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Maybe you’ve heard this cyber-spatial fact before:

Q: How long does it take a website visitor to decide whether to stay or go?
A: Two seconds.

And that’s why headline writing is an art form.

There’s more to the mix than that, of course. Here’s a sampling of other elements:

  • Clean graphics
  • Background color
  • Use of short paragraphs with white space (beyond important, in my opinion), and
  • Page layout

As to the latter, recent studies are dispelling previously held concepts.

In its article published on 18 March 2013, Ad Age revealed a site page’s hotspots aren’t exactly where they’ve conventionally been assumed to be. Peruse this graphic from the article for a moment:

Web Page Heat Map

Summarizing the article, here’s what we’re learning:

  • It looks like top-of-the-page banners aren’t prime site real estate, after all.
  • The most engaging section of the page is about one-third of the way down.
  • The bottom of the page actually has more engagement effect than the banner area.

We adhere to these fundamentals at The Daily Player, which is our snarky sports site that’s No 1 on Google for its keywords.

For example, the lower left corner of each of our pages duplicates the site entry buttons from the top of our pages, giving our readers an immediate opportunity to further explore our site:

Daily Player navigation buttonsThe second of Ad Age’s three findings is intriguing.

Part of our editing task is to identify links from other sites that support the points made in freelance articles submitted to us. I’m constantly coming across sites where the ads are placed below a story’s headline and lead paragraph.

So, it hasn’t taken long for smart administrators to put these findings to work!

The freelancers who contribute to our site are successful online because they, too, well understand the basic principles of user engagement. An excellent article on this topic was posted at Oracle Involver, detailing five of them and how they would apply, for example, to your Facebook page:

  1. Optimize your site to encourage user involvement, which includes posting regularly and promptly responding to comments.
  2. Know the most effective posting times for your market niche.
  3. Word economy is vital; say what needs to be said and not one word more, and then find a way to edit your content further.
  4. You’re not a salesman; Facebook is about interaction instead of blasts.
  5. Invite interaction; an involved visitor is more willing to consider your message.

Remember the buying cycle. If you want to be successful in a work-at-home business, know where your content fits within the platform you’re using. Using the Facebook example, you’ll want to move the interaction to your product site or to an e-mail/texting conversation.

Here’s a simple tutorial that provides a checklist to ensure all bases are covered when optimizing your site or blog to keep your visitors with you long enough to make your point:

The best content is narration, not a shrill blaring.

Each stage of the buying cycle is better presented by direction, not dictation. Remember, you’ve only got two seconds — and if you’re lucky, two or three more — to make that first impression. Your visitors need to feel welcome and see there’s more to discover about what you have to offer.

And they must be able to relate to it.

They’ll be much more receptive if you demonstrate you can address their needs by a presentation they sought out rather than your sounding like that irritating relative who’s just become an insurance salesman and forced the conversation out of the blue.

Treat those two seconds right, and your bank account will love you for it.

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