Persuade Readers to Stay Longer Without Locking Them Up

by Martin Malden

Bear with me while I set the background…

A little over a year ago I wrote an article setting out how to install and manage widgets on WordPress.

Two weeks later, WordPress released version 2.8 which completely invalidated my article because they changed the way widgets were managed.

So I wrote an article on widgets in 2.8, put a link to it from the first article, and didn’t think any more of it.

Then, about 3 months ago, I noticed that traffic to the original article suddenly started picking up. Having virtually ignored it for nearly a year, Google suddenly seemed to think this was the solution to people’s search queries on widgets in WordPress.

Heaven knows why it took them a year to figure that out – and then get it wrong..!

Despite the link that I’d put to the second article, however, nobody was clicking through.

This worried me. My visitors were not getting the information they needed and they were leaving the site with a negative impression.

So I went back to the original article and updated it with a paragraph right at the beginning, headed ‘Important Update’.

I referred to the change in the way widgets were managed in 2.8 and gave them a prominent link to the later article.

Still Google kept sending visitors to the original article, and still no one was clicking through to the later article.

So I expanded my ‘Important Update’ paragraph to say that widgets are managed the same way in WordPress 2.9 and 3.0 as they are in 2.8, so if they were using 2.8 or later they really should click through.

That did it. Now almost everyone that Google sends to the original article clicks through to the later article.

On the surface, then, I’m now getting double the page views per visitor to the original article – and since Google is currently sending quite a few visitors to the original article that’s good news.

But the real results go beyond that. Many of the people who read the second article stick around and explore further.

So people who previously would have landed on the original article and immediately left with a negative impression of the site, are now getting what they came for, staying, and reading at least 2 pages, sometimes more.

Very satisfactory.

And the message?

If you write ‘how to’ type articles, or articles where things change, it would be well worth reviewing them to see whether they’re still current.

If not, write a second article and place a very prominent explanation at the beginning of the original article as to why your visitors should click through to the new one.

And keep working on your ‘click through’ message until you can see in the stats that it’s working.

Here’s how I did it in my original widgets article.

The benefits are many:

  1. You’re giving your visitors current information
  2. You’re keeping visitors on your site for longer
  3. Visitors see that you’re concerned they get the right information and so start to trust you
  4. You can capture and maximise traffic that the search engines may be sending to outdated articles

Cheers,

Martin Malden

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