There are many SEO rules that need to be obeyed if you are looking to improve your search rankings but there is only one real SEO rule that matters and that is that you have to keep people on your blog as long as possible.
Here is the thing!
You can SEO optimize your content to the hilt but if you can’t keep people on your blog, if you can’t keep your readers reading your content then ultimately you are not going to rank well.
Let’s say that you write a post and it ranks based on your past performance with Google. You manage to get a page one result.
It’s quite a long-form post so quite wordy but for some reason, people who land on your page tend o to not stick around for too long and they bounce out after 10-20 seconds.
Your competitions content is shorter and so not as in-depth as yours but they somehow manage to keep people on their blog longer than you keep readers on yours and as a result, you start to drop down the rankings.
You see Google takes the average time spent on a page as a huge ranking signal. They see it as if someone is willing to spend time reading to the end then there is something valuable on that page.
If visitors are just bouncing out then there is a problem somewhere.
Your content doesn’t answer the search users intent or it is just poor quality in someway
So the BIG QUESTION is?
How do you keep people on your blog longer?
Before we answer the big question let’s make it clear what the problem is not.
If readers are not sticking around on your pages it is not because your articles are too long. You often see bloggers saying keep posts short because readers have a short attention span?
Well they may have a short attention span but if you offer then short-form content and it takes them 20 seconds to skim the page or even read it because let’s face it many visitors will just skim the page to see if they like what they see then even if they do like it and read to the end then you are still looking at a very short average time on page.
If your content is long-form and we know already that Google loves good quality long-form content, 2000 words plus then, IF you can keep them there then you will have a much better average time on page stat.
Yes, they probably have a short attention span but you still have to provide long-form content to keep them on your blog or they do leave quicker.
So here is how you keep people on your blog for longer
It is all to do with your page layout.
Long-form content or even short-form content if displayed as just text can appear wordy.
If your visitor arrived on your page as the result of a Google search then they are looking for information on a subject. You need to give them clues that they can see instantly that prompts them to keep reading.
As we already said they are more than likely skimming your page. So all text needs to be sectioned off into paragraphs with heading and sub-titles.
Headings and sub-titles are SEO ranking factors and help to break up the long wordy text and provide key points as to what is coming up.
Good keyword research will provide you with the headings and phrases that you need to grab the visitors attention. There are the words that tend to be skimmed so make then bigger than the main text, bolder so that they stand out.
Use lots of page breaks and space between sentences to make your content easy to read.
Have you heard of Block Quotes?
Block Quotes, put simply are a method of highlighting sections of content.
I use them occasionally especially when I add any kind of quote to an article (now isn’t that strange 😉
But I also find them visually appealing within an article and a great way to break up content.
Here is an example!
Check This Out 😉
You can also implement “Block Quotes” as a means to make content stand out as well as bullet points.
You can add Block Quotes by simply using HTML code either side of the content that you want to quote.
So for example <blockquote> your content </blockquote>
Or if your have a Block Quote option on your sites visual editor you can just highlight the content and then click the Block Quote option.
Look: Bucket Brigades
Add in “Bucket Brigades” these are bridging lines and phrases that lead readers on to continue reading.
Your notice as you read this Pac article that I have used a few of these bridging phrases to lead the reader forward.
They are designed just to keep you reading.
And the rule with using them is that they work best when they introduce something that is useful to the reader or in some way let the reader know that you are answering the question and that they should keep going.
They are key to increasing blog engagement because they keep readers on your blog longer which often leads to more blog engagement, comments, shares and even backlinks to your content.
Credit to my discovering Bucket Brigages goes to Brian Dean at BackLinko who wrote this great article on the subject SEO Copywriting: 17 Powerful Secrets (Updated for 2018)
How to write great blog posts that engage readers – My 7 step CHECKLIST
Here are just 7 quick blogging methods that will help keep your readers engaged for longer.
1/ Use headlines and sub-headlines to break up long paragraphs of text.
They help those skimming your pages to remain engaged, keeping them on your page for as long as possible. Headlines are also one of the many SEO ranking factors.
2/Bucket Brigades like ” Look:”, So here is the answer” and ” So the big question is” are also a great blogging tool to keep people on your blog longer.
Just like headlines, they will guide those visitors who are skimming your content onto the next section.
Just make sure that where you lead them has something that helps answer the users intent for being on your page. You have to deliver to keep them engaged with your blog.
3/ Lots of images are also great dividers for wordy text. They add a very cool visual element that will lead to increased content engagement if they deliver.
It’s always a good idea to add images that are specifically designed to be Pinterest user-friendly.
If you then provide the relevant sharing options you will see a big increase in content engagement.
Getting social shares is a great way to leverage your reader’s social media audience.
Your content suddenly becomes visible to an audience that it otherwise would not have.
4/ Block Quotes are also a great way to break up long-form content and help increase content engagement.
You have seen me use them quite a bit in this article
5/ Use negative space between sentences. Create bite-size sections on text that are easy to read and digest.
Make sure that you always refer to how the mobile version of your site looks
6/ Add in social share options as dividers. These work particularly well with Twitter
Here is an example below!:Are you wondering how you can keep your readers on your blog for longer? Here are 6 ways to keep your audience on your blog engaged and interested!
7/ Implement a good internal linking strategy.
If your readers are going to bounce out then offer them the opportunity to click-through to another of your articles that you consider may also answer the users search intent.
Be sure to link to your best articles as doing so is very good for your on-page SEO strategy
Keep people on your blog in 2018 – Takeaways
Yes, I agree that your visitors have a short attention span when it comes to reading blogs.
I am no different. But providing them with short-form content to keep them engaged is not the answer
All you are doing is helping them leave quicker.
The solution is to write long-form content and then just to break the content up and keep it interesting and compelling to read.
I have given you just 7 ways to target your audience by giving them an engaging and interesting blog.
The bottom line is that you have to keep your readers on your pages for as long as possible.