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21 Ways to Make Your Blog or Website Sticky

Posted By Darren Rowse 18th of July 2008 Blog Promotion, Featured Posts 0 Comments

Does the traffic coming to your site come in a Yo-Yo like cycle of ups and downs that never really seems to go anywhere in the long run?Glue

Yesterday I wrote about a common problem that many bloggers face – spikes of traffic followed by flat-lines and promised a follow up post today on how to break this cycle by building ‘sticky’ sites.

My point yesterday was to encourage readers not to see spikes in traffic as the ultimate goal but as a stepping stone to ongoing growth.

What is a ‘Sticky’ Site?

A sticky website is one where a first time reader arrives and finds it difficult to leave.

Not because the site owner captures them in a ‘RickRoll’ or a series of windows asking them if they REALLY want to leave – but because something about the site motivates them to explore it further – and more importantly to make a decision to (and takes some steps to ensure that they) return again to it.

21 Techniques to Make Your Site Sticky

The following 21 techniques are ways that you can make your blog or website more sticky. They come from my own experience of blogging over the last 5 years. As a result of basing this on personal experience I’m going to show you quite a few examples of what I’ve done (after all i know my own sites best). I’d love you to add your tips and show examples of what you’ve done in comments below to make it a more useful resource for readers.

1. Make Your Invitations to Subscribe to your blog Prominent

One of the most important things to do is to have a prominent call to action for readers coming to your blog to subscribe to it.

In fact I’d recommend having more than one invitation – one prominent one above the fold and prominent in your sidebar or navigation area and then a second one below your post. This means that people are triggered to subscribe whether they have just arrived on your blog or if they’ve just finished reading a post (a ‘pause point‘).

This is what I do on my blogs and my tracking shows that both get a fairly even number of people using the two options.


By the way – if you’re not already subscribed to ProBlogger’s RSS feed – here it is!

2. Educate Readers about Your Subscription Methods

One of the most read posts here on ProBlogger is my ‘what is RSS‘ post which I have below my Subscription link. It’s there simply to educate readers on what RSS is and in doing so sell them a way to connect with my blog. Interestingly enough – quite a few other bloggers around the web now link to the page to educate their readers too.

Similarly – I occasionally will write a post on my blogs that invites new readers to subscribe. Sometimes I think we mistakenly assume that all of our readers have been with us for a long time and all know how to use our site – however many of your newer readers might not know the full story.

Here’s one of these posts that I ran on DPS last year. The day after I did this my RSS subscribers jumