For bloggers and social media marketers, the desire to increase numbers of unique visitors to a site often overshadows an effort to increase the average number of pageviews per visitor. For those who are getting a high percentage of visitors via social media sites, convincing visitors to view multiple pages is sometimes seen as a lost cause. In reality, the blogger and the designer do have some influence on visitors in terms of encouraging extended visits, and even a small increase in average pageviews per visitor can result in significant gains in overall pageviews.
There have been several guides written in the past on the subject of increasing or maximizing pageviews, of course some are better than others. Some of the advice given falls into the category of tricks that can hurt the usability of the site and have adverse effects in the long run. For example, using partial feeds is sometimes recommended so that more subscribers will click through since they can’t read the content without doing so. Also, splitting up posts onto multiple pages is another tactic that’s sometimes used. Methods like these are those that I personally stay away from (although splitting posts onto multiple pages can be justified in some situations).
My approach to increasing pageviews per visitor is to try to give them a reason to continue on the site rather than by using a gimmick. Helpful sites will experience happy visitors that stick around, and that will produce better long-term results, in my opinion.
When I redesigned my primary blog, Vandelay Design, several months ago, one of my primary goals was to increase the average number of pageviews by putting more useful information within easy reaching distance of subscribers and first-time visitors alike. My average pageview stats on the blog have never been anything too get excited about, in part because many visitors come from social media sites, but I wanted to see a noticeable improvement. Starting almost immediately after the redesign, and continuing now for several months, the average number of pageviews has increased by about 0.5 pages per visitors. That’s certainly not drastic improvement, but it does result in more than 100,000 extra pageviews per month with the same number of visitors.
Take a moment to do some math. A website/blog that draws 25,000 visitors per month with an average of 1.5 pageviews per visitor will have 37,500 pageviews. If you were to experience a 25% increase in number of visitors still with 1.5 pageviews per visitor, you would have 46,875 pageviews. However, by increasing the average to 2 pageviews per visitor you could reach 50,000 pageviews without even gaining a single extra visitor.
Websites and blogs that naturally generate more pageviews (as opposed to using tricks) will generally be more useful and more user-friendly. Focusing on these issues will help to build loyalty from visitors and they’ll be more likely to come back when they need something specific, because they’ll know where to find it.
Challenges for Increasing Pageviews for Bloggers:
All website owners face challenges when attempting to improve the average number of pageviews. Bloggers face some of the typical challenges along with others that are unique to blogging.
Believe it or not, building loyal readers can sometimes decrease the number of pages those visitors see per visit. Some loyal readers will read everything you publish. In this case, it’s likely that they’ll see one page before leaving to go somewhere else. If they’ve already read your old posts it’s possible that they stop by each day just to see a new post and never browse through the archives or follow internal links.
Although these readers may just visit one page before leaving, that certainly doesn’t mean that loyal readers are bad for a blog. Not even close. However, if you do have a lot of visitors that come back each time you post something new, be aware that this does present some challenges.
Social Media Visitors
Most items that get significant traffic from social media are blogs of one kind or another. Social Media visitors are well-known for their short attention span and their quick trigger to leave a site. Encouraging more pageviews for Diggers or Stumblers certainly is possible, but it is also a challenge.
Many bloggers use a lot of outbound links, and it’s a good practice, especially for new bloggers looking to get noticed, but it also leads some visitors away from you blog, never to return. While outgoing links aren’t something that you should avoid, you need to also realize the impact that they can have in terms of losing visitors and you should have some efforts in place to keep visitors that don’t want to click on outbound links, rather than just losing them too.
Tips for Improving Pageviews:
Use Internal Links Within Posts
Sidebars are often used for a bulk of the navigation of a blog. Unfortunately, many visitors don’t pay much attention to sidebars, and subscribers who are just reading a feed won’t even see them. By using links within you posts in appropriate places you can get those links in the eyes of more readers/visitors and place them in a way that will use the context to encourage click-throughs.
Link to Related Posts at the End of a Post
There are a lot of related post plugins that you can use if you want to automate this, but I personally prefer including some manually created links to posts that I want to highlight. I do this a lot on my primary blog, with good results, but it’s something I need to do more of here at Traffikd. By creating the links manually you can have more control over which links are included (some plugins aren’t very accurate) and you can usually make the links more noticeable to readers, as many tend to ignore lists or related posts.
Make Sidebars as Useful as Possible
While many visitors will ignore sidebars, some will pay attention to them, and for this reason it’s an important part of the blog design/theme. Focus on providing links to content that will attract visitors, rather than just placing a list of categories or archives by date. I like to use a popular post section, but I’m bad at updating the list when new posts become popular.
Keep Pages Loading Quickly
If a blog’s pages load very slowly, visitors will eventually stop visiting more pages, sometimes sooner rather than later. A blog that has quick-loading pages is a pleasure to browse and it encourages more clicks.
Make Use of Pages, Not Just Posts
The most visited page/post on this blog is the list of social media websites (although it does need to be updated). It’s easy to focus on creating new posts and forget about the opportunity to set up pages that are more timeless. Think of some ways that you can extend your blog by using pages. A good example is Creating a Blog from Scratch at Blog Design Blog. Vinh uses a page to link to several related posts on a common topic, and it serves as a landing page that can funnel traffic to other parts of the blog.
Cover Related Topics
If you write series of posts or just write on related topics you’ll have more opportunities to use internal links to point to older posts.
Improve Old Posts
Many bloggers, myself included, tend to overlook opportunities to improve old posts. If you have posts that draw decent amounts of search engine traffic, go back to those posts and look for places where you can link to other posts and pages on your blog. These could be newer posts that didn’t exist when the original post was published, but they may be very relevant and helpful for visitors.
Focus on Being Useful
In general, make an effort to give readers a positive experience and you should see improvements in pageviews. Often the focus goes to creating new content and we overlook how visitors are able to interact with the site, and its general usability. Focus on making a great overall blog and the results will come.
What’s Your Experience?
This post does cover some things that I’ve learned through my blogging experience, but it’s also a list of things I need to work on myself. What have you experienced to impact the number of pages that your visitors view?
For more on growing a blog, see: