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Increase Visitor Engagement with these 4 Steps

Welcome to the struggle of visitor engagement

It is something all new site owners have had to learn soon after launching a site. All that effort on making the site look the way you wanted, but nothing seems to be happening. Most people do not realise that the internet has reached such a size that your site is one of tens of millions of websites floating out there.

Getting people onto your site and more importantly getting site visitors to engage with your site, in a way that benefits you, is becoming more of a challenge for new site owners. That engagement can come in many forms and what’s important is to understand what you gain from those engagements. If you run an e-commerce website, an encouraging engagement would be someone making a purchase. If you are running a cooking blog having someone comment on your post shows that people are reading and thinking about your work. It is this type of engagement that will make a success of your site.

I have answered countless questions at Penseth and outside from people wanting to know how to make their site work for them. With that in the back of my mind, I decided to put together a post with some simple ways you can increase visitor engagement. It is not just my recommendations. I have done the research to see what others are saying and why they are making these recommendations. Links to these articles are throughout; I encourage you to go ahead and check out those links to increase your understanding and further develop your website.

Content is Key – It is a mantra every site owner should know

Content is Key, haven’t heard it? Then you have probably just started your website journey. It is something every designer, developer, marketer, and social media user learns and learns early. Creating good, engaging content of quality is crucial to building a reputation as a valuable site for people to visit. When visitors know they can rely on your site for quality content, it increases the chance they come back for more. Marieke over at Yoast goes into some detail on why quality content is important in her post Importance of Quality Content.

Creating good content starts with your planning. Putting considerable thought into your site layout and content requirements early on will help later. Adding new content to your site is also good practice to keep people coming back. One way to add new content to your site and maintain the high quality is through the creation of a blog.

With a blog, you can regularly post new content on your website. The type of content you post should be related to your site theme. Take this post as an example. It is on the Penseth site, a website that sells web hosting services for site owners. It is helping website owners manage the early stages of the site and develop it for the future. The theme of this post is complimentary to the overall purpose of the site. To engage and encourage new web hosting customers.

Including a blog does not require a serious amount of additional work to setup either. If you are using WordPress for your website, blogging features are there and ready with posts. Other CMS like Joomla can create blogs too. Check out this detailed guide on How to Create a blog using Joomla. There are also third party sites where you can create a blog and use links to connect your blog and website. Free to start services include WordPress.com, Medium and Tumblr.

If you decide to integrate a blog into your website, It is vital that you continue to update it with new content. Setting out a posting plan and sticking to it will help with this and the Hubspot Content Marketing Plan is an excellent tool for those just starting with this. Update your site with quality content for search engine optimisation or SEO. A core component of a search engines ranking is sites that have regularly updated and quality content. Having this on your website will put you in the best possible position to increase engagement with your site and also start your site SEO programme. If you have a marketing or promotional strategy for your site, then it should also include Content Marketing. Tom over at Varn gives another good breakdown of Why Content Marketing is Important.

Did you see that comment they left?

It is one of the clearest visible signs that people are seeing your content, thinking about it, and engaging with it! When someone posts a comment on your article, it means he or she have read what you have written, given it some thought and finally felt confident and welcomed enough to contribute to the discussion. Comments can be used to measure the accuracy of your articles, the quality of your cooking recipe, or the public reaction to your match last Sunday. It opens a connection between you and your visitors and enables you as a site owner to gain valuable insight into the audience your site is attracting.wordpress-maintenance-mission-control

 

The majority of comments on your site will be positive or constructive. However, with such an open forum, you may also find a few that are neither flattering or encouraging for your site, brand or business. NEVER be put off by poor comments on your site. If they are negative, it can be productive to engage with the criticism or negative publicity in a constructive way to learn the lessons. You should also consider replying to detailed comments, whether good or bad, as a way to show your visitors that you value their comments as well. That means more than just a ‘Thank You’ message. You should actively engage with the subject of their post to show your appreciation for the time they spent on your site.

I mentioned the importance of a blog above, and adding comments to your blog is a natural combination for boosting visitor engagement. It gives a lot of fresh and potentially opinionated content for your visitors to digest. Adding comments to a blog should not be difficult at all. If you have used any of the blog platforms mentioned above, comments should be included and active from the beginning. For the more technical savvy, you could even code your comments using PHP and JavaScript.

