To keep your readers engaged for longer, get serious about writing and managing related content.

by Nick Usborne on April 13, 2011

Before I talk about the subject of writing and managing related content, I first need to make one point by way of preparation.

Don’t create dead-end pages.

I have written about this before. To put it simply, it makes no sense to write a great page of content, and then fail to provide links to other articles on your site at the end of the page.

Some webmasters might say, “Hey, if they liked the article, they’ll scroll back up the page and use the navigation to find more content. To which I reply, “In your dreams!”

If you want readers to stay on your site, or blog, you need to keep them moving forward in a straight line. Provide links forward at the end of every page of content you write.

Which brings us to the subject of related content.

If you visit a few news sites during the course of the day, you will find that many of them have links to related articles at the end of each page.

For larger media sites, these lists of “Related articles…” are created automatically, using software services that match articles through their keywords or tags, and/or according to their popularity. The managers and writers of smaller sites may create these lists manually.

Either way, it’s a smart thing to do.

Each time you add a list of four of five related articles at the end of a page, a certain percentage of readers will click through and keep reading.

The key here is not to create a list of random articles, but related articles. The more closely related they are, the higher the chance that your readers will want to keep reading.

Creating and managing related pages should be part of your content strategy.

If it is true that readers are more likely to stay on your site and keep reading if they are given easy access to related content – and I believe it is true – then you should have a strategy in place that ensures the creation of content in bundles of related pages.

First, identify the topic areas that are most popular with your readers.

Second, deliberately create and bundle related content within groups and sub-groups.

Third, add links to related content at the end of each page.

Then track the links which are clicked on most often, and bring those best performing pages to the top of each group or sub-group.

You might think this is done on every site. But it isn’t. Content creation if often influenced more by things like keyword selection, product sale cycles, and other factors.

So if you want to give your site a competitive advantage, and engage your readers more deeply, get strategic about creating and linking to content groups which are deliberately written to be “related”.

..

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Davidson Yeager April 16, 2011 at 9:40 am

Great! I’ve always included “in context” links to relevant pages on my site — in order to help my readers.
But I’ll think about how to implement a small listing at the bottom of the page.
Did I understand the article?

Jim Lawrence April 19, 2011 at 12:54 pm

Nick,

Vindication is a great thing! Your piece about dead-end pages hit home with me. For a number of years, I worked as a web software tester, and was constantly bugging developers to include adequate navigation on the application pages. Their responses were always the same — “they can scroll up to the top of the page” or “why would they want to go there?” I could never get through to them. While the purpose of our application was to manage scheduling, training, and data retention functions, and not to sell, it’s still nice to know that my instincts about adequate page navigation seemed to be correct. Thanks.

Paula Bright April 24, 2011 at 3:57 pm

I’m wondering if it would work to put the same category link and a related category link down there, and invite them to check out other titles.

I don’t have a ton of content yet, though I’m working hard on that. What do you think, Nick?

Previous post:

Next post: