Is your blog doing the job you want it to do? Are you looking for ways to get more interaction with your readers? If you’re like me, you’ve read dozens of articles on how to make your blog more effective. Some of them are useful. Some of them are hardly worth reading. I don’t have the luxury of being a full-time blogger and struggle every week to find time to fit it into my workload. (Sound familiar?) I’ve learned a few things that have made a significant impact on my blog traffic and thought I’d share them with you.
1. Start with a Question
The first sentence is often the hardest to write. I’ve found if I start the blog with the question I’m trying to answer for my readers – and myself – the rest flows from there.
2. Be Conversational
My writing experience started with business documents and moved into freelance work for newspapers and magazines. It took me a while to figure out the detached voice needed for business writing and reporting wasn’t so great for my blog. Once I started injecting my own voice into the post, I started to get regular feedback from my readers.
3. Make the Title Work
Don’t ask me why, but people love lists. Any title stating a list of tips, hints, tricks or promises is going to be more popular than the same post with a different title. “How to” titles run a close second. If the title of this post had been “Musings on Blog Effectiveness” I can almost guarantee you wouldn’t have bothered to click on the title.
4. Use Images
I’m still not very good at doing this, but I’m trying to get better. I always get positive comments when I use an image. I nearly always get a suggestion to include images when I don’t. People like to look at pictures.
5. Take a Stand
While you can’t always predict what will set people off, writing a post that takes a definite stand is going to get noticed. When I wrote 6 Reasons for Refusing LinkedIn Invitations I had no idea it would create a controversy. It hit a nerve and went viral. No other post I’ve written has even come close on traffic.
6. Include Outbound Links
Search engines love links. When you link to another reputable site you’re helping your own search engine optimisation (SEO). You’re also demonstrating your research capabilities, which helps to establish your authority. Read what Darren Rowse at ProBlogger has to say about it in Do Outbound Links Matter for SEO (and more).
7. Use Internal Links
People like to click. Linking to another page on your own website satisfies the urge. It might be another post on a related topic, in this case How to avoid the Post and Hope Syndrome. It could be your Contact page. Either way, linking helps your readers find other things on your site they might be interested in and it improves your SEO.
8. Use Subheadings
I’ve said it before but it bears repeating. People don’t read much anymore. If you want them to get to the bottom of your post, you need to add hooks in your text to keep their eyes moving down the screen. Subheadings are a great device to accomplish this.
9. End with a Question
It’s a simple technique, but ending your post with a question is a great way to entice readers to leave a comment. I tried it and it works so well I use it on every post.
This list is by no means comprehensive or even scientific. I’ve developed it from lessons learned after a year of writing my own blog. I know if my post has all nine of these suggestions, my hit rate will be higher and I’ll get more comments than when I leave some of them off.
What things have you done to improve the effectiveness of your blog?