools to test out.
Personally, I’d recommend Optimizely. This is the tool that many of the bigger brands use, yet they still have pricing plans for the rest of us.
With Optimizely you can:
- Create variations of your site without any coding knowledge
- Setup hundreds of variations within minutes
- Integrate with a variety of analytics programs
- Conduct both split tests and multivariate testing
- Multivariate testing is where you change multiple things on the site all at once, but still test in a way that lets you track the performance of each change individually
SmashingMagazine put together a guide to A/B testing, which has a lot of great information. I especially like their list of split testing case studies towards the end of the article.
The folks over at Conversion Rate Experts created an awesome comparison chart of split testing tools.[/alert]
23. Create a series
There are a couple of different types of series you can create to increase repeat visitors and improve site engagement.
First, you can have a regular series that you could conceivably do on your site forever.
Examples of a forever series include:
- Weekly roundups
- Regularly posted tutorials within your niche
- Videos answering your visitor’s questions, posted on a schedule
- A weekly podcast discussing the latest news from your niche
- Interviews of the niche authorities, posted on a regular basis
It doesn’t really matter what the topic is, or the method of content delivery. The idea is that you will add new series content on a regular, expected schedule. This way, your audience comes to anticipate when the next one will come out.
You’ll find that once you have a following, the days where you release the latest content from a popular series will receive a traffic spike.
Another type of series is more finite.
A finite series is one where you plan to post on one topic over the course of several weeks or months, but eventually you will be done with that topic and move on to something else.
If you’re covering a very broad topic, where there are multiple subtopics that would make solid standalone content, creating a finite series can be a great move.
By breaking the topic into a series, you are more likely to cover each piece in far greater detail. This is important for content quality.
Another benefit is that once you finish the series, you’ll have many related pieces of content, which will drive user engagement and pageviews.
I’m not advocating breaking every long post into smaller sections and calling it a series. There is great value in creating long authoritative content on a single page.
Rather, the finite series is for when the subtopics are related, but still separate enough to warrant a unique post.
For example, the personal development blogger, Steve Pavlina, wrote a landmark series on self-discipline. He broke this up into six parts because each part focused solely on a subtopic.
He writes authoritative style posts on hard work, industry, willpower, etc. This is perfect for a series, because each area can stand solidly on its own, but they are all related to the larger idea of self-discipline.
Once you create a series, be sure to practice proper internal linking as discussed above.
The reason a series can boost your engagement is because you are creating multiple resources of either the same general type or on the same general topic. If someone is already reading one piece of content, and you have links to similar content, you are likely to boost pageviews considerably.
If people end up reading the entire series, you’ve given a major shot in the arm to your site engagement.
I enjoyed this post by SocialMediaExaminer about coming up with content ideas. They share a list of 12 different general ideas that you can use on your own site. Think about how you could turn these ideas into either finite or forever series.[/alert]
24. Post regularly
The frequency in which you publish posts depends on many factors.
First, you have to balance out creating new content with marketing your blog. You are also juggling all the other responsibilities in your life.
So, just how important is it to keep up with a regular blogging schedule?
Neil Patel from QuickSprout found that blogging six times a week (versus 5) increased traffic 18.6%!
That’s a major jump considering we are talking about a blog that was already being updated quite regularly.
If you are currently only blogging once a week, definitely consider upping the frequency.
Here are some strategies for increasing the ease of posting regularly:
- Think of Forever Series posts (as discussed above) that take less time than coming up with a unique topic, which requires more intense research
- Stay on a blogging schedule
- If blogging isn’t currently your full time gig, then create a regular “blogging hour” daily. It might be hard with everything else going on, but if it’s important enough, you’ll do it.
- If you are a full timer, then try to have set hours, and stick to them
- Just sit down at your start time, and write that first sentence. The rest will flow more easily.
- Come up with your weekly blog post ideas at the start of the week so that you have something to follow
- Write posts that compliment larger pieces you’ve already created
- These will require less research time, and will actually improve engagement (people will be interested in related articles)
In order to track my weekly blog goals I use a tool called Wunderlist. I just really like the UX. It has all the advanced features I need while still be simple.
I also like to use the Pomodoro Technique for staying efficient with my work. If you haven’t heard of this, definitely check out this article.[/alert]
25. Write shorter paragraphs
Your English teacher from high school may not agree with this tip, but when creating content for the web, you need to grab attention in an instant.
Shorter paragraphs are easier for readers to process. They also look cleaner on the page.
Write in a way that feels natural. If you try to put on a persona, it will be difficult to keep it up. Be yourself, and you’ll find an audience that appreciates your work.
When your visitors are able to absorb your content more easily, they are more likely to stay on your site. This leads to more comments, more shares, and more return visits.
If you are new to blogging and want to get a crash course on how to write a blog post (including more tips like having short paragraphs), check out this incredible resource from Kevin Duncan. It’s an 8,317 word beastly resource that goes into massive detail. Definitely check it out![/alert]
26. Craft attention-grabbing headlines
You only have a few seconds to attract attention when a new visitor hits your page. Your headline is the first thing they’ll notice, and it needs to pop.
