Most people go to a lot of effort to make their homepage a welcoming entrance for first-time visitors. And that’s a good thing!
But in reality, many – if not most – of your first-time visitors will bypass your homepage and enter your website on an interior page via a link from another site or a search engine listing.
Did you even know your website had a back door?
When you consider every page on your website as an entrance, you start to view your pages differently. You begin to think of every page as a “homepage” which must entice the reader to stick around, read some content and, hopefully, click a link to explore your site a little further.
Here are seven tips to stop first-time visitors hitting the back button when they arrive at your site:
1. Answer first-timers’ questions immediately
A first-time visitor to your website will decide whether to stay or hit the back button after only a quick glance.
In that short time they have to decide:
- Am I in the right place?
- Does this page have the information I’m looking for?
- Should I bother reading more?
To prevent visitors from bailing immediately you have to answer their questions ASAP. The content at the top of the page – such as the page header, headline, first paragraph and image – must work together to communicate quickly and clearly what the page is about and why a visitor should keep reading.
2. Create an informative page header
The page header is an important signpost that helps visitors orient themselves on your website. It should include:
- Your company name and/or logo in the top left-hand corner
- A link to the home page from your company name/logo
- A brief and descriptive website tagline that explains what your site is about.
Avoid large header graphics as they reduce the usable space above the fold (see below).
3. Ensure global navigation is clear and intuitive
Global navigation is the menu appearing on every page of a site, usually under the page header and/or in the left-hand column. For visitors who arrive through a link and decide to continue browsing your site, clear, concise and intuitive navigation labels are a must. Don’t let your visitor get lost and wander off!
4. Create stand-alone pages
When a visitor arrives via a link they have very little context for your website. So make sure every page is self-explanatory and can be understood without having to read any other pages on your site. It’s OK to repeat some information found on other pages if it helps the reader understand the page.
And be sure to put a call to action with some links at the end of each page. Because every page must be a starting point for further exploration, not an endpoint.
5. Put important information above the fold
“Above the fold” refers to the portion of a web page a reader can see without scrolling. Readers will only scroll down if you’ve successfully captured their attention and aroused enough curiosity to read on.
So don’t bury your lede (the point).
Don’t make visitors read a load of background information before they get to the point. A good tactic is to write a summary of the page in the first paragraph – just like a newspaper article. And don’t forget to include your most compelling benefits.
With the increasing use of tablets – not to mention smart phones – the average size of computer monitors is now falling. Which means the space above the fold is decreasing. Use it wisely!
6. Link to related pages (on your site)
When someone arrives at your page from a search engine you know they’re interested in the page’s topic. So it makes sense to link to other relevant information on your website, such as other articles and products.
You can add a list of related links in a sidebar or at the end of the page. Your goal is to keep people on your site!
7. Use external links sparingly
Once you have visitors onto your website, you don’t want to send them straight off to somebody else’s page! Every time you include an external link in your content you risk visitors leaving your site, never to return. So think before you link.
When you implement these easy fixes (as well as offering valuable content that’s clearly written), your website bounce rate should reduce and the time your visitors hang around should increase.