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The Importance of ‘Pause Points’ On Your Blog

Over the last week I’ve run some Crazy Egg heat map tracking on two posts on Digital Photography School (both of which got to the front page of Digg and got a lot of traffic) that both highlight to me a very simple method of increasing the number of pages that people view when they visit your blog.

Let me illustrate with a screen capture of the heat map from my post – How to Avoid Camera Shake:

Related-Articles.png

What you’re looking at above is the ‘hottest’ zone on the post. It is the most clicked upon part of the page. This section of the page was clicked on just under 2000 times over the duration of this test. The full page had just under 6000 clicks.

What stands out for me is that the section of the page you’re viewing above is a long way from the top of the post. While the general rule is that people click more on links at the tops of posts – this section of the page is only viewable once you’ve hit ‘page down’ 7 times!

The first two links in the section are links to my subscription page and a byline link to the author of the post – but the other five are all internal links to other articles on the blog. This means 1800 or so of the visitors to this page viewed at least one other page on the blog.

The ‘Further Reading on Camera Shake’ links were ones that I manually added to the post and the ‘Read more posts like ‘How to….’ links were automated links generated with a WP Plugin.

Lets look at another example

In this test (on a post on ‘Jowling‘) I’m showing you the same section of the page. This time I had to hit ‘page down’ 5 times to get to it. Again it’s low on the page and again I’ve got the automated links as well as two others in the ‘A Couple of other things….’ section.

Once again – this is the hottest part of the page in terms of clicks with around 1600 clicks (all internal) out of 6500 clicks on the full page.

related-articles-2.png

Why do readers click links so far down the page?

It might seem a little odd that links so far down a page would be clicked on at such a high rate – but the reason that it happens is quite logical. These points on the page are what I call ‘pause points’. They are parts of a page where readers pause and make a decision on what to do next.

These sections are all at the end of articles – a point where readers end one activity and look to do another one. Many readers simply hit ‘back’ at this point or head to Google to search for something else – however when you give them something else to do or read you have a decent chance of convincing them to stay on your site.

Other Things to Do at Pause Points

There are of course other things that you can do in these ‘pause points’ on a blog including:

  • Advertising – this is a ‘hot zone’ in terms of CPC ads
  • Affiliate Programs – I don’t find they convert as well as CPC ads here but they can work
  • Social Bookmarking – many bloggers run social bookmark buttons in this spot to encourage readers to vote for the post
  • Subscription Invitations – this is a great place to get conversions from first time readers to subscribe to your blog

Really any key conversion goals that you want to achieve can work in a ‘Pause Point’ – although when you put too many options in that point for readers you probably dilute the conversion rate. What else do you put in ‘pause points’?

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. O man! its awesome you share such great thoughts which inspires millions to be a fair blogger, a problogger like you..The more you share the knowledge the more it increases in terms of use..Thanks Darren…

  2. Louis Liem says:

    I usually engage readers to share, discuss and put ads below posts. Are there any order that works best? Like which one better comes first?

  3. Brian says:

    Having a ‘related information’ or ‘read more’ section after a post is definitely a way to increase page views. I noticed an immediate increase when I included this section on my travel blog. Currently I add these manually as I have not taken the plugin plunge.

    Have not tried ads in this section, but have considered it – don’t want the site to be too ad full – but it is something that people should maybe play around with.

    Thanks for the pointers

  4. Billy says:

    It doesn’t surprise me that you get strong clicks at the end of an article that takes seven page-downs to reach. Your writing style works very well at keeping the reader focused and leading them to your pause points. Not all bloggers are that adept. I hope that I can be as successful at it as you are.

  5. Kenyatta says:

    Thank you for this information. I am going to try and incorporate pause points in my blog.

  6. Elizabeth says:

    Another reason that you may receive so many clicks far down on the page is that the readers who get this far are truly invested in what you’ve written. They’ve gotten far into the reading which means that they actually care deeply about the subject and thus want to keep reading more.

  7. Marc says:

    Highly useful! I have been using the heatmaps from crazyegg to find out a lot about how users react to different pages, layouts and designs as well

    Thanks for sharing this info, i hope to draw some some useful conclusions from my own tests soon. Heatmapping is one of the most useful analytics to come along in a while :)

  8. Dominique says:

    Having a related post section at the end of the post really helps draws the reader further into previous posts on your blog. It also keeps the reader longer at your site.
    Excellent points you raised in this post.

  9. Karen Zara says:

    It seems I’ve been missing several opportunities by not using pause points. I really believed that links near the top of an article would almost always get the most clicks. Now that I’ve read about your results, I think I’ll perform some experiments on my blogs — or at least on some of them — to see if it would work for me too.

