Getting people to find your blog is one side of the story. Keeping them for a while is another side of it.
While making people to find your blog is a tedious and not an easy thing, the saddest part comes when such a hardly earned visitor just chooses to hit the back button.
Apart from clicking the back button (which is not useful to you) what else can a visitor do that could establish engagement on your blog? He/she can
- Stay on and explore more blog posts
- Choose to leave a comment to your blog post
- Find your stuff interesting not only to them but also to their friends or mates and hence consider sharing them on social networks
- Want to stay long term and read on your blog’s daily updates and hence subscribe to RSS feeds or email newsletters.
- Becomes a great fan of you and your valuable content, hence chooses to buy your stuff (training courses, e-books, subscription to premium content and so on).
Basically, by engaging your reader you are making him/her do an action. But you cannot just simply achieve reader engagement.
Here are some useful tips that help you engage your reader.
This is about the first impression. You either make it or your reader leaves.
I won’t be happy to visit a website that has some content written among flashing banners asking me to click on, animated gadgets and various badges that “show off” authors talents. The layout must be clean.
Your content should rule the page and ads are secondary. The layout should also be in such a way that the content is clearly present, with nice fonts and without colors (text and background) that strains the eyes.
Link to your old posts
Stand alone posts in a blog are normal. But try to include links to your previous posts, if they are relevant and in the context, in any blog post.
Linking to old posts means you are writing relevant and consistent content. Links within a blog post makes it easy for a reader to take action, that is read more of your content.
Display popular content
This again is to show more of your old content. In this case, it is not the relevant content, but popular content.
The advantage of showing popular content is that, you get to show off your popular hot posts.
This increases the number of links to blog posts displayed in your home page, hence makes it easier for the reader to click and explore more.
Make search and navigation easy
Your blog’s readers are as busy as you are, even busier than you, searching for content, looking for answers and so on.
If they landed on your home page, they should be able to know where to move. It should be easy to search for a term, which means a search box should be available.
There should be a navigation bar which shows all the pages of your blog, say the archive page, about page and so on. Further, an additional navigation bar showing the categories of the blog posts could be of great use too.
Fast loading time
As I said just now, people are busy. If your site takes more than 5 seconds to load then your potential visitor has already clicked the back button.
So make it lighter to load faster. Do not use too many plugins.
Do not keep the unused plugins deactivated, rather delete them; you can install them later on if you wish to use them.
If your blog appears on the search list for “chocolates” and when a reader clicks the link to see that you write about “cycling”, then you suck (according to the reader, not me :))!
Use only the appropriate keywords, write for people and not solely for search engines.
Don’t be crazy about getting Google’s attention and use inappropriate keywords. Use only those keywords that match your content, naturally.
Call out to action
This is one of the tips that most bloggers overlook.
Sometimes you readers are not that smart or they don’t care about what to do next. Why don’t you guide them? Call them out to take an action.
- You could request them to subscribe to RSS feed either in a siderbar gadget, or in the header of the blog or at the footer of a post. You can include the benefits of subscription (say that you send out newsletters or free stuff and so on).
- You can ask them to leave comments at the end of the post. For this you may also finish the post with a question to the reader.
- You can ask the reader to share the post with their friends via social sharing buttons. You could explicitly include a line like “If you like reading this post, please consider sharing it”.
The responses you get when you ask your readers can be amazing.
If you are not offering unique content, you should not be blogging, seriously.
If people find out that you are re-writing someone else’s stuff, you are screwed. Your blog is not the only one in the web. In order to show yourself up among millions of other blogs, you have to be unique.
Even if you are writing magazine or news type of blogs where you report flash news, you should toss in your own ideas or perspectives into your post.
Otherwise, why should people find your blog while they can read the news at BBC or CNN website? Unique content is a hook which anchors your visitors with no pain.
What method do you use to achieve reader engagement?
Don’t forget to read Part 2 of this post!