Ive just recently made a few small changes on one of my sites and increased my average time on site from around 2 minutes to 8 minutes+ per visitor.
With such positive results, I wanted to share the few small changes that I made that have obviously had a pretty big impact.
By no means are these "anything new" or "special", theres no secrets here - just common sense.
With the right tweaks on your own site, you too can probably improve your average time onsite, reduce bounce rate and hopefully, increase conversions as well.
Heres what I did.
1. Added Images - I know this might sound obvious, but it must have made *some* difference. Basically all I did was add stock images to each article, typically under each sub-heading. Often I made the images funny. Instead of those tired, boring and now somewhat cliche images that you often see on so many sites, I used funny images, and images that related to the subject manner.
In essence, I kept it light hearted, even for a serious subject. The big bonus I found was that by adding images, my articles *appeared* longer. That is, I could take a 800 word article, add 3 images, and it would look visually much, much longer. This might help for those with shorter articles (say, around 500 words or so) It also helped to "break up the content". Theres nothing more boring than reading huge blocks of text, and while I always try to break up my content to make it more manageable, the images definitely helped to do this as well.
2. Related articles - At the end of each article I list 4 related articles. Ive always done this on my sites, but this time, I made it more prominent. You cant miss it, its directly under the article - so as soon as they finish reading one article, theres 4 more to read, that are closely related. This is a great incentive to keep them onsite.
3. I shoved my face in there - I dont know about you guys, but I at least like to know what the person looks like that wrote the article. Or at the very least, be able to put a face to the work. It seems to give me a sense of "trust". So I did this on my own site. I have my name, and a short bio of myself. Oh yeah, and of course a mug shot
4. Social widgets - This really should be a no brainer. Everyone knows that social media is the way forward. Its great for sharing content, as well as generating traffic. At both the top of my article, I have social widgets (facebook, twitter, digg, stumbleupon, google+) etc etc etc, that users can use to share the content. I also have the same buttons at the very END of the article as well (near my author bio) - and so far I *think* Im seeing more users share my articles. For those that dont have them onsite - get them on there FAST. And put them both at the top of the article AND the bottom. It not only adds a bit of colour to the page - but I think it helps build a bit of credibility too. Especially if you have your own social page.
5. Diversified my content - This is something Im yet to do, but will do so over the weekend. I recall once, James Schramko said that search engines seem to favour sites that are content rich. So as an example, instead of having one page with just flat text, (in say, an article) - provide that same article in a PDF format, or an MP3 download. Try to implement images, spreadsheets, documents, vidoes and audio. All of these things can help attract more users and increase both time onsite as well as sharing. Im pretty excited to go about converting my articles to MP3, then providing a download link on the page. Should be lots of fun!
6. Oh I almost forgot - I also implemented sub headings in bold spread throughout my content. This I feel, helps break the content up visually and allows the user to jump straight to the information they want. Its also great for SEO, too (H2, H3) Again, I used humour where possible to keep my subheadings interesting.
Anyway, theres a few pointers of what Ive done so far, and point 5 being of course what Im about to do. All of these changes have made a dramatic difference to my visitors engagement time and reduced my bounce rate.
Any questions please ask.