Do Visitors Beg to Stay At Your Website?

Last weekend I took my kids to the most amazing playground for a few hours.  During our time there I saw the same scene played out over and over again:

        Adult: It’s time to go, let’s get our things together.

       Child: Nooooooooo!!!  Please let’s stay a little longer!

The details and amount of whining, as well as who won and what bribes it cost the parent, varied each time.

The children were so desperate to stay and play at the park that they resisted leaving, often with whining, begging, bargaining, or hiding.

Wouldn’t it be awesome if that’s how people felt about visiting your website?  Okay, maybe adults don’t generally beg (unless there’s excellent coffee involved) but work with me here.

It was probably the coolest playground my kids have been to yet.  I was surprised at the variety of play spaces and activities.  What did the park have going for it?

  • an amazing variety of playthings including boats, towers, slides, swings, monkey bars, bridges, and much more
  • it was beautifully decorated with paintings and carvings
  • there was plenty of seating for adults (or tired children) including picnic tables, covered areas, benches and a gorgeous view of the nearby lakes and mountains
  • separate play areas for small children and older children
  • well kept (I didn’t spot any litter or obvious graffiti issues, though kids had written a few things inside one of the play spaces)
  • close by bathrooms and water fountains

Applying it to Your Website or Blog

Think about the types of spaces you and your children visit that you just don’t want to leave.  You want to hang out and relax or play.

How can we turn our websites and blogs into that type of “playground” where people come and want to stay?

Make it Full of Amazing Spaces.  This park didn’t just put up a home swing set with a slide and two swings and expect a crowd of children.  We’ve got one of those in our backyard but my kids still beg to go to the big park.  They built an amazing space.  What can you offer on your website that’s just that good?

Make it Beautiful.  Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but get a second (and third and forth, you get the idea) opinion on your website.  The colors, the layout, all of it should work together to make it feel the mood you’re striving for.

Make it Welcoming.  Do visitors feel welcome in your space?  Do you invite them to read, learn, subscribe, comment, interact, and generally do things besides just buy things from you?

Make it Easy to Benefit From.  I love parks that have separate spaces for toddlers and older kids.  When mine were young it was difficult to take them to the park without older kids taking over and kicking them off the play equipment (speaking of, please don’t let people be bullies on your website!).  In a separate spaces layout, there’s a safe area for the littlest ones and a more challenging space for big kids.  Think of your website visitors–you’ve likely got some who are new to whatever it is you offer/do, and others who know more about it.  How can you make it easier for each to find what they need to learn/play comfortably?

Make it Clean.  A park full of litter isn’t somewhere I’d want to play.  If your website is littered with spam comments, hacker scripts, broken links, missing images or other icky things, you won’t get visitors to stick around.

Make it Convenient.  Bathrooms and water fountains nearby made it easy for families to stay and play longer.  No need to run home for a quick drink or bathroom emergency.  What can you do to make it easier for visitors to spend more time at your website and take specific actions easily?

See it in Action

These are the ideas I’ve been tossing around in my head this week as I worked.  Daily Blogging Ideas is in it’s 2nd week of life and this is Monday Morning Quarterback: Week 2.  I know I’m publishing this on a Tuesday.  Yesterday was our first full day back to homeschooling and it totally wiped me out.  So pretend you’re reading this on Monday, okay?  Next week I’ll get back on track.

My main goal this week (aside from continuing to add a blogging idea each day, of course) was to work on turning it into the “inspirational playground” I have in my mind.

Some of the main steps I took this past week…

I worked on graphics.  I was using a theme straight out of the box and it needed customized.  Like I said last week though, it’s better to GET IT DONE then to wait and GET IT PERFECT.  If you need to launch with a plain theme and work on it over time, don’t let that stop you.  Launch!  Then work on it.

I reworked the side bar to make it easier to tell where to go to find things and make blog ideas more easily findable by topic (using tags).  I tagged posts and then activated the Configurable Tag Cloud plugin to display them.

Tinkered with plugins and social sharing options.  Hooked up the Twitter account and Facebook fan page to get new content automatically.  Most of the changes aren’t too noticeable, but they’re working — page views are up and the bounce rate is down.

I took some time to consider who’d be coming to the site and think there’s two groups: bloggers who want ideas (divided into those who have writers block, and those who don’t but just want a fresh idea) and bloggers who want to be featured.  So to make it easier I’ve added two big graphics to the right sidebar: one to get featured, one to get ideas.

