Return visitors – 3 Strikes and you’re out!

It may seem blindingly obvious to state that the Internet is not a book or a magazine. People who visit your site (or blog) are interested in gaining information, whether it be information about you, what you sell, or what you have to say. If they re-visit your site they want to see fresh content, new posts or new products. If they have seen it all before, why come back?

In general I tend to think readers of websites, or blogs even more so, have a certain attention span that needs feeding. Most people are fairly busy and don’t want to waste their time looking for something that is not there.

When I visit a site that I like I tend to bookmark it (or subscribe to it via RSS). I go back in a few days and have a look for new posts. If there are new posts I come back the next day and the day after that. On the flip-side, if I go back and the content is the same as before I tend to move on and look at other things. I will often return in a few more days and see if it has been updated, but if there is nothing new I tend not to go back for a while.

The more you go back to a site and see nothing new, the more stale the site becomes. There are so many sites out there and such enormous competition, that it is easy to move on and forget the site that was not updated.

With this in mind I liken the generation of fresh content on a website or blog to the 3-strike rule in baseball.

Strike one

A visitor usually comes back in a day or two, looking for fresh content

Strike two

Visitor comes back again a day or so later, giving the site a second chance

Strike three!

Visitor usually returns a little while later, when they remember about the site. If there is still nothing new the visitor is unlikely to return

This is not a hard and fast rule, some people may give a site more chances, some might give less. Most web site owners, bloggers in particular, are guilty of allowing lapses in posting (myself included), especially when they are busy, but it is worth keeping this lesson in mind when you start to get busy.

Your most valuable visitors are the return visitors. They obviously liked what they saw the first time they visited, that’s why they came back. Don’t let them down!

4 replies
  1. vextasy
    vextasy says:

    Like you, I read a lot of sites through RSS (usually technical ones) but it would be interesting to know how much traffic twitter drives to individual web sites. I often find I click on a twitterer’s web site to see a little more of their background and often put what they have said in a better context. I think of twitter as a kind of dynamic bookmark.

  2. Jim
    Jim says:

    @Lyndi: That’s right, and I just need to look back at my stats to see the effect of not posting for a week or two. It does take a while to recover.

    @vextacy: Good point, Twitter and RSS are great tools for giving people a nudge if you have been away for a while, but we need to also realise that ultimately RSS readers are in the minority compared to regular visitors. Thanks for the comment 😀

  3. Frog
    Frog says:

    Nice post. In general I agree with it. But then again the most useful sites I tend to visit only get updated a couple of times a month, but it’s the in depth post that makes me a loyal reader. Quality content is king, but keeping it fresh is key.


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