Every blogger lives in dread of a high bounce rate. We all want to keep those readers on our site, perusing content throughout the pages, for as long as possible. After all, we know that the more they read from us the more they like us, and the more they like us the more they send their friends to like us.Here are 12 blogging strategies that will keep your readers longer on your site and lower your bounce rate so the better the chance of making a sale and achieving your goals. Here are twelve strategies that will keep your readers longer on your website or blog.
Strategies 1-5 – It’s All About How You Write
I. The KIS Principle
While it may sound trite, “keep is simple” is probably the soundest advice a blogger will receive. Readers, no matter their level of education, expertise, or technical prowess want to be able to get the gist of what you’re saying by merely skimming the text.
Forcing your readers to slow down and re-read big words and technical jargon is as good as creating a pop-up box that says, “Don’t bother reading my blog; just go ahead and click that back button on your browser.”
II. Be Human
Remember those high school science textbooks? They were so boring that you’d catch yourself nodding off while studying! Chances are that it was not the content itself that bored you, but the tone and style of the writing.
Even on a technical or niche blog, sounding academic is just plain uninteresting. Readers want to hear from real people, who have thoughts, feelings, and opinions on the facts they present. Before you post, read over your own words to see if your personality comes through at all. If it doesn’t, re-write.
III. Be Succinct
You’ll hear lots chatter about word counts. It should be more than 500 words. Definitely stay under 1200 words. You need enough time to really grab the readers’ attention, but be careful not to drone on so long that you lose them. While suggested word counts are a useful guideline, keep in mind that they are just that – a guideline.
What’s important is that you make your point effectively. Be clear. Be understandable. Use illustrations and examples, but not long, drawn-out stories. Google’s definition of succinct: briefly and clearly expressed.
IV. Break It Up
The longer the sentence, paragraph, or section of written text, the more likely you are to lose someone’s attention.
Write brief sentences. Keep paragraphs short with one main idea. Use headings and subheadings to divide sections/main ideas. Look at what you’ve written and ask yourself, “Is this appealing to the eye?”
V. It’s All In The Title
If your title is ambiguous, unclear, or ridiculously long, many readers will leave before they even begin reading! It’s fine to be witty and clever sometimes, but in the grand scheme of things, readers want to know what a post is about (and decide if it’s relevant for them) with those first few words.
Strategies 6-12 – It’s All About Using The Technology
VI. Related Posts
Say you wrote the most informative, step-by-step post on How to Grow Your Own Herb Garden, and your readers bookmark it for later reference. Don’t you want those readers to stick around and read other great posts you’ve written about herbs, gardening, or other do-it-yourself projects?
Providing links to related posts will draw readers further into your blog, and keep them around longer. This is simpler than ever, with related posts plug-ins available for virtually every blog hosting site.
VII. Top Posts
Attracting a new reader to one post is easy. Convincing that new reader to become a regular reader – not so easy. Readers don’t typically subscribe to a blog until they’ve encountered valuable content on the same blog several times. So your job is to show them where that great content is on their first visit!
Also an easy-to-install plug-in, a list of your top posts (those with the most page views and/or the highest number of comments), should be prominently displayed near the top of your page.
VIII. Free Resources
Have you ever agreed to an hour-long sales presentation of something that you had no intention of buying? Think vacuum sales pitch, time share tours, and the like. It’s hard to turn down an offer of free stuff! (We’re even willing to endure an hour of unpleasantness in order to get our freebies.)
What do you have to offer your readers as a resource? Perhaps a series of posts on a specific topic that can be made into a printable PDF. Maybe a handy list of links to sites that would be useful for your readers. Figure out what you have to offer, and then give it to your readers. You’ll keep them coming back for more!
Subscribers comprise your most loyal followers. They come back post after post, they comment, and they send their friends. Subscribers are invested in you and committed to you, and as such will stay on your site longer, reading with more depth.
So how can you get those who stop by to sign up?
Make your subscription box visible (above the fold, in newspaper speak) and easy to use. Allow your readers to subscribe in the way that’s most comfortable for them – email, RSS, Atom, following, Facebook, etc. Nobody likes being told what to do, so don’t tell your readers there’s only one way to get your content regularly.
X. Navigation Buttons
Most websites and blogs these days have a nice little menu across the top of the page. If you don’t, it’s one more easy plug-in to add! However, what happens when your reader gets to the end of your blog post and s/he wants to read more? Do you think s/he will scroll back up to the top of the page and use the menus to find more interesting fodder? Don’t count on it!
Make site navigation easy from wherever the reader lands on your page. While you don’t need to have the whole fancy menu at the bottom, smaller navigation links should be available. Your job is to make it as easy as possible for any reader to find and view more content.
XI. Be A Good Host(ess)
Think of blogging as being the host(ess) of a party. When you’re having a party, you try to greet people at the door, make small talk with a variety of people, get into deeper conversations with a few, and bid guests farewell when they leave.
If you have a high-traffic blog, it’s impossible to reply to every comment or email you receive. But make an intentional effort to do so with several for each blog post you write. Pay attention to those who comment regularly, and engage in conversation with them in the comments. Even those you are unable to interact with are more likely to stick around for after-dinner coffee if they see you engaging others.
XII. Be A Good Follower
Obviously, you can’t follow everyone who follows you. Nor would you want to. But for those blogs you do read, read thoroughly and leave thoughtful and thought-provoking comments. Not only will you earn the writer’s loyalty, but you will attract loyal followers of that blog over to your own tribe as well.
When it’s all said and done, gaining and keeping a blog following and engaging those readers is an art. It’s a combination of personality, persistence, talent, and technology. These 12 steps will help get you headed in the right direction. The talent part though, and the personality – that’s all up to you!
Krisca C. Te is part of the team that manages Home Loan Comparison, a complimentary home loan comparison service and personal finance blog based in Sydney, Australia. Before she joined HLF, she was an Associate in Deutsche Bank Group under Market and Instruments Control Services