    I wonder if a blog’s niche would interfere in the results? Some types of reader could be more sensitive to pause points than others.

  10. bugsy says:

    Interesting post.

  11. Hendry Lee says:

    Thanks, this heap map thing is quite new to me. I am impressed with the features.

    I do a lot of article marketing. I always believe to increase click through, writers have to make the transition at the end of the article to the resource box as smooth as possible, then include a call to action to avoid confusing the readers about what to do next.

    Now I have a proof to back up my claim.

  12. Cory says:

    Very interesting and important topic for discussion. I would argue that the end of an article is not really a “pause point”. I think they’re better thought of as “end points”. Why? Because in my mind the decision to look for additional information(which is often accessed by links at the bottom of an article or post) is made prior to reaching the end of the article or post. If an article sucks, I’m gone before reaching the bottom – so I “paused” on the fly if you will. I haven’t fully flushed out this though, but that’s my initial reaction to your post. In any event, I appreciate you bringing this to our attention.

  13. Joseph says:

    Wonderful insight Darren…I have a “tell a friend” plugin added at the base of all my monologues in order to encourage visitors to help “spread the word”. It proves useful.

  14. Never leave your readers hanging. That’s good. Give them somewhere to go at the end of your post or website’s page.

    I think sometimes we get lazy and forget to ask people “click here to subscribe to my feed.”

  15. Reading this is kinda bittersweet. It’s sweet because it proves what I was thinking when I was constructing theme for my blog. I was analyzing my behaviour while reading and it sounded reasonable that links at the end of the post, and just before comment section should perform well. As you said, that’s the spot where the reader decides where to go next. So I put a nice ad banner :)
    It is bitter cause that banner doesn’t attracts many clicks :D
    At least, now I know that my reasoning works for some sites. After all, each one behaves differently.

  16. Jess Gordon says:

    I have a wordpress.com blog, and they have an option to use an automatically generated list of related posts at the end of each post. Some from your own blog, some from other blogs within wordpress. I think it is a great idea, but for some reason, there were a lot of unrelated posts showing up in my lists, so I turned the feature off. But since then I have been thinking of manually creating a similar list at the end of my posts. This article has me even more convinced to try it. Thanks!!

  17. Sandy Naidu says:

    Thanks for the tip Darren…I know I am not adding anything meaningful here in the comments section…But for me it truly is a great tip and something I am going to put in use – today.

  18. Black Zedd says:

    I’ve just inserted ‘other posts’ listing below the post pages last week, and watching my crazyegg data, it seems to work. Average time spent on site also improves. (If only Blogger can be more flexible in listing ‘related post’..)

    It’s a straight logic, but sometimes, we tend to miss the obvious. Great insight Darren, thanks..

  19. zk says:

    words of wisdom from Darren

  20. felix says:

    If I want to add the links manually or install the related posts wp plugin, how can test/edit these items without going “live?” — How can I test & perfect plugins before pushing them to the live site for all my readers to see and use?

  21. Jess…. try using Simple Tags plugin http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/simple-tags which will generate a list of related posts based on your tags…. With wisely chosen tags it works very good.

  22. I’ve noticed the same trend. It is a great place to ask for your readers to subscribe.

    The Masked Millionaire

  23. Awesome post! I love that you added the heat maps.

  24. Great information and very cool heat maps! That would be a cool user experience to show heat maps in real time on pages. Thanks for sharing.

  25. PotPieGirl says:

    I Love Heat Maps! Thanks for showing us a sample of yours! When you are so heavily invested in your own blog, it is SO hard to stay ‘objective’ and see it as a reader sees it. Heat maps give us a view of how others interact on our blogs… what a valuable tool!

    The ‘pause points’ you refer to are what I call my ‘what now?’ points….. also referred to as a ‘call to action’ I like them at the end of my posts. As another commentor pointed out, if a reader gets to the end of your post, they are invested in your topic. That is best place to provide a call to action and help the reader find more things that will interest them.

    This is a great and insightful post – thank you for sharing!

    Jennifer
    PotPieGirl.com

  26. Noobpreneur says:

    Darren,

    This post brings better, more ‘scientific’, understanding why bloggers are encouraged to put call-to-action messages at what you describe as pause point.

    Cheers for the good post!

  27. B Clarke says:

    Darren,

    Thanks for yet another great post. For low traffic hobby bloggers it’s tough to ever get information like this from our own sites because we don’t get enough traffic to suss these things out, but there’s nothing like a heat map to convince me.

