Semrush conducted a ranking factor 2.0 research study to find out which factors are the most critical in Google’s algorithm. Not surprisingly, time-on-site was the second factor in terms of importance after direct site visits. Therefore, keyword density or keyword-in-title are less relevant factors than time-on-site.
The billion-dollar question is how to convince people to stay on your site longer. Scientists proved that humans tend to lose focus in just a few seconds, so it’s a near-impossible mission to capture their attention.
Altogether, people love reading, as Evan Williams, Twitter co-founder and Medium founder, once said. Users will spend a lot of time on your site if you provide what they need. The ball is in your court, and you have to satisfy their needs. It’s not a simple mission, but it’s crystal clear that you need to take action and improve the time spent on your site by your readers.
I have compiled a list of tips to improve this ranking factor significantly. Apply them to your site, and it will certainly have a better Google ranking in a few months.
Check Your Current Stats
You can’t improve your time-on-site factor without knowing the current situation. Head to Google Analytics > Audience > Overview and check the Average Session Duration. This value is the starting point of your strategy to improve the time spent on your site.
If you want granular control, go to Benchmarking > Devices, and you will find the Average Session Duration for each device.
Relevant and Quality Content
Relevant and quality content is a crucial element for any site. Relevant and quality content means that readers found the information they needed and like your presentation style.
Write titles that are in line with your content, and avoid clickbait titles and headlines. Do a complete keyword search before crafting content, and find out the pain points of your readers. Your content must resolve their problems. In this way, you will create relevant content.
Quality content is a more subjective concept, but generally speaking, it must be thoughtful, digestible, and complete. Neil Patel said that you should write a post like ‘101 Ways to Generate More Revenue’ if the best article on the internet is ‘51 Ways to Generate More Revenue’. In plain English, when you publish a post on a particular topic, it must be the best on the web.
Legible, Readable, Comprehensive
Legibility, readability, and comprehensibility are the technical aspects of your content. The Nielsen Norman Group experts believe that improving them will make your site’s copy better. Good copy convinces people to spend more time reading your work.
Legibility refers to the clarity of characters and other visual items. Use a large font size—don’t be afraid of using 16 px, and make sure that the colors used to contrast the background. Additionally, narrow columns will improve your site’s legibility.
Readability refers to the complexity of words and sentence structure. Don’t use the passive voice but strive for short sentences made up of simple words. Hemingway App or Readable.io are my favorite tools to test the readability of a text.
Comprehensibility refers to the degree to which a user understands the text’s meaning. Be brief, concise, and use specific vocabulary when needed. Videos, images, and infographics make content more comprehensible and attractive.
If you write 1,500+ fluffy words, don’t expect to grow the time on site. However, if your write insightful articles that are around 1,500+ words, users will spend considerably more time reading the posts. Aim to cover a topic fully regardless the number of words. Write complete articles, and these will most likely be 1,500+ words. Don’t take 1,500+ words as a fixed milestone; it’s just the lowest word count of the long-post format.
If you want your visitors to stay on your site for longer, you have to provide them with reasons to do so. Internal links work miracles because they help both search engine spiders and readers. Put yourself in the shoes of a reader who has additional and useful information available at the click of a button. They will appreciate that you have delivered a complete solution to their problems. As a result, satisfied readers will spend more time reading your content.
Improving your time-on-site factor isn’t about the best-performing content only. The design of a site is also quite important. Reducing the clutter is the sure way to make readers enjoy their visit to your site. A design audit is a mandatory first step to convince people to stay on your site longer. It should contain precise solutions to the following questions:
- Does the site have enough white space?
‘Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away’, said Antoine de Saint-Exupery. Bear this theory in mind when designing your site’s layout and don’t be afraid of white space. Less is more in this case!
- Is there a clear hierarchy?
A clear hierarchy helps readers understand what the most important part of a site is. It’s unanimously accepted that users often quickly scan a site, and a clear hierarchy makes it more scannable. Not only using headings is an SEO measure, but it also creates a hierarchy that helps readers better skim the post.
- Is the navigation helpful?
Complex e-commerce sites are the most affected by poor navigation. A user that isn’t satisfied with the menu will instantly leave your site. The output: a reduced time-on-site factor and sales that aren’t closed.
Special Care for Mobile Users
Most sites are responsive, but responsiveness alone isn’t enough to entice people to pay a longer visit to your site. Design a layout that is user-friendly, unobtrusive, and straightforward.
Test to see if your WordPress theme is rendered properly on all possible devices. The number of mobile users is still growing, and the signs are that this trend will continue.
A clutter-free design has the biggest chance of being liked by mobile users, so revisit the previous paragraph.
Sidebars may help you improve your time-on-site factor by featuring your best articles, guides, or other interesting internal resources. Your site visitors could get hooked by these links and will check them out. More page views, more time on site, stronger engagement—it’s all you’ve dreamt of! It’s simple and effective, so leverage the power of sidebars.
Time-on-site will be a hot topic in the near future. Do everything you can to convince people to remain longer on your site. These tips are tested, and there is no doubt that visitors will spend more time on your site if you implement them.
Do you have another secret suggestion to improve the time-on-site factor? Please leave a comment and share your thoughts on this topic.