Wrote an opt-in page for the RSS feed because I want to focus on getting people to return to the site and let me into their inboxes.  It’s not perfect but it’s live:

Other things I’m working on include the freebie for RSS subscribers which I hope to have up tomorrow (and it’s cool cover art which is being completed by my awesome VA/graphics designer from Barham Virtual Assistance).  Next Monday I’ll show you how to setup a freebie to give to RSS subscribers.

So let’s talk numbers now.

  • Week two of August the site got 1,476 visits and 7,141 page views.
  • My Alexa ranking isn’t showing a 1 month average anymore, just 3 months, but that’s gone up this week from 1,064,788 to 566,325 and on the traffic rank graph it’s showing a few lines up into the top 100,000.  So that’s cool.
  • RSS subscribers through FeedBurner went from 39 last Monday to 62 this week.  If I hit 100 in the first month I’m going to celebrate and give away something cool.
  • Most of my traffic is coming from direct promotion on the social networks right now, mostly Facebook, followed by Twitter and LinkedIn.  A bit from the search engines and some from guest posts and blog comments I’ve started leaving with the URL.

And that’s where I’m at this week.

Spread the Love
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  1. Hi Michelle,

    Amazing spaces, that inspires me.

    What can we offer to make our blog a desired spot? Think about how you can thrill your readers. Up your Wow Factor. Provide value, but do it with a twist.

    The more amazing your blog the more people will want to stop by and stick around.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Ryan Biddulph recently posted… 3 Easy Ways to Drive Traffic to Your Home Based Business WebsiteMy Profile

    1. “Wow Factor” – great phrase, Ryan. That’s what we’ve got to capture/create.
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… 51 Ways to Explode Your Blog’s AwesomenessMy Profile

  2. I like how you relate everyday experiences to develop and make your blog even more effective. You provide not just unique and clever tips but also suggestions to make every blog a place where everyone can hang out and that’s really cool. Keep it up! Thanks!

    1. Thanks, Jane. Appreciate you stopping by and commenting. :)
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… 51 Ways to Explode Your Blog’s AwesomenessMy Profile

  3. You have me thinking my daughter told me to change my blog to something like word press so that I would have more freedom to change the layout. After reading your blog I realised why it would be beneficial to me.
    Vivian recently posted… The BluesMy Profile

    1. WordPress allows a lot more freedom in customizing the layout/style as well as adding additional features. I’m a big fan. :) There are some import options that allow you to transfer content from other blogging platforms — you might look at those if you decide to move.
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… How to Show Off Your Popular PostsMy Profile

  4. Great info, Michelle. I like the point about “making it clean.” Before i had my website redesigned, I didn’t realize that it was a bit too cluttered. There were too many places to look for information. Now my site is cleaner and it’s easier to navigate. It’s always good to take a close look at your website every six months or so to make sure it’s still something that people will want to visit again.
    Lisa Kanarek recently posted… How to save time by helping others be on timeMy Profile

    1. I love your website design, Lisa. It was very easy to navigate and find great info. Sometimes it takes another eye to spot the clutter–I’ve tried to make a point to ask people every so often what’s working for them and what’s not about my site and then tweak it as I go, like you suggest.

  5. Determining who stays on your site and does what is often the challenge. The more metrics you capture, the more likely you can guage how people are using your content and interacting with your site. Entranced / Exit pages provide some ideas.

    Design and user experience obviously play a major role, as does your content.

    2 months ago, I had a bounce rate of close to 80% because I had lost focus, and wasn’t concentrating on what brought people to my site. They quickly left. I’ve now lowered that to just over 20%. It’s still higher than I like but it’s a major improvement.
    Barry Wheeler recently posted… Online Reputation and its Real World ImplicationsMy Profile

    1. That’s a great bounce rate, Barry – you’re doing something right over there. :)

      Yes, tracking the metrics is key so we can see how changes are affecting where traffic’s going, what pages they’re leaving from, etc. Do you have a favorite tracking tool?

  6. I’m very appreciative when I found a good website and your blog is really a wonderful place to check every day. You have this knack for catching people’s attention in a good way. And your blogging advices are really good. Keep it up Michelle, looking forward for your new posts :)

    1. Thanks, Mika. I appreciate that. :)
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… Weekend Fun: Social Media Caffeine FixMy Profile

  7. I was hooked when I first read a few lines of your post. I must say you really know how to make your readers feel welcomed. Your tips are great, it takes a lot of effort for someone to actually let her readers stay and definitely beg for more. thanks for sharing one great post!

  8. HI Michelle,

    Your inspiration for this post, simply being started from just a day trip out is amazing. Great advice.


    Naomi recently posted… 7 Easy Ways to Think Creatively for Your BusinessMy Profile

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