Allowing comments on your website is an easy way to provide a route for visitor engagement on your site. Its sole purpose is to provide a space for visitors to engage with your content and provide feedback or additions that can all be used to enhance your site. Something to be mindful of if you do store any visitor data from comments, a privacy policy is required for the usage of private data on your site visitors.

There is a form for that…

What was once a problem is now a convenience few good sites can avoid. Contact forms, submission forms or sign-up forms, there’s a lot of different types of forms you can add to your website. All of them serve a single unified purpose, to allow visitor engagement in productive ways.

Two of the most common types of a form you will see on websites is the contact form and the sign-up form. Both ask for similar information from the visitor, but both are for different purposes. A contact form is frequently used to support or engage with the visitor. Sign-up forms are commonly used to gather e-mail addresses for future e-mail marketing campaigns. How you use forms on your website is down to your aims and objectives. They can be used to support marketing efforts, gather customer feedback and reviews, or become part of digitising your back-office work. It is essential to do some planning before you jump into form creation. It can save you much more time feeling around forms later when you already have a solid idea what you want to achieve with them.

For a visitor, forms on your website are an indicator that someone, somewhere, is monitoring the site and likely to reply to any submission. Integrating forms onto your site can be done in many ways. Whether you are using a CMS like WordPress or have a custom-built HTML/CSS/JavaScript site, you can start adding forms with third-party services. There has been an open market for website forms integration for several years now. Both Google and Microsoft offer online forms and you can try other dedicated providers like WooFuu or JotForm. All of these services provide easy to create forms, with customisable styles, free starter plans, and they show you how to embed forms onto your website.

I absolutely have to quickly show you this post!

Social Media… I wanted that to hover in your mind for a moment. Who does not know the importance of social media for any online presence these days? Campaigners, marketers, business owners, social climbers, and just people wanting to keep up. We all use it more and more, and it is always finding new ways to dominate our lives. Twitter and the micro-blog, Facebook and the status updates, Instagram and images, WhatsApp and messaging. So, the only question is how social media can help your website?

The answer is not by putting a link to your profile. Although, maybe a little bit. Yes putting a link to your website on your social profile will increase visitors coming to your site. However, it will not be by the numbers you hope, or with the outcomes you want. You have an aim for the people coming to your site, and that is to engage with it. Sharing your quality content from the blog (see above) on social media helps you build a following there and also increase visitor engagement with your website. Take a blog post and share the link over a couple of weeks, on different days, and at different times. Do this with multiple blog posts or other content, and you will soon have a buzzing social media feed of likes, shares, retweets, and yes, website visitors.wordpress-visitor-engagment-comments-feedback-group

With the buzz of social media and loyal followers who enjoy and connect with your social media and blog content, you will see visitor engagement increase and more of the people your targeting, find and visit your site. Social Media is not an overnight process and buying followers or likes for ‘credibility’ does little to improve your site reputation. It may even damage it if people find the numbers unusual. However, with dedication, time, and effort the benefits from social media could be significant for both your website and your aims.

Measuring the Success of your efforts.

Going to all this effort to improve your website engagement will not achieve much if you do not have a way to assess the impact of the work you are putting in. Setting out reasonable targets at the start, monitoring those, and reviewing the progress will help in developing your website and its readership. There are many ways to track and measure visitor statistics, Google Analytics and Piwik are two of the more common site tracking platforms, and there are more.

To Conclude,

There are many different ways to increase visitor engagement with your website, more than I could mention here. However, I have put down some simple methods that can work great for new site owners. Importantly, every method mentioned here can start with no cost. There will be limitations to what you can achieve yourself, that is normal. Seeking out help, reviewing others efforts, and being willing to change things if they are not working will all be beneficial to increasing that visitor engagement.

Monitoring your progress against your target and aims is always useful for reminding yourself why you are doing what you are. Whether it has the impact you had intended is a common question you should keep coming back to as you review the progress of your work. If you would like to suggest some other ways of increasing visitor engagement, I would love to hear about them in the comments section below.

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