Step Seven: Eliminate the Leaks
One big issue many websites have is leaks. These are the places where your potential clients leave your site, never to return. Maybe it’s the links to your social accounts, videos that recommend content other than yours, or even product recommendations you’re making in your blog.
While many of these things are necessary for business growth and better SEO, there are ways you can help ensure that offering your readers content outside your domain doesn’t lead them down a path they won’t return from.
Let’s start with social. You probably have a nifty little row of social media icons somewhere near the top of your website. Most sites have these, with the reasoning being that you want readers to know where you hang out, so they can join you. The problem is, this is a huge traffic leak! One “in the know” website recently termed these icons “candy-colored exit signs.” And that’s exactly what they are—an invitation to leave your site.
Here’s a better option: put your social media links in your footer. Readers will still find them, but they won’t be quite the compelling invitation they are when placed so prominently near the top of your site. Save that prime real estate for calls to action that benefit you, not Facebook.
Another very common link is YouTube videos. While embedding them on your site and in your blog posts is great for reader interaction (nearly everyone loves video) and to increase time on your site, they’re also leading readers away by promoting “related videos.”
You can easily turn this option off when you grab the embed code from YouTube, just by unchecking the box that says “Show suggested videos when the video finishes.” Make it a habit to do that whenever you showcase a YouTube video, and you’ll plug a very large leak that takes readers away from your site.
Finally, what about links to other websites? These are important for SEO, because Google and other search engines prefer to recommend sites that feature outbound links. It shows you are offering your readers the best information available, even if it’s not on your site.
The trouble is, clicking those links will take your reader off your page. The best way to fix this leak is to simply make all off-site links open in a new tab. That way your reader won’t lose her place on your site even if she does decide to check out that other resource you mentioned.