Regular readers are the soul of a successful blog: besides the steady stream of page views and subscribers provided by regular readers, you are also assured of more backlinks, recommendations and commentary through building a loyal audience.
But how can you convert a casual visitor into a loyal reader? Make them feel welcome!
By making even the casual reader feel welcomed to your blog, you offer them an important incentive to return; they are more likely to remember your URL for future reference, subscribe to your feed or become another loyal reader of your work.
Here are seven subtle yet effective techniques which will ensure even the casual search-engine referral feels welcome when they visit your home on the web:
1. Help your readers find their way around
Your blog may have many posts and pages. To help your readers find the information they need, you should ensure they can easily navigate through your site.
Make sure links to your important pages are visible and easy to locate; provide links to popular articles and if possible add a search box near the top of the page (where a reader is most likely to look for it). Easy navigation makes your content easier to find and ensures visitors will stay on your site for longer. Poor navigation can drive visitors away: if they cannot easily find the content they are looking for, what point is there staying on your site any longer?
2. Ensure your blog has all the right pages
When new readers visit your blog, they may look for an “About” page to learn more about the site. If readers have questions or would like to offer feedback to the author, they would usually seek a “Contact” page.
A page for new visitors is a wonderful way of explaining your blog’s distinguishing features to those visiting for the first time and is a sure-fire way of making them feel welcome.
Even Blogger powered blogs can feature such pages by backdating a post and providing a link to this post from the header or sidebar section.
Such pages convince the casual reader that a blog’s author has made the effort to consider their needs. Does your blog feature all the right pages (and make them easy to find)?
3. Offer an easy means of contacting you!
While most blogs have comments enabled, there will be many times when a reader would like to contact you directly. This may be to offer feedback, point out a broken link or simply ask a question which is not covered in your posts.
Many blog authors use a visual representation of their email address to thwart email spam-bots. This is perfectly understandable: after all, who wants dozens of emails presenting unwanted pharmaceuticals landing in their inbox each day?
But unfortunately, this can present an obstacle to your readers. Not all readers will go the extra mile to open up their email client and type in the address they see on the screen. It’s far more welcoming to offer a contact form for readers to email you directly from your site, and in providing this, you needn’t give away your actual email address!
There are many free services which you could use to add a simple contact form to your blog. My personal favorite is Kontactr, which offers different form styles and has no limits of how many emails can be processed each month.
WordPress bloggers may prefer to use a plugin to create a contact form which is run from their own domain and features different customization options. In either case, your readers will feel more inclined to contact you directly if they don’t need to visit an external page or program to do so!
4. Reply to your comments and emails!
When readers take the time to leave a comment or send you an email, they will feel so much more welcomed (and inclined to return to your blog) if you offer them a reply!
As your blog develops and grows, it may become more difficult to offer a personal response to each and every comment and email you receive, though even a few words or a simple “Thank you” can go a long way and shows that you appreciate their interaction.
5. Satisfy your readers’ interests
Many new visitors will discover your blog through search engines or backlinks and land on a post page. After they have read this initial article, these visitors will likely do one of two things:
- Look for other articles of interest to them
<li>Leave your blog and browse elsewhere
It goes without saying that we would prefer visitors to stay on our own blogs, so how can we make them feel welcome and encourage them to stay?
The most effective way I have found is to offer links to related articles at the base of each post. One method is to write these links manually after the body of each post, though this can be quite time consuming.
If you use WordPress, you may want to try the Wasabi “Related Posts Plugin” which prints a list of related posts based on keywords and categories. Blogger users can use Hoctro’s Related Articles script which can be added directly to your Blogger template and returns entries based on the same label category.
Over time, it may be helpful to observe the search engine keywords which lead visitors to your site, and cater to these keyword searches in future posts.
6. Be Positive!
In my personal experience, I find that a positive attitude can have a great effect on making me feel welcome. I prefer to read blogs which are fun and enjoyable to read, offering content in a positive light.
One thing which really puts me off a blog is negativity. I’ve previously subscribed to some extremely well written blogs which over time have become increasingly negative and made me feel less and less inclined to continue reading. Criticism is fine and often needed, but should always be balanced with positivity. As the old saying goes, every dark cloud has a silver lining.
If you find yourself becoming more and more negative or critical in your blog posts, you will likely notice a drop in subscribers and daily readers. Instead, think of a way to turn this around: if you see a problem, don’t simply criticize it! Think of a way you can turn it around: try to see this in a new light, post a solution to the problem or write about a better alternative. Your readers will appreciate your for it, and you will undoubtedly gain a better reputation as a positive and welcoming author!
7. Be Yourself!
I love to read blogs where the author’s personality shines through the writing style. Even the most boring, technically orientated post can become a welcoming and interesting read with an infusion of personality!
Offer your personal opinion, share your experiences and enlighten your readers with your own unique perspective on your chosen subject. This technique will ensure each and every post you write is unique and stands out from the crowd; through your writing, readers will get to know you better and feel more like a welcomed friend than a stranger on the other end of a tangled web of wires!
Photo by MGShelton