How to Make Your Site Sticky

Why do some websites attract more visitors and keep them coming back again and again? It’s something called the sticky factor and there are some things that any website owner can do to make their site one that visitors want to hang out on.

Give Your Visitors Something to Do

Probably one of the best ways to get visitors to come to your site and stay there is to offer things for them to do that keeps them engaged. Social networking has become more and more popular as people learn new ways to connect online. One of the most popular social networking sites out there is Facebook. The reason for Facebook’s popularity is complex, but consider the things you do in a typical day at Facebook.  You can see what friends are up to, share photos and updates with others, play games, view videos, get coupons, see ads and on and on. While most websites don’t want to take on the complexity of Facebook, think about things you can add that might keep visitors on your page or encourage them to return:

  • Forums
  • Contests
  • Games
  • Polls
  • Daily updates (jokes, quotes, interviews, etc.)

Give ‘Em What They Expect

If your website is about turtles, then focus on all aspects of turtles. Interview a veterinarian about common turtle illnesses, add articles about different types of turtles, sell turtle supplies, or offer a game about turtles. However, don’t include things that are completely unrelated to your topic just to try to up your traffic. If you hear that a topic such as Angelina Jolie is trending on Google and Angelina doesn’t own a turtle, then you shouldn’t throw in an article that has nothing to do with turtles. The people who visit your site want to know about turtles and want to know that they can trust you to give them info and features related to turtles.

Turtles.net is an excellent example of a site with a focus. They offer info on turtles, a turtle webcam, turtle forums and turtle videos. What is your site’s focus? Does your visitor trust you to keep that focus?

Site Load Times

You can spend untold hours figuring out how to get visitors to your website, but if it doesn’t load quickly, they won’t wait around. Today’s person is used to a fast pace and doesn’t have time to wait for graphics to load. Dial-up, for the most part, is on its way out. Check the load time of your website at http://www.iwebtool.com/speed_test. As a general rule of thumb, your site should load within .30 seconds or less. Any longer and you risk losing your visitors or shortening the amount of time they stay on your site. Although it can be exciting to add features like flash, videos, and graphics, limiting these things will help your site load faster. You must achieve a balance between a visually appealing site and one that loads quickly. One example of a slow-loading website is WebOSNation.com. It takes an average of .73 seconds according to iWebTool’s speed test. On the other hand, Google loads in about .17 seconds on average.

What is bogging your site down? Are there features that take a long time to load? Imagine if your site is slow to load on high-speed Internet, what it might be like for a user on dial-up.

Dig deeper: How to speed up your site

Newsletters and Subscriptions

One of the best ways to get visitors to return to your site again and again is to offer an online newsletter or other subscription service. Once you capture the visitor’s e-mail and have him opt in on your mailing list, you can remind him about new features you’ve created, special sales or other events. There are many free or inexpensive newsletter services you can use, which are discussed in the article “What a Newsletter Can Do for Your Site (and Free Software to Get Started).”

However, you need to do more than just off a newsletter to create that “sticky” factor. The newsletter or other subscription-based item you are offering must offer value to your target audience. If we go back to the example of a website about turtles, you might offer a free turtle-care guide that you send out once a month. You could also offer free videos or webinars instead.

Fresh Content

When it comes to websites, content truly is king. No matter what type of website you run, adding free and useful information for your visitors will keep them at your site reading. As an added bonus, a particularly useful resource will be shared by your visitors with their family, friends and on social networking sites. This will increase your traffic and multiply the sticker factor. As new people come to visit, they too will see the value of your site and bookmark it.

Groupon.com is an excellent example of providing regular, fresh content that is of value to visitors. Groupon offers discounts for local retailers, but has deals all around the country. When you visit Groupon, you choose a large city nearest to your location. Groupon then updates almost daily with new deals. If you sign up for their mailing list, they will also e-mail you deals. This is brilliant stickiness on the part of Groupon, because those e-mails are often forwarded to family and friends who might also be interested in a given deal.

Dig deeper: How popular websites are using high posting frequencies to succeed

Make it Easy to Visit Your Site

If the goal of a sticky site it to have visitors return time and time again, then make it easy for them to remember where your site is. Here are some tips for making it easy to visit your site:

  • Add a link so they can bookmark with a single click
  • Have a Facebook and Twitter presence
  • Consider new and growing social networking sites like Pinterest
  • Add a link to your site in e-mails you sent out, so subscribers can simply click and visit
  • Choose a domain that is easy to remember

On that last point, you likely already have a domain name for your site. If your domain name is long-winded, such as http://AllAboutTurtles-BecauseILoveThem.com, visitors are not likely to remember that name. However, short and simple names are typically already taken. You can try to purchase one of those names or you can come up with something related. If your domain is already in place, simply park the easier domain on top and use it in advertising. There is a site that pokes fun at this concept. It is http://www.llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwyll-llantysiliogogogoch.com. Now, that is a hard domain name to remember!

You should also try to avoid dashes or words that are difficult to translate in speech, such as when you are doing a radio interview and want to share your domain. Avoid words with multiple spellings like to/two/too or here/hear.

If you start with these few sweet points, your domain will be sticky in no time. There are additional elements you can add over time that will keep visitors returning, but always keep things simple, make sure your site loads quickly, ensure things are easy to find and provide as much value as possible. If you focus on those concepts, your site will be a success.

Dig deeper: 77 ways to drive traffic to your website.