Getting people to find your blog is only one side of the story. Keeping them for a while is another side of it.
While increasing the visibility of your blog and making it easy for people to find is a tedious task, the saddest part comes when that visitor you worked so hard to earn, chooses to hit the back button and leave your site.
Apart from clicking the back button (which is not useful to you) what else can a visitor do instead, 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 perform a useful action. But you cannot just simply achieve audience engagement.
Here are some useful tips that help you engage your readers.
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 random ads. The layout must be clean.
Your content should rule the page and ads (or anything else) 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 content and content that aligns with your blogging focus.
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 take 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 sidebar 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. Ms. Ileane speaks about how powerful your blog's RSS feed is and how it helps boost engagement in this video:
Unique, great content
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 internet. In order to show yourself up among millions of other blogs, your content has 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 the BBC or CNN website? Unique content is a hook which anchors your visitors with no pain.
And, I am not going to talk about great content because that's not only a big topic, but you would have heard a lot of advice on creating great content. Have you implemented the advice? That's the key.
By the way, I highly recommend you to pick up my content creation course to help you create killer content for your business on a regular basis.
A picture is worth 1000 words. When you have a picture or many pictures in your blog post you are most likely to engage the reader with your first impression.
The more relevant the picture is the more engaged the reader will feel.
In fact your picture will make the reader to decide in seconds whether to continue reading your blog post or not.
While using pictures to gain attention, it is important that the pictures are relevant to the blog post and funny or thought provoking, if necessary. However, make sure that you give credits to the pictures you use in your blog posts.
You can look for stock photos in various places, free or paid, the choice is yours.
However, you can also go premium to avail some of the high quality premium images.
In addition, make sure you upload the “web friendly” version of the images you downloaded since very high quality images will be bigger in size and will make your site load slow.
You can use compressor.io for this.
Or if you use Photoshop, you can use the “Save for web” option to get this done.
Offering free stuff is a way to engage readers.
Especially when your free stuff is prominent or obvious in your home page and in all pages, you are most likely to win a reader.
Note that I said “most likely” and not definitely coz it still needs some trust building before people could simply stay longer or eventually give you their email address.
Offering free stuff is a way of calling to action and since something free will attract anyone, the reader is most likely to take the necessary action (like subscribing to your blog).
In addition, depending upon the value of the free stuff and its content, you will most likely gain a loyal reader.
If your free stuff offers them really worth stuff they will come back to your blog, they will spread the word and they are most likely to buy any product that you launch later.
Archives (the most underused technique I'd say)
You can make anyone happy by having an archive page in your blog.
When someone arrives at your blog through a search and end up liking your posts, they would want to dig deeper. They want to skim through all your posts and find those posts that interest them and read them.
All this is possible only if you have a neat archive page which displays all your old articles in some clean organization.
It is highly recommended that you put the link to this archive page obviously and make it easy for the readers to get to your archive page from all pages.
I have ended up subscribing to various blogs (even some are on topic that I am not too deep into) just because I like the writing style and the voice of the author.
When I start to read an article and if I feel that the voice or the writing style is more engaging than the information in the article itself, then it reaches my heart and mind so soon.
As a blogger when you have a consistent writing style and if you can make your voice sound good and authoritative in your niche, you can surely make your reader look for more.
You can easily make them stick around this way.
What method do you use to achieve reader engagement? I'd love to hear from you. Please share in the comments.