This past weekend, I spent some time researching how to increase readership on a blog. I looked up everything from rss feeds, blog ads, site design, layout and content.
So here’s a few things I’ve found:
1) RSS Feeds
I found a great article called 50 Ways to Gain RSS Subscribers. It’s a great article and definitely worth the read. I’ve even decided to try out some of the suggestions:
- Place an RSS Feed icon above the fold… At the top of my blog you’ll see that I’ve removed the outdated “Boobie-thon” ad and have replaced it with an eye catching RSS Feed Icon (animated too!) – DONE
- Have an animated RSS Feed icon – DONE
- Explain that subscribing is free… Hey guys! Subscribe to my blog – it’s free! DONE
- Write a post asking readers to subscribe… I guess that would be this post – DONE
- Have a “subscribe to” link at the bottom of every post – DONE
- Allow readers to subscribe via email… You can do that in one of two ways, you can use the subscribe by email form in my sidebar courtesy of feedburner, or you can subscribe on my “SUBSCRIBE” page via the “subscribe2″ plugin, either way you’ll be emailed whenever my blog is updated so you’ll never miss any of my fantastic content! – DONE
2) Blog Ads
I signed up for and am trying out Entrecard.com – a blog ad exchange service. You create an ad for your site (aka your card), and buy ad space at other blogs with entrecard credits called “ec’s”. You can earn more ec’s by visiting blogs and dropping your entrecard at the sites that you visit, or by selling space on your site. Unfortunately you can’t really change your asking price for hosting ads, other than by dropping a heck of a lot of your “cards” and therefore increasing your blogs ranking. I created my ad (aka card):
And spent 2 days with entrecard, dropping my “card” all over the blogosphere. I earned quite a few credits and have purchased ad space at a number of blogs for this week. Though, after 2 days I can say that it hasn’t really increased my blog traffic, # of comments or # of subscribers. I’ll have to wait and see if the blog ads this week do anything at all. I seem to believe that entrecard.com doesn’t target the right market and that everyone on there is just there to do exactly what I was doing – trying to increase blog traffic, with no interest in discovering new blogs.
3) Site Design/Site Layout
Through my research in rss feeds and blog ads I encountered discussions on site layout, specifically above the fold and below the fold, and whether your sidebar should be different on your home page than on an article page.
What is the fold? Essentially the fold is the point at which blog readers need to begin scrolling to see the rest of your site. Anything above that point is called “above the fold” – everything there can be seen without having to scroll. “Below the fold” is anything that can only be seen by scrolling.
I must admit I never gave much thought about where stuff was on my site – all I cared about was whether or not its there. I have a “subscribe to this feed” link, so why does it matter where it is? Essentially you want your RSS feed link to be easily found, you want readers to be able to subscribe easily, while other stuff you want to be a wee bit harder to find so that visitors see more of your site, like the entrecard “drop box”. So I spent a few minutes moving things around my sidebar, an RSS link above the fold, and the entrecard drop box below the fold. If you host pay-per-click ads you may want them to appear above the fold.
Another thing I never considered was that most visitors don’t enter your blog via your main page, instead they usually land on an article page. They come by via Google searches, track backs or links to specific posts of yours from other blogs. Based on what that visitor sees on that article page, they’ll decide whether or not to continue surfing around your blog. If they do continue surfing, chances are the visitor will head over to either your “Home” page or your “About” page. The article I read on Yoast suggests that your home page should be different from your article page, yanno – to keep it fresh and interesting.
4) Blog Content
This seems to be the one area I struggle with the most. Should I write long, detailed, witty posts or short to the point posts? Should I post every day, every other day, at the same time, or at different times through the day? What should I title my posts? What do you want to read about? Do I write in an effort to try and capture more readers, to entertain you or to simply satisfy my own ego? I spent some time this weekend reading articles on this very question and found that there is way more information on this topic than I could possibly cover in this post, so if you want to learn more, you might want to check out some of these articles:
- How To Write Great Blog Content
- Resolve To Produce Great Content
- Blogging Tips – Hundreds of Resources for Finding Content for Your Blog
Basically after all of this research I’ve come to the humble opinion that if you want to increase traffic, you need to visit other blogs in your blog niche and leave comments – participate in blog communities, spend some time tweaking your layout for easy navigation, as well as write good, consistent blog content. My biggest traffic increases have come through commenting on other blogs – bloggers love to feel the love, and often will share the love back! I’ve spent some time this weekend on my layout and design, taking into account my research. My header image needs mucho improvement, but other than that I think I’m in pretty good shape. As for content, that seems to be my trouble spot – I’m not really funny, or insightful, or even all that entertaining. My kids are cute – and I seem to get a lot of comments on my posts about my family, so I guess I should stick with what I know!