The average time readers spend on your blog is one of the best indicators of the usefulness of your content.
The longer people stay on your site, reading your content and exploring blog archives, the higher your chances of converting them into subscribers and customers.
Average time on site is, of course, a key SEO metric as well, and one of the user experience factors Google uses to understand the quality and relevance of a piece of content.
In a detailed SEO study, which analysed more than 1 million Google search results, Brian Dean (Backlinko) found that the average time users spend on a site has a strong relationship with search engine ranking.
If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, you can check the average session time of your blog in your Google Analytics dashboard.
So, how exactly can you improve this metric and keep readers on your blog longer?
Here are 5 things that’ll make a difference right away.
1. Embed Videos In Your Blog Posts
Video is by far the most engaging form of online content and can help you keep visitors hooked to your blog much longer than usual.
The idea is simple.
Create a unique video related to your blog post (or find an existing one from someone else), upload it to YouTube, and embed it in your blog post.
This approach has a dual benefit.
Most people prefer watching a video instead of reading text content on a given topic. The time your blog visitors spend watching an embedded video contributes directly to your blog’s average time on site.
Secondly, content marketing expert Neil Patel found that Google indexes blog posts with embedded videos much more quickly than plain text posts.
When you upload your video to YouTube, also include a link in the video description pointing to the post on your blog where the video is embedded.
To embed a video in your post, you just need to copy/paste the video URL in the WordPress post editor.
This approach will get your content indexed quickly and keep readers on your blog much longer.
2. Optimize Your Website Design and Performance
The overall design and performance of your website has a huge impact on the average time on site metric.
If your blog has a crowded navigation bar and a right column littered with lots of advertisements, readers will find it difficult to focus on the actual content of your post.
This forces many of them to click the back button.
So make sure you’re using a clean design that gives center stage to your content and makes it easy to read.
Also ensure that your blog is mobile friendly because more than 50% of all search queries are now generated from mobile devices.
If your blog is not optimized for mobile visitors, a large chunk of your potential readers will bounce back, which will also negatively impact the average session time of your site.
And finally, make sure that your blog has a fast loading time.
Studies show that an average internet user 3 seconds before bouncing back. If your blog loads slowly, it’ll frustrate your readers and force them to go away. Thankfully, improving your blog’s page speed is not as difficult or as technical as it sounds.
3. Create External and Internal Links the Right Way
Creating internal links within an article to other related posts on your site is one of the best ways to keep readers engaged with your content.
Internal linking is not only important for improving your on-page SEO, but It’s also an effective way to keep your older content alive and in front of your readers.
Similarly, 1-2 relevant external links in every blog post to authority websites helps build your reputation in Google’s eyes.
However, make sure your external links open in a new window. Otherwise, they’ll take the readers away from your site.
You can do this in WordPress by checking the new tab option when creating a link.
You can also do this to your internal links so that the reader stays on the original blog post while reading the additional resources on your site.
4. Format Your Content for Quick and Easy Scanning
More than 2 million new blog posts are published every day and millions of other pieces of content are shared on social media. In short, an average internet user is bombarded with tons of content every single minute.
To stand any chance of gaining the attention of your readers, and retaining it, you need to make your content as easy to read as possible.
To do that, format your content in a way that makes it easy to scan.
Use short paragraphs (1-2 lines) and lots of sub-headings to organize different segments of your content. Also frequently use bold, italic, and underline to highlight the important parts of your posts.
Nothing turns off readers more than long sentences and paragraphs that look like walls of content.
Ideally, a reader should be able to quickly scan your posts, and immediately identify his interest areas.
5. Recommend Your Best Related Content
When someone visits your blog and reads a post, don’t let him go away so easily. Expose him to as much of your content as possible.
There are multiple ways to do that.
But displaying related posts in the side-bar or at the end of the post is one the most effective ways to keep readers on your site longer.
Neil Patel ran an experiment on one of his blogs and found that displaying related posts at the end of an article increased his average time on site by 14.7%.
That’s a significant increase for a very small change.
WordPress has thousands of free related post plugins that you can use to make this change.
Keeping readers on your blog longer is not only great for your search engine rankings but also helps you strengthen your relationship with the readers. The best way to achieve his is by providing lots of valuable content to your readers and optimizing your blog for a memorable user experience. The tips I’ve shared in this post will help you do just that.