Having catchy headlines is also important for engagement on social media, since many people share content with the headline as the link text.
This quote from David Ogilvy effectively summarizes just how important your headlines really are to the success of your site.
The most important factor is to test different headlines and see what works best. A good piece of advice I’ve read is to write 25 headlines before publishing your article. You’ll get more creative as you try to come up with additional options.
Once you have your 25 headlines, you can do split testing to determine which headline to stick with long term.
A couple of notes on the type of headline that works:
- People love lists, so creating one (with high quality content) is likely to get noticed
- There was a study a while ago that showed that lists with an odd number of points perform better than even numbers (don’t ask me why, but I thought it was worth mentioning)
- People love specific tutorials
- Use How To headlines
- People like action
- Create post headlines that indicate doing something exciting
- Don’t make them too long (get to the point in a powerful way
- Show how your post will help them solve a problem (be specific)
Here are the four u’s of a successful headline:
- Keep it unique
- Keep it ultra-specific
- Keep it useful
- Create urgency
Copyblogger wrote a great post with 10 Surefire Headline Formulas That Work.
This post by Copypress analyzes 34 headlines to show what makes them good, bad, or ugly.[/alert]
27. Add video
Adding a video to your post can increase engagement by over 5x!
Videos can be used in a variety of ways depending on the purpose of your site.
If you run an ecommerce site how about adding video reviews or video showcases. Your visitor is more likely to stick around for longer if they have something to watch that shows them exactly how your product works.
If you run a blog you can include tutorial videos on your topic. You can also use videos to create more of a personal connection with your audience.
Videos increase social sharing and links. This is shown to be true considering that 70% of the top 100 search results for the average keyword have a video on the page.
Another way to increase engagement is to ask for videos from your users.
A few examples:
- Have them review your products through video
- Ask for them to film a video testimonial
- Have them submit questions in video format, with your response also coming as a video
- Have them submit videos of them doing something related to your niche (their own tutorials)
- Give them a platform to be creative
The great people at Wistia created a resource for video newbies on how to create a video for a website. The tools they recommend are mainly for Apple users, but you’ll still find a lot of value even if you use a PC.[/alert]
28. Add slideshows
Similar to videos in that they create another form of content for your audience. People like to consume information in a variety of ways. Providing them with options will increase their time on site, and give you a greater chance of attracting repeat visitors.
A slideshow can serve to show the most important parts of your content in a new and attractive way.
Personally, I also find that when people have taken the time to create a high quality slideshow, I tend to view them as more of an authority.
Finally, a slideshow provides a great piece of content that can stand on its own. This enables your users to share your slideshow and provides another way to generate interest and build your brand.
A more well-known brand will lead to better engagement because you are viewed as a trusted source.
I discuss a unique twist to content repurposing for gaining links and traffic here. In that post I show you multiple websites for sharing your slideshows. You’ll also find places to share your videos and infographics too![/alert]
29. Add pictures
Adding pictures will make your content more approachable.
Think about it, would you rather scroll through a long wall of text, or a post that pops from the page with pictures?
You can use images to help explain your content. You can also add visually appealing images that make your content stand out from the crowd.
However you use images, they will add value to your content, and generate longer time on site.
Depending on your niche, you can also use images to attract Pinterest pins, which increases social media engagement. Once people have interacted with your brand on social, they are more likely to interact on your site.
When creating a featured image for your post, it’s a good idea to include the catchy post title right on the image (and include your branding too). This will increase your social shares for that image, and increase the chance that people will actually visit your site when they see it out in the wild.
Here’s an example from this post:
For a great article, written by Ana Hoffman, about why it’s a good idea to create your own blog images, check this out.
If you are searching for a free image creation tool head on over to this post by SproutSocial. They discuss 36 free tools for creating all different types of shareable images. Awesome!
To find free images that you can use on your site check out this great article by DesignModo.[/alert]
30. Turn content into podcasts
Notice a theme?
Adding multiple ways for users to consume your content increases engagement.
People lead active lives.
Creating a podcast allows your audience to take you on the go.
If you convert your most epic content into audio, they can listen on a run, or listen in the car as they go to work.
Patt Flynn of SmartPassiveIncome.com wrote a seminal article, How to Start a Podcast – Pat’s Complete Step-By-Step Podcasting Tutorial[/alert]
I truly hope that you have learned some solid tactics for increasing your user’s engagement with your site. I’m still learning more each day, and will update this post as I discover new methods.
I also have a few posts planned for the near future, which will expand in even greater detail on some of the points above. So stay tuned for that.
If you’ve learned something from this post, I’d greatly appreciate a social share, a comment, or both!
Also, don’t forget to signup for my newsletter to get extra tips for improving your business that I don’t share on the blog. (Hey, I’ve got to reward my most loyal readers with some nice extras!)
Thank you for taking the time out of your day to read this. It definitely means a lot to me.