SEO, content, attracting web traffic, and keeping it

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SEO aside, there are many ways in which you can improve your chances of drawing in web visitors, and avoiding bounces. Some might even involve dogs doing funny things. 

It’s one of the Big Questions that we get asked a lot here at Smoking Gun HQ. What are the best ways of boosting traffic to a website?
Needless to say, in the wake of Mobilegeddon, as featured in our last newsletter, having a responsive, mobile-friendly domain is now essential. As  is ensuring a website’s static content is up to scratch in terms of SEO. But there’s obviously far more to the equation than that.
Regularly updated pages make a huge difference- Google’s spiders are forced to re-assess and re-rank your website each time an update occurs. Hence blogs being so popular for businesses.
Simply having people hit your URL isn’t enough, though. Realistically, you want them to stick around for as long as possible. Single-page visits- wherein people land on your website and then leave without interacting with the domain- are considered ‘bounces’ by Google, the higher your bounce rate, the worse off you will be.
This means that whilst you may be producing content people want to click on from a Google search, without a lovely clear design, and inviting, easy-to-navigate panels, not to mention plenty of prompts to get involved, they are unlikely to do much after their first sight, other than make a quick exit.
There is, of course, another, perhaps less cynical reason for maintaining a good quality blog, one that goes beyond simply drawing in visitors like bees to honey. By positioning yourself as a market leader, or at least a source of reliable information and comment relating to a specific industry, you will in turn receive word-of-mouth recommendations from peers, advising others to check out www.yourwebsite.com, because it’s often the home of interesting blog posts.
This is where you need to really think about the nature, structure and format of your blog.
Journalism.co.uk ran an interesting piece on a similar theme, albeit within the context of journalism (obviously), and the amount of time readers spend on news pages. The longer people spend on an editorial page online, the higher the ad value could be for the overall publication, and the more reassuring it is for the writers that they are doing a good job (not to mention their bosses, who will constantly be assessing performance).
It’s a world away from blogging for business, but nevertheless the fundamentals apply across the board. How news websites try to keep readers on their pages comes down to a mixture of media and approach, and when people stay on a web page longer it usually means they find the content informative, educational, interesting or simply entertaining; the same criteria a private company would have in terms of trying project itself as a defining voice in a sector.
The survey of editors and news professionals revealed the following are key factors in maintaining people’s attention:
*Multimedia
This blog post, for example, doesn’t have much by way of multimedia content. That’s partly because a video showing you what makes a good blog post would probably be rather boring, and might even make you leave the page after realising we were going to show you a video about what makes a good blog post. But if that video were, say, Dogs Who Fail At Being Dogs, it might make you stick around…

…Not that we’re suggesting you should just post a random video of K9s doing funny things. Hopefully you get the point, though.
*Subheadings
See that word, subheadings? Well, that is indeed a subheading in itself, and serves to break up what would otherwise be a rather lengthy page of text, making it easier for people to quickly scan for the bits of content they are going to find the most useful.
*Personality
Maybe you don’t like the tone of voice we use for the Smoking Gun PR blog. We certainly hope you do. Either way, we have a tone of voice, and like to break down the anonymity of online writing, meaning over time you’ll get to know what we like (videos of dogs), what we don’t like (PR fails), and the fact we are fantastically approachable, down-to-Earth people. This increases the chance of us forming an ongoing reader-blogger relationship.
*Internal links
It’s vitally important for posts to make it as easy as possible for people to click through to other areas of a website. Perhaps that could be a homepage link, like that one, or links to previous stories, such as those included in paragraph two at the top of this page.