If you’ve been wondering how to make sure that your readers stay reading your words of wisdom rather than bouncing away after a brief glance, here are some ideas from an article that I originally published at Heatheronhertravels here.
Minimise your Bounce
When I started, I just wanted to make some record of my travels and share them with whoever was interested. If this is where you are, then I’m sure you’ll want your readers to explore the best of what you’ve posted and enjoy it to the full. A year down the line, I’m thinking of my blog as a way of generating some financial reward for the time and energy I put in, so building and retaining a readership is becoming increasingly important. If this is where you are, then you may need to attract and retain readers to maximise advertising revenue and create credibility for yourself as a writer and blogger. Either way, you’ll want to minimise your ‘bounce’ – in other words you don’t want readers to arrive at your site and bounce straight off it. You want them to stay a while, read a few posts and hopefully be interested enough to become a regular reader and subscriber.
Monitor your traffic
The first step to retaining your readers is knowing where they came from and what has attracted them to your blog. Free tools that I use to help me with this are Google Analytics and Sitemeter which give me statistics on different aspects of my readership. If you don’t already have these or something similar, you should install them – it’s quick, easy and free. Before you start, ensure that you set the account settings in Sitemeter to exclude visits from your own computer, otherwise you will get a false picture of your readership – it may just be you! The first thing that surprised me from analysing my traffic was that almost 30% in the last month is from search engines and 55% from referring sites. So only 15% are those faithful readers stopping by read my latest post. The vaste majority are people searching for information on a particular destination or being referred from another site. If you’re not careful they could read one article and bounce straight off into the blogsphere. To stop this happening, these are the steps I’ve taken on my own blog;
1. Reduce the links to external websites early on in the article and try to put them nearer the end of the post, so that the reader is more likely to read through my post before bouncing off.
2. Increase the links to other posts in my blog, to encourage the reader to explore what else I’ve written.
3. Add a list of three or so Related Posts to the bottom of each article (that’s posts from my own blog of course), to encourage the reader to explore other things on my blog that might interest them. This sometimes means going back to an older post to add in new related posts.
4. Add a Back to Home button at the bottom of each post. This means that a reader who lands on a specific post that I might have written a while ago can easily get to my most recent posts.
5. When you create a link, ensure that it opens in a new window, so that the reader can easily close it to return to your post. Some platforms give you an option to do this when you create the link but in Blogger you have to add a bit of code target=”_blank” into your link as explained here
6. Establish a mental pecking order for links that will take the reader away from my post as follows; a) Links to other posts within my blog b) Links to my Flick photo site c) Links to other bloggers who have helped me or are worthy of a mention d) Links to sites that will give the reader further useful information about the topic
7. If I see that a lot of traffic is being directed to a particular post, for instance because people are searching for information in Google, then I go back and ensure that I’ve followed all these steps for that post.
8. Not forgetting that the biggest thing that will keep your readers on your Blog is interesting and informative articles that keep them coming back for more. They’re all easy tips that just require a little regular housekeeping and hopefully will reduce that itchy finger syndrome. Perhaps they don’t all apply to you but will encourage you to consider how you can turn a one-off hit to someone who takes a journey through your blog. As I said, I’m far from expert in this area, so please share with me any tips you use to keep your readers on your blog for longer.