To Scroll or Not to Scroll… THAT is the Question!
I’ve talked to a lot of clients and the majority of them always want a short home page. We’ve made websites this way for years. There have been a few that have gone the other way and instead had longer home pages and I’ve learned some interesting things.
Bounce Rates and Time on Site are Important
Your bounce rate matters. If your home page is short and people see it and leave, then your bounce rate goes up. If there isn’t much content on your home page and people are clicking right away to get into your website, then they’re leaving the home page (and going into your website).
If you’re Google, you want to send people to pages (and sites) that people spend more time on. That’s an indicator (a bigger one than I thought) for ranking higher. Also, most people create links to their home page, right? It only makes sense that your home page should be a page that people spend time on. If you do that, it all just… works.
“Think Like Google”
I love that phrase. Google is a business. They want to show the best search results. If they don’t do that, then people trust them less and eventually go elsewhere. If you want to be the top result, you have to put yourself in Google’s shoes.
We know that Google likes when people spend more time on a page. They can tell this with Google Analytics installed on your website or when someone does a search, goes to a website and then comes back to their search results to try another website. Bing has it, too. It’s called “dwell time” and it’s very important to your rankings.
Dwell Time and Why it’s SO Important
Here’s an easy way to explain what dwell time is… say you do a search for “leather dog collars” in a search engine. You go to the first result, check it out and find out that it’s not what you’re looking for. You then go back to the search results page and choose another result. It’s what you want, so you stay there.
In that example, the search engine knows what you searched on, saw that you went to the first result and then saw that you came back in a few seconds (they timed it) and then chose another result. Where they timed it, that’s dwell time on the first website. You bounced off of it and didn’t stay long at all. That short amount of time goes into that website’s “profile” with the search engine and they might start ranking that website lower with that search if other people do the same thing.
Here’s some more:
Dwell Time: The Most Important Metric You’re Not Measuring (www.wordstream.com)
Simply put, dwell time is the actual length of time that a visitor spends on a page before returning to the SERPs. In theory, the longer the dwell time the better, as this indicates that the visitor has consumed most (if not all) of the content on a page before either returning to the SERPs or performing another action on the site.
Obviously, a visit with a duration of six seconds is an actual bounce. The visitor arrived, decided almost immediately that the page or content wasn’t what they were looking for, and bounced away. However, a visit during which the user arrives and spends almost half an hour reading an engaging piece of long-form content before leaving is not an actual bounce. This is why some pages that rank highly and have excellent content may seem to have high bounce rates. They don’t have high actual bounce rates, but high standard bounce rates.
They’re saying that when someone spends a lot of time on a page, the dwell time goes up. One way to think about it is that a bounce is very low dwell time (the lowest) and it’s not good for your website while real dwell time (when someone stays on the page) is good for your website’s rankings.
Another resource says:
Understanding the Impact of Dwell Time on SEO (searchenginejournal.com)
Dwell time is a metric that calculates user engagement, session duration, and SERP CTRs. It is a data point that is not publicly available (or thoroughly understood), but is nonetheless a factor that affects a site’s search engine results.
Dwell time, then, is a combination of two components, with one related component.
– Session duration
– Bounce rate
– Click-through rate (CTR) on the search engine results page (SERP)
Generally speaking here is a breakdown of the good, fair, and poor ranges for bounce rate.
0-40% bounce rate: Good
40-60% bounce rate: Fair
60-100% bounce rate: Poor
Just to refresh you, SERP = “search engine results page(s)” and CTR = “click through rate.”
The article above is really good because they show you where in Google Analytics to check for session duration (dwell time) and where to check in Google Webmaster Tools (my favorite tool) for click through rate.
Make People Stay Longer and Get Higher Rankings
There are a few, good ways to make people stay longer. Doing these things will increase the amount of time they spend on your home page and bring down your bounce rate:
First, add more content. Add content that you know your website visitor are looking for. Go for longer scrolling instead of less scrolling. People are using tablets and phones now that make it easier to scroll. I even think it’s easier to scroll on devices like that versus using a desktop computer. It’s also sometimes not as easy to click on links with mobile devices. Because of these factors, it’s just more user friendly to make websites the scroll more and have more information on one page.
Second, consider adding a video to your home page. If you add a video that’s about a minute long and 1/3rd of your visitors stop and watch it, the time spent on the page will go up and up. This is why YouTube is so popular – people are stopping there and watching videos. When one video is done, try to bring another one up right away and they might stay even longer. Use catchy (compelling) titles for them and make the content interesting.
Third, on inside pages (pages other than the home page), make your articles longer. Shoot for 1000 word articles (this one is just over 1400 words). Really work on them and develop them. Add images, use bullet points and headings. Really craft your articles so that they’re just not good ones but awesome.
Fourth, at the end of the article, list other articles on your website that they might like. Make sure they have compelling headlines. This will keep people on your website longer, too.
Fifth, remember to use the right keywords. This means you should make sure that the keywords you’re targeting match the content on your page. If it doesn’t match up, people will leave your website.
Sixth, your website must have good design and be responsive so that it shows up well and can be used well on all devices. This contributes to the user experience, which is king!
Seventh, make sure your website loads quickly. To do this, use caching tools and get fast hosting. The big trend right now in website hosting is hosting with SSD (solid state drives). It’s hard drives with no moving parts – basically, really large thumb drives. They’re super fast. In a year or two, all website hosting will be SSD but if you want an advantage over your competition, get it now at A2 Hosting. I’m not kidding.
This isn’t 2009 anymore – you can’t just post wimpy content and expect results. Most small business owners are simply not used to publishing content because they have a business to run that’s not in line with that. Make sure you’re hiring either employees to run and manage your website content and social media or else hire a partner that can help you set up a schedule and manage it for you.
Sure, it was nice when you only had to think about your Yellow Pages ad once a year and your marketing was done. Today, that simply won’t fly because you have to compete in the marketplace and do as more or more than what your competition is doing.
Craft content that’s awesome content and experiment with a longer home page that keeps people there. Try using video to make people stay on your website longer, too. Using these strategies, you could see your rankings rise dramatically.