One of the best things about having a blog is knowing you have a select group of readers who continuously come to you for advice and inspiration. Of course, no blog starts out with an avid readership – it is something you have to build and maintain yourself. But what do readers online want from their blogs, and how exactly do you make your blog “sticky”?
Visitors are more likely to feel at home if they know a little about you. An “about me” page is a great way to show who you are to readers, as well as highlight what kind of content they will be able to find on your blog.
With the vast array of content available on the internet at the touch of a few buttons, readers are constantly looking for new and more interesting posts. Publishing new content to your blog once every two months is simply not good enough, and nobody is going to be impressed with a blogger whose posts are out of date. If you are stuck for ideas on what to blog about, read some other blogs dealing with a similar topic to yours in order to get inspiration.
Engage with readers
When a reader takes the time to post a comment on your blog, it is only right to reply to them and engage them in an online conversation. At the very least it is the polite thing to do, and it will also make the reader feel that their opinion is valued by you, leading them to return to your blog over time. Ask readers to leave a comment at the end of each post in order to get the conversation started.
Post multimedia content
These days, readers online are used to seeing a range of multimedia content on blogs. Put simply, a long stream of copy with few images or breaks is going to make the average reader leave your blog, and probably never return. Include videos in your posts where relevant to give the reader something to break up the text with and keep them entertained. Whether your topic is the latest video games or bank accounts online, you will be sure to find some videos on YouTube that are relevant to your posts.
Open links in new windows
This is a simple technical touch that will keep readers on your blog, but you’d be surprised how many bloggers neglect to use it. If you are linking to other sites and resources in your posts (always a good idea, as long as the source is reputable), make sure you check the options that open the links in a separate tab or window. The alternative means that readers will be taken away from your own blog and sent to another page, which is obviously not what you want to achieve.
Link to other posts
If you are writing on a topic you have previously covered, or you are writing a sequel to one of your previous posts, why not link to the older post in your newer one? Showing visitors a number of pages will mean they come across areas of your blog that they may not have otherwise read. You should still format these pages to open in a new tab.
Make searches easy
Nothing is bound to infuriate a blog reader more than having to search vigorously for content. If you have a large number of posts and some content is ‘buried’ underneath others, you should include a large search box in a prominent position on the front page. If readers can find the content they want to read quickly and easily, they’ll come back.
Provide minimal distractions
Ideally, everyone would like to make money from their blog, and there are few easier ways to do this than by displaying pop up and banner ads. However, too many will not only make the page cluttered but will slow down the scaling of the page, meaning your readers have to wait for the site to load before reading. This will often cause them to just click away in frustration, so try and keep advertising minimal.
Make your error page attractive
Even though links sometimes get broken and pages do not load correctly, there’s no reason to show your visitors an ugly “ERROR 404” message. Try and inject a sense of humour into any mistakes – the classic “Whoops! Something went wrong!” message is tried and tested.