Stickiness – How to Make a Website Sticky

A sticky website is one where a visitor arrives and finds it difficult to leave. This is of vital importance to the success of your online business. There is no point in bringing visitors to your site if they instantly leave.

Besides getting traffic to your site, you need to know how to keep your visitors there and how to make them return for more. These two concepts are closely related. The more time people spend on your site the more likely they are to become repeat visitors and to earn you money.

How Long are Visitors Staying

With Google Analytics set up for your site you can see detailed statistics on how long visitors are staying at your site. From the Analytics website click to view the report for your site. Then navigate to Audience→Overview and display the Average Time on Site graph. This graph will show you how your site’s stickiness has changed over time and if you are heading in the right direction.

Average time on site example
Example of a Time on Site trend.

Another interesting metric related to stickiness is the bounce rate graph, which you can also find under the Audience→Overview page. The bounce rate is the percentage of visitors who leave your site after only a single page view. The average bounce rate is around 50%. Anything more than that and you may need to work on improving your site’s stickiness. The Pages/Visit graph is also of interest. The more pages your visitors view, the more stickiness your site has.

How to Keep Visitors at your Site Longer

Making a site sticky involves several aspects, many of which have already been discussed. In short, the main key is to consistently offer a large amount of easily accessible high quality value that is relevant to your visitor’s interests within your site’s niche. If you can do this, your visitors will keep coming back to you again and again and will stay long. Value here represents either content, products, services or a combination of these three elements. In addition to having value, your site as a whole needs to be likable. It needs to have a high quality design, fast page load time, easy navigation and be validated to provide a pleasant user experience.

Hook the Visitor

From the Audience→Behaviour→Engagement page you can see how long visitors stay on your site on average. You may find that a large percentage of your visitors are only staying 0-10 seconds. These visitors did not reach the hook point, where they decide to stay rather than go somewhere else.

The first thing the visitors see when they arrive at your site needs to hook them so that they will not instantly leave the site. They need to know immediately that they have arrived at the right page – at a page providing them with what they are looking for, whether it is information, entertainment, products or services. The content needs to be focused and interesting enough to maintain their attention long enough for them to reach this point.

For a text Content page, the first thing the visitor should see is the headline. This is the piece of text that, if interesting enough, will get the visitor to read the first sentence. The first sentence will get them to read the first paragraph, which will get them to read the rest of the content. Once they have read the page, if they are sufficiently hooked, they may explore other related pages on your site. The final step is when the visitor becomes a return visitor or loyal customer. Anywhere along the way, you can lose the visitor if you bore them with something other than what they want.

Linking Structure

A key concept in making a site sticky is to create a dense link structure throughout your site. Each page is another way to keep visitors staying longer on your site. Going beyond easy navigation menus, you want to give visitors many ways to explore the other parts of your site. If a visitor traverses your site only to find more and more interesting content, they are more likely to become a return visitor of your site. The most clicked on links on a page are those placed within the content. Therefore, it is a good idea to include content links whenever appropriate to other related pages within your site.

Additional relevant links can be placed so they are clearly visible just below the content, so that once the visitor has finished reading the current page they will be exposed to even more interesting content. This can draw their attention to other content that is similar to what attracted them in the first place and get them to explore more than one page.

Yet Another Related Posts – This WP plug-in allows you to display a list of pages contextually related to the current page.

Sequential Pages

Going one step further than including links to related content, you can organize your Content pages into series of related pages that can be traversed like chapters in a book. For such a series, be sure to include next/previous navigation links back and forth within the series. Also add a chapter list or table of contents that tells the visitor where he is in the current series.

Highlight the best content your site has to offer by featuring a “Best of” or “Most viewed” section on your site. These links should be placed in a sidebar instead of in the content area, since they are not related to the current page.

WordPress Popular Posts – This plug-in displays the most popular posts on your site.

Other similar sidebar sections you may want to include are Recent posts and Recent comments.

In addition to positioning your links in places where they are more likely to be seen, there are a number of other ways to increase their click-through rate. The key is to attract the visitor’s attention and then to get them interested enough to click the link. A well thought out anchor text is a good start. This can be combined with an interesting image that you have associated with each page. The clickable image can be positioned to the left of the link in places where you have a bit more space, such as in the sidebar or after the content. A third technique to increase the click-through rate is to place a line or two of preview text under the link, ending with another link for reading the rest of the content.

An exceptionally good book on how to build passive income:
Timothy Ferriss - The 4-hour Workweek