    BTW, congrats on your new baby.

  28. Wayne Tully says:

    I like the idea of creating a tracking solution for the pause points that you highlighted, this sounds quite right in terms of finding where they clicked and what is popular on your blog, but what of password protected pages? does this remain the same, I mean can this tool or any other pass this obstacle?

  29. Rob Walters says:

    Really good info.

    Thanks…..Rob Walters
    BunkerShot.com GOLF

  30. kafkaz says:

    I love the heat maps. Neat idea. I do think it’s good to keep in mind, though, that activity at the end of a post can also tell us something about the way people read, and especially something about the way they read online. When I’m blog hopping, I’m often looking for something very specific, and will skim until I find that. If key bullet points and links are at the end of the post, I’ll go there, but that doesn’t always indicate engagement with the rest. (Present blogger excluded, of course!) Totally agree that it might be smart to bury your bounce points (and to set them to launch in a separate tab), but I’d encourage other heat map makers to analyze the results very carefully in the context of their own blogging purposes. Readers are tricky, very tricky!

  31. Faiz says:

    That is a very interesting point which I have read for the first time. working on pause points will be helpful.

  32. Hi Darren
    This is a wonderful post you have here, its very informative, educative yet communicating the idea behind it to all. I wish l could master this art of blogging and ads.
    Wish you luck.

  33. Reginald says:

    I found this post to be quite thought provoking.

    It certainly proves a widely accepted theory to be, at the minimum, questionable.

    Your post also cause me to wonder what else needs some rethinking?

    Thanks for providing the gently push. It’s a nice reminder as to why someone should think out of the box.

  34. LOL. That was a nice example of automated post. Spammer!

  35. Slevi says:

    Ooh, I fall under one of those people who clicks on links at the end of the posts. Reason to click on particularly those links is quite simple for me; it saves me from scrolling back up!

    On the internet it’s funny and all how we place links in the midst of our texts, but when people are reading do they really want to click away in the middle of the text? I know I barely click on any of them, just read down and there I surf on further.

  36. Erica Brooks says:

    Helpful post. I recently added a related post plugin and will definitely look into using your suggestions on other options to use at my pause points. Thanks for sharing.

  37. Lenin Nair says:

    Informative, Darren.

    About the sharing button, I have enabled a little snippet requesting bookmarking and subscribing at the end of each post in my blog, as well as a little Addthis code. Feedburner is showing ads right below it.

    I have experienced that this below post ad is getting some clicks due to its advantage of being below posts. However, in my last design the adsense code placed on the top of the posts got clicked the most. Now, in the new design, I feel it inappropriate to place adsense above posts. So there is only a side big rectangle.

    Your heatmap details are very good, it is a great addition to the video post you are running these days.

  38. B. Durant says:

    I’ve always subscribed to the notion that people are far less likely to click the further along the page they get. Apparently that isn’t always the case. I’ll have to make some adjustments in my thinking and see what I can come up with.

    By the sounds of it I’m going to assume that the longer an article is the more useful this method will be?

  39. Matt says:

    I’ve used Crazy Egg for similar research on my blogs and have found that the height of the page usually isn’t an issue. With a lot of readers using their mouse’s scroll wheel, it’s easy to go from top to bottom with minimal effort. For a casual or non-regular reader, it’s far more likely that they’ll “skim” the page with speed as opposed to being burdened by a browser scrollbar.

    I know I use this method all of the time when I’m more interested in the outcome or discussion within a particular article than I am with getting every last detail. That usually lands me in the “pause point” fairly quickly on a majority of the blogs I read. :)

    Thanks for the article and research, good stuff!

  40. My guess is that we are used to reading from left to right so therefore have begun to co-relate it to the most activity! Interesting find / post… keep up the good work.

  41. MBL says:

    Here’s a wild suggestion for you to take it one step further with your heat map experiments.

    Use the heat maps to see if there is any pause points in the comments where a reader left a comment that got the most click thru and why those comments worked the best.

    It would take some experimenting to do but I think it would help us better understand why commenting can be a useful tool to drive traffic and how.

  42. Reginald says:

    B. Durant,

    I think that we all could benefit from a little extra effort invested in thinking outside the box.

    In my opinion, this post is a gentle reminder of that.

  43. This reminds me of the “Getting Things Done” concept of Next Actions. What would be a good heading for this section? “Related Reading:” isn’t always right because sometimes the action is viewing a video, visiting an online store, or subscribing to an RSS feed.

    How about “Related Things To Do:” or “Things To Do Next:”. Any suggestions on this would be helpful for the discussion.

    Thanks.