So you are publishing blog post after blog post. You get some traffic, but that’s it. Nothing else happens!
No sales; no subscriptions; no affiliate sales; no email opens; nothing!
Now that’s heartbreaking isn’t? Really, really heartbreaking.
And, it doesn’t matter whether you get a trickle of traffic or really good traffic. All that matters is engagement.
That might be a very bold statement. But I am not taking it back.
Traffic is of no use without engagement. Which is why we all talk about targeted traffic.
Pointless traffic that comprises of people who just come to your site, stay for a few seconds (or not!) and then bounce back is not going to do any good to your business.
Your business depends on people who buys your recommendations, your own products, people who subscribe to your email list, people who talk about you, people who are interested in taking up your service and so on.
When people just come to your site and leave without doing anything, the traffic is just dead weight. That kind of traffic is only putting unnecessary load on your server. Nothing else!
What exactly is engagement for a blog?
It depends actually on the focus of your business. Some bloggers want their readers to subscribe to their newsletter – THAT simple. Some want people to fill out a form – say, asking for a quote!
Some bloggers want their readers to leave a comment or share their blog post in social media. Their main aim is to increase input from the readers as well as want their readers to spread the word for them.
So, every blogger has a different goal in mind when it comes to engagement.
The most important step in boosting engagement of your blog!
You know what it is? It is first to identify YOUR goal. You have to identify the answer to YOUR search; the longing. What do you REALLY want to achieve from this blog?
To get to that point you ought to have clarity first. You need to know your goals clearly. Only then you will be able to define what you want from all that traffic you generate!
Which is why we talk about targeted traffic – Pointless traffic is dead weight.
You could drive thousands of visitors to your site from a PPC campaign; or from sites that sell “hits” for some pennies. But if that traffic is not interested in what you are blogging about, they are simply going to bounce off.
That’s wasted resources (and time), right?
Clearly defining your blogging goals helps you generate targeted traffic; and that helps you achieve engagement on your blog!
And once you know what you want, you have your own definition of “engagement” on your blog – it could be newsletter subscription, a comment, social share, product sale, affiliate sale or whatever!
You have to define it first! This is the most important step of all when we talk about boosting blog engagement – in fact, without this step everything else is invalid in this context.
OK now that you know what you want, let’s see how you can achieve a substantial increase in blog engagement.
User friendly design
This one is mostly overlooked in the blogosphere. I know there are some bloggers who dedicate quite some money and efforts to the look of their blog. But what I am talking about is even more than the look.
And whatever I am going to talk beyond this point about design – assume it is for YOUR target audience, as I cannot give a one-size-fits-all solution!
First, your blog’s design should be pleasing to the eyes. You should know what pleases your target audience. In general no one likes white text on a black background. If it is the other way around it would be much better. And people also like some white space between the text so eyes can breathe (can eyes breathe? Oh well!).
And then think about the use of colors, widgets, ads, plugins etc. Only use those plugins that are absolutely needed for the function of your blog.
Here’s a presentation that discusses more on this topic!
You might add a few cool features – but use them only if they are necessary; you don’t want to load your own server and your readers’ eyes with unwanted features.
Assuming you know what you want your readers to do (the definition of engagement, according to you), make sure those elements are right there in the right place on your site.
If you want people to optin (sign up) you have to put those sign up forms in the right place; and as well as make sure the process of signing up is easy.
If you want people to buy your product, you have to include the appropriate call to action in the appropriate places.
I can go on adding, but you get the point.
Focus on site speed
Don’t give me that look 🙂 You are thinking what site speed has got to do with improving reader engagement in a blog right?
If users don’t stay on your site how can they engage in any activity? Yes, your site speed decides whether people would stay or not.
Think about this – if you click on a website’s link from Google search and if it take ages to load, will you wait? Or will you click the back button and go to the next site in the search result?
Obviously, you will click the back button and go to another site, right?
Because we are in 2015 and that particular site that takes ages to load is not the only site that can give information on that topic. You can find the same information on another site, right?
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of sites on any topic on the planet. If you don’t have a website that is optimized to load faster (less than 3 seconds, preferably), then your readers won’t be staying on your site to do any kind of engaging activity.
Easy sharing buttons
So this is another blunder I see with many blogs. If you want your blog readers to share your blog posts in social media, you better make it easy for them to do so.
This isn’t rocket science. If the sharing buttons are not there or if your readers have to go through five clicks and a lot of edits to do the sharing, they will just go on without sharing.
You have to make sure that your sharing buttons are prominent (clearly visible) and are visible both at the top and bottom of the post.
Some readers argue with me on this – why would one want to put sharing a sharing button on top of the post. People would be willing to share a post only when they finish reading it, right?
Well that’s quite true. But in today’s busy world people do prefer to share a post, if it is from a reliable source. I do that some times. If I don’t have the time to read the post immediately, I save it for later, but share it immediately.
Either put up sharing buttons at the start and end of the post. Or put up sticky buttons so they come all way through the end.
So you want your readers to sign up for your newsletter, right? Take a look at your site to verify where you have given them that option!
If you have put up a sign up form only in the sidebar, you are missing out hugely. People are becoming more and more blind to sidebar optin forms, because it has kind of become a standard.
People fail to pay attention to things that they are used to see repeatedly – like banner blindness. So if you are using the sidebar as the ONLY option to make people sign up, you won’t see engagement.
You could put up optin forms in the header, in the home page, after post, in the top of the sidebar as well as in the bottom (better make this one sticky), footer etc. You can also go a step further and use pop ups, slide ins etc. if your readers are not annoyed!
Remember this KEY thing
IF you want to boost engagement in your blog, you have to make the necessary facility available and easy for your readers. I hope I have made that point clear in this blog post.
If your engagement opps are not prominent enough and/or if you make people to go through lots of loops to get there, they are not going to engage – no matter what.
While you are actively concentrating on creating killer content and promoting it, make sure the engagement boosting elements are in place on your website!