Web usage is a habitual thing – generally, we have a list of commonly visited sites and favourites, only adding new places to surf if they pass a stringent set of personal rules and reasons. The main reasons for internet browsing are (in no statistical order):
- Communication – email, Skype, live chat, whatever.
- Shopping or researching a product for purchase.
- Networking – Facebook, Twitter, forums etc.
- Information retrieval – be it looking up a location on a map, reading a newspaper online, finding facts for a project or googling your own name… (go on, you’re doing it right now, aren’t you?)
- Amusement and entertainment – think boxing kittens on YouTube, blogs, watching TV you’ve missed on iPlayer etc.
- Work – natch.
(For those of you wondering, yes, I did consider adding porn to the list, but I don’t think it is especially relevant in this article, do you? Feel free to visualise its addition if you must.)
A gazillion sites fall into those categories, and your business presumably does too – possibly more than one – but what makes a user revisit a site multiple times?
Well, fulfilling their needs with the least amount of effort is surely up there. If you host an ecommerce site, providing products at a competitive price, with fast and reasonable shipping and great customer service ticks all the boxes… but, there will always be others to rival you, offering all the same goodies. One of Amazon’s successes, aside from all the above, is its wealth of information, reviews, wishlists and massive range of products, always handily suggesting things that you’re just gonna LOVE judging by what you’ve just been looking at… They do all the work for you (even down to one-click purchasing – yikes what a dangerous invention!), like your own personal superstore.
Going above and beyond what you should do makes us all warm and fuzzy – honestly worthwhile special offers, discounts and loyalty schemes give an incentive for people to keep using your site, and little extras or charity affiliations will buy you some love and affection. Similarly, showing a little intriguing kookiness, amusement and personality turns you into a company that is different from the rest, a company that visitors will remember for its quirks.
Creating a brand that people want to be part of is a difficult challenge, but people will associate themselves with things they like and respect and admire, no matter what it is. We all strive to become part of a likeminded community, whether it’s comprised of lovers of coffee, Star Trek or rare twelve spotted ladybirds. Find something to unite your customers, make a place for them to interact or provide something that they can claim as their own and they will stick to you like glue.
Show some authority. Of course, being first on SERPs is gonna get you some traffic, but you also need accreditation from other areas to prove that you are the best at what you do. Linking, reviews, complimentary comments, press and awards all should be used to boost your rankings and encourage trust in your audience. Don’t be modest, shout about your achievements, and explain what makes you so wonderful.
Connect with your customers. Being part of social media networks can be a big asset to gaining support and loyalty from your clients as it enables you to interact on a personal basis, answer questions and queries and be witty and charming in a way sometimes not possible on a website. It also is a powerful platform for word of mouth recommendation – we all like to have a good moan if we’ve suffered bad service, and will rave about a great offer or product, wanting to help out our friends who might be interested in the same thing.
Yes, SEO is important, yes, ranking is essential, but you can drive traffic into your site as much as you like – they still won’t stay if you’re not giving them those magic qualities that make your site revisitable. Think about engaging content, aesthetic design, usability, effective networking, honesty and trust and personality and you’ll be well on your way to someone’s favourite list.