Ways To Improve Website Engagement & Make Visitors Happy
More and more media brands and content creators are realizing the value of visitor engagement. Understanding authentic website engagement — and being able to improve it — is directly linked to increased website revenue, better ad rates from advertisers, and increased return visitors.
The issue that most content creators and digital publishers face with affecting website engagement is their ability to measure and understand what variables are most dramatically affecting a visitor’s behavior on their site.
Below, I’ll give examples of some data that anyone can get from their website and how to analyze it to make meaningful changes that will improve objective website engagement metrics (like engaged time on site).
What is the value of objective website engagement?
Publishers often struggle to separate subjective and objective user experiences.
Objectively, using data, we can look at visitor behavior in a way that is quantifiable.
For example, if the average visitor spends 2 minutes on a site when the navigation menu is on the left, and 3 minutes on the site when the navigation menu is on the right, we can determine that the menu on the right is providing a better experience.
The problem publishers encounter is when they perceive that a menu on the left looks better. This can create blind spots for publishers that may not always be loking at visitor experience data.
Ultimately, these simple metrics and tests are easy. However, as we’ve highlighted before, not all user experience metrics are created equal.
Time on site, bounce rate, and pageviews per visit are great metrics but are not always telling publishers the truth about how a visitor is really behaving on the site.
More granular engagement metrics provide a clearer picture:
Engagement Time: How long a website visitor is engaged with the content during a session. This excludes time they spend waiting for content to load, scrolling quickly, messing with navigation, etc.
Engaged Pageviews Per Visit: The number of pageviews that include at least 15 seconds of engaged time on page. This highlights how many quality pageviews actually taking place.
We’ve talked in-depth before about why advertisers are interested in engaged visitors and why ad auction prices directly relate to website engagement before, but the actual behavior of the visitor plays a role in the on-page earnings as well.
Summing up past research and blogs on this topic:
- Visitor engagement is affecting the price website’s are paid for their ad placements
- Visitor behavior is directly influencing the amount website’s earn per session from visitors
What’s the difference? Website engagement refers to how a visitor engages with the content of a page. This has a direct relationship with advertiser metrics like CTR, viewability, campaign performance, and more.
The more engaged the visitor, the more beneficial that visitor is to advertisers and the more they are willing to pay to reach them. Advertisers bid these prices in digital auctions based on historical data for that site.
Visitor behavior refers to how a visitor acts once they are on the website; meaning, do they bounce, visit multiple pages, spend lots of time on the site, etc.
Looking closer at the chart above, we can clearly see that getting visitors to engage beyond that first and second pageview offers major revenue potential (session earnings are nearly 3-6x higher).
Looking beyond pageviews, we’ve recently done some studies on engagement time and SEO. We’ve continued to learn that it’s not just the pageviews that matter in the grand scheme of things. Engagement time is not only valuable on its own for ad revenue, but also for organic traffic.
Engagement is a factor of relevance for search engines like Google. It tells them that a searcher is satisfied with the content they are getting. That’s talked about a lot here.
Ultimately, website engagement is really critical to long-term ad rates, overall revenue, and organic web traffic. It would probably be really beneficial to increase it, right?
Let’s dig into how that can be done.
Who’s engaging with your website content?
One of the best ways to start influencing website engagement is to better understand engagement time on your website as it stands today.
There are a couple of core metrics you should understand your audience to improve the engagement rate on both your existing and new content.
- Engagement time
- Engaged pageviews per visit
- Engagement rate
(All can be calculated and found on your website inside Ezoic’s free Big Data Analytics)
Use these engagement measurements to better understand your sites content, pages, and structure. Here are some examples of how to do this.
1.) Word count and website engagement.
We showed previously how much this can vary from site to site. Word count plays a critical role in how much visitors are engaging in your site.
Do longer articles produce more engaged visitors or do they overwhelm them and cause them to leave early?
It is different on every website, but this is very important to understand.
In this example (chart above), we can see that the 1,000-2,500 word articles are the sweet spot for engagement.
The site shown has 213 articles that are 750-1000 words long. They could theoretically double the website engagement of those pages by augmenting the content to lengthen the articles with relevant material.
Takeaway: See how word count is affecting page engagement time. Explore how you might be able to alter word count in existing articles to improve this. Then, use this data to shape new articles and content that you produce to optimize for the best engagement time.
2.) How deep are visitors scrolling?
Another interesting way to look at website engagement is to understand scrolling behavior.
How deep do visitors need to scroll to reach peak engagement time?
Imagine if you learned that users that scrolled more than 25% down the page engaged 4x as much on the website?
Wouldn’t you want to try to do things that influenced users to scroll further down the page? Knowing about that 25% breaking point for engagement on your website could be really helpful in understanding exactly where you needed to engage users the most to impact total engagement.
How do you impact scroll depth?
- Break up early paragraphs into 1-3 short sentences
- Break up content with more images / charts / infographics
- Use more <H> tags and <strong> tags
- Use bullets to summarize points
- Create more sections inside of the article (headings that highlight specific portions of information)
HINT: I wrote this blog using some of these tips
Note: If there is a lot of 0-10% scroll percentage views on your site, there are likely low-quality pageviews being generated. Be sure to check navigation bounces and slowest pages to ensure that slow-loading or deceiving navigation isn’t creating a problem)
Takeaway: Understanding how scroll percentage affects engagement time on your site can give you a powerful weapon in helping you engage readers. Use some of the tips above to keep visitors scrolling. The key is breaking up the content with digestible pieces of information/media.
3.) Do videos help or hurt website engagement when embedded in content?
Do landing pages that contain videos within your content improve website engagement or hurt it?
I’ve seen it do both … to websites that were very similar. It really is going to depend on your audience.
You may want to embed videos on a number of articles/pages with similar word counts and measure them vs. an equal number of pages without an embedded video with the same word counts.
See which ones perform better, and compare the articles with videos to the previous time periods (when they didn’t have videos embedded). You should be able to get a pretty clear picture of which ones your visitors prefer.
In Big Data Analytics you can do this by sorting landing pages by engagement time (CONTENT > LANDING PAGE > Segment by Engagement Time).
Just grab some similar landing pages and look at them with and without video.
4.) Who’s more engaged — new visitors or return visitors?
This data is a little less directly actionable than some of the others but it is fascinating information to dig into.
It can be a lot of fun to see what types of users are actually the most engaged in your content. Is it the new visitors, the loyal visitors, the not-so-frequent-visitors, or someone else?
Big Data Analytics Report: Go to BEHAVIOR > RETURN VISITOR FREQUENCY > Sort the column of info in the table by engagement time and engagement rate to get insights on both.
The actions you could take based on this information will really vary depending on the content your site displays.
For example: You may manage a technology news website and learn that your new visitors are actually more engaged (more engagement time, more engaged pageviews per visit) than your loyal visitors. This may mean that you need to look closer at the types of content that you create. Is it more tailored towards first-time visitors? Is this the site’s intention?
Takeaway: Find out more about your audience. Understand what types of visitors are most engaged in your content. Use this information to ask yourself questions about whether or not this makes sense and if there are positive changes that could be made with this knowledge.
5.) Pick something that you think is important to website engagement and measure it
Ever wonder if people copying and pasting things from your site was indicative of a good experience on your site? Do you think that matters? Look into it.
Are the people that share your content on social media the ones that are most engaged? If so, how can you encourage more shares — or visa versa — how do you engage users more to increase shares?
Maybe that’s something you can learn by looking at your pages with the most shares per visit. What can you steal from those pages to improve sharing on other pages?
Or, what about looking at Visit Depth? Would it be helpful for your site to know how many pages your most engaged visitors read?
Do the most engaged visitors on your site only visit 1 or 2 pages? Or, do they visit 5-6 pages on average?
Understand website engagement by learning from your visitors
Use data from your visitors to help you draw insights into how they engage with your site and it’s content.
Leverage objective engagement data to augment existing content to increase revenue, improve SEO, and make your visitors happy. Do this by learning from top performing pages.
Use this data to guide new content creation (an example could be: all articles should exceed 750 words).
This information is invaluable to publishers who understand that their relationship with visitors is paramount to their continued success. And frankly, this is the easiest, most accurate, and scalable way to measure and understand that relationship.
Thoughts, ideas? Leave them below. Most threads build up lots of good questions and answers, so check the comments for additional info.
Tyler is an award-winning digital marketer, SEO veteran, successful start-up founder, and well-known publishing industry speaker. Tyler also serves as the host of Pubtelligence, a publishers-only event hosted at Google offices around the globe. Tyler describes his core competency as learning. He has composed content for some of the world’s top publications and has over a decade of experience building businesses in the digital space. Tyler is currently the Head of Marketing at Ezoic and serves as an SEO and marketing expert for start-up competitions across the U.S.