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Stickiness

When your site contains enough relevant content to attract high search engine rankings, your site will hopefully attract many visitors. However, it is also important to keep your visitors at your Web site when they arrive—and to keep them coming back.

Relevant content certainly helps to increase a site's stickiness, but there are also other ways to encourage visitors to return.

Regular special offers and opt-in newsletters are an easy way of increasing the likelihood that visitors will return to your site. Email newsletters sent out once per week or month remind your visitors of what your site offers them and reminds them to return. They are also a good way of informing visitors about features on your site that they might not have noticed on their initial visit and, of course, of informing them of products and services that they might want to buy.

Community-building features such as discussion groups, bulletin boards, and blogs help to increase the amount of relevant content while also encouraging visitors to feel part of the Web site and to keep coming back. Visitors post their comments, opinions, or questions on the site and return later to find the answers and responses from other members on the site. To encourage the growth of the community on your site, employ some excellent writers for the first month or so to post "seed" opinions and articles, and also to post responses to posts from your visitors.

Amazon.com was the first Web site to recognize the benefits of this sense of community when it allowed visitors to write their own book reviews and to rate one another's reviews.

Ensure that visitors have the option of being emailed when a response is posted to their comment, opinion, or question. This reminds the visitor to return to the site.

The other advantage of these community-building features is that you get the email addresses of your visitors, other identifying information about them, and also information about what they like or dislike and their issues and questions. This makes it easier to target products and services to them.

Because visitors must log in to post, you also have the possibility to personalize the site to their requirements. This could be perhaps simply putting their name into the page content, feeding to their pages the most relevant content to their needs, or allowing them to change colors, fonts, and similar items.

Note that portals are a particularly effective means of increasing stickiness of sites: Users often use the portal as their home page in the browser settings and traverse the Web from this initial Web page.

Portals often allow complete personalization for visitors, allowing visitors to select newsfeed categories that they want to see; colors, fonts, and layout of the Web page; and so on. See http://my.yahoo.com for more on how this works.

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