Everyone seems to be talking about how to design for search these days. But have you thought about how to design for users who have already found your website? (That can actually contribute to better search rankings, too.)
A 2017 ranking factors analysis showed that three of the top five ranking factors were related to keeping users on your website longer – time on site, page views and bounce rate. The other factors in the top five were direct web visits and number of referring domains.
This leads to the question: How do you design for multiple page views?
Encouraging users to visit multiple pages within the design will keep them on the website longer, increasing time on site and the number of page views while decreasing the bounce rate. It can be a simple solution that helps improve multiple ranking factors that will encourage search engines to rank your website higher.
Create great content
Nothing will keep users clicking like great content. Including a mix of blog posts and guest posts, videos, great images and graphics are easy ways to engage users.
Content should be relevant to the main goal and messaging of the website design. You shouldn’t just allow anything to appear on your website because people might click it. Create content that is interesting and relevant by thinking about how to inform or entertain users.
Make this content easy to find with strong navigation that gets users where they want to be in a hurry. This includes main navigation elements – generally across the top of the screen on all pages – and secondary navigation elements from this content to other related bits of content. Suggesting another story that a user might like can keep the clicks coming!
Link between pages in your website
While a lot of SEO experts tell you to focus on backlinks and links to your website from other reputable sources, you should think about links within your website design as well. (And this is something you can easily manage and control.)
Include links to your content and resources on every page, particularly blog posts. Each blog post, which should be 300 words or more as a best practice, should include two to five links to other sources. Half of those links should be internal.
It’s an easy way to get users to go to another page of your website, and counts as an extra page view. Consider the tail this content strategy has as well: If every page includes links to other pages within your site, users could theoretically keep clicking indefinitely.
Split long-scrolling pages into multiple pages
While long-scrolling content can be engaging in itself – and contribute to increased time on site – these pages can be intimidating for some users. Consider splitting pages with a lot of content into multiple pages to keep users clicking.
Splitting long blocks of content can improve the user experience in a few ways:
- It makes content easier to locate and search for
- It can minimize scrolling
- It makes the most of on-site linking, which teaches users to keep moving through your design
Be aware that splitting up content too much can have an unintended, negative effect. Each page should still contain “quality” content that can stand alone after the page is broken up. If not, don’t split the content between pages.
One topic per page
While we’re on the topic of how to break up content, here’s an easy answer to what should be on one page of content? One topic per page.
Each individual page of content should contain one topic or complete thought about something. When you shift thinking to something else, link to another page and put that content there.
If each page has a focused direction or point, there’s a clear starting and stopping point for you and users. It creates a sense of organization in the design and makes the words and images easier to digest because everything on that page is related to a single idea.
An overly busy website design can be overwhelming for users and actually cause them to leave your website, thus increasing your bounce rate. (The lower the bounce rate, the better.)
While it is OK to have additional elements and entry points in the design, you don’t need to clutter it with too many flashy elements. Pick one or two “distracting” elements to use with content and strip unnecessary elements out.
These elements include sidebars packed with ads (one ad per page is enough), feeds from a calendar or blog, social icons or share buttons and other calls to action, such as email newsletter signups. Try to keep these elements to a minimum.
If you need all of them – really, do you? – place distracting elements below content rather than next to it. This can help minimize the overall busy-ness of the design.
Design engaging CTAs for your content
Save your boldest design elements for calls to action that entice users to keep clicking. Whether the CTA is embedded in content, a pop-up, hero image or promo on another website or social media, use a great headline, stellar imagery and fun color to grab user attention and encourage clicks.
While most creative teams think about calls to action for shopping or forms, a great CTA can also link to content. Use the same philosophy for both types of CTAs to design consistent experiences and help users move from page to page in the design.
Use landing pages
Email and share links that tease and preview great content should encourage clicks to other pages. One of the easiest ways to do this is with landing pages as an entry point for users.
Think about the places and ways that you ask users to visit your site. You are teasing a certain bit of information or a product. But when a user clicks the link, is the homepage what they see? It should be a page that contains content directly related to the element clicked.
Then that content should link to other parts of the website.
You’ve gotten a user to your website with something that interests them; now provide additional information to keep them engaged.
Encouraging users to visit multiple pages on your website is a great way to increase your overall credibility and show strength in content, design and function. These are all things that will help you rate better with search engines. (And we all know that rating better with search engines can make your website easier to find.)
It doesn’t take a full website overhaul to start implementing these concepts. Start with crosslinking quality content across your website as you develop an overall creative strategy moving forward.