If you are a publisher, brand, or a content creator looking to improve user experience, I’m pretty sure you fire up your website analytics every once in a while and methodically go over data. And while you look over the metrics, one particular deserves special attention: average time spent on page.
Why? Because, along with the bounce rate, it provides insight into how well your content is actually performing – you know, if anyone is actually reading it.
Here’s an example: you have a regular blog post (just like this one) that has an average time on page of 20-30 seconds. In the case of this particular blog post you are reading (hopefully), you can check on the audio player roughly how much time it takes to go through it. So, if you’re seeing such low average times, even if the bounce rate isn’t high, it’s worth to note that either your visitors aren’t reading your blog post or they are some serious speed readers.
If you don’t generate enough interest, you’re leaving money on the table – plain and simple. While there are numerous reasons why people leave a website, there are also numerous things you can do to increase engagement and keep your audience longer on your site. First, let’s cover the must-dos like…
Speed up your website performance
Slow loading performance is probably the worst thing that can happen to your website. If you think that sounds like an exaggeration, think again: Google will actually penalize you if your site takes a few seconds longer to load. Literally every second counts.
There are a couple of things you can do. First, test your website’s loading speed through Google’s own tools: Page Speed Insights and Test My Site to see how the search engine sees your site’s performance. If you want to dig deep and do more, check this link for some effective techniques in improving page loading speed.
Keep it clean
Google also says that even if your website is perceived as slow, it “may still rank highly if it has great, relevant content”. But, you have to keep it clean. Clean refers to a number of things. For instance, it can be too many links that confuse people and take away from your content. It can be too many ads that disrupt the user experience or any other element that’s diverting your visitors’ attention spans and driving them to click away to something more user-friendly.
Clean also refers to formatting, like the amount of white space that makes the existing text easier to read. Sometimes, it’s not easy to scan everything and absorb, which is how skimming often starts. Make your content visually appealing to make it easier to read and digest.
Now, here’s where things get amusing and where the inside stuff comes out.
Add an audio experience
I’m sure your first thought is why audio. Today, audio is used as a primary channel and as a complementary medium to written and/or visual communication thanks to increasing smart speaker use and better digital connectivity (e.g. in vehicles). It has effectively transformed how people consume content due to its personal and convenient nature. So adding it to your repertoire means meeting the needs of a growing audience of listeners.
The first step is to convert articles to audio by transforming text into lifelike speech. That audio player I talked about at the beginning (and that you may be listening to this article from in the case you’ve decided to opt for that experience)? That’s the end product and a simple one at that. As you can see, it blends well with the rest of our site. It only takes seconds to convert text to audio. With only a few clicks, you can customize it to natively align with your overall site’s look and feel without any disruption.
The penetration of audio content is growing year over year and is now entering the mainstream sphere. By adding an audio element to your arsenal of content, you are doing two things: increasing onsite engagement by at least 5x, and doing what your audience has already immersed itself with.
Leverage contech for further engagement
Adding an audio version of your content is only one step on the path to improved user experience. Contech or content technology is another layer in a largely visual environment, one that will complement the listening experience and add more value. I’ve been babbling on Quora about this (and some other things) numerous times, but I stand by it: contech platforms will assume bigger roles to increase engagement.
The main aspect will be content aggregation and recommendation, where an embedded unit will increase engagement on top trending and related content based on continuous learning of listeners’/readers’ behavior. As a result, they will spend more time on site, exploring more content to enjoy while browsing. Contech is developing rapidly, adding on what voice technology is doing so I expect to see a growth in the use of voice and text to speech technology as it catches on.
Finally, pay attention to readability
I’m saying this for two reasons. The first one should be fairly obvious as it increases the level of ease to understand your content. By improving your content readability, you affect your visitors’ behavior on the site and improve their page on time.
The second reason is the link to voice search. People are increasingly using it all the time so Google and other search engines are becoming more and more focused on voice. That means long paragraphs and difficult words will affect your position in search results. Because voice search is getting bigger, it’s important to write understandable and readable content for higher ranking. With readability, it’s two birds with one stone. There’s a test I’m ambiguous about but worth mentioning – it’s called the Flesch Kincaid readability test and it basically tests the reading ease of your content – if it can be generally understood to a 12-15 year old – you’re good. I’m ambiguous because I doubt it’s accuracy but I think it’s a good benchmark.
Technology, particularly the voice part of it, is the answer to many questions, including the one of improved user experience. There are still various kinks in the road that need be navigated around but voice technology, especially it’s text to speech section, is still at its relative beginning.
The Internet is a largely visual place, replete with different types of images, gifs, videos, and ultimately – text. The fact that the human ear has become both tolerant and comfortable to “mechanical” voices speaks volumes (pun intended). It’s a testament to both how much voice technology has advanced and how important audio has become in content consumption. And we are just seeing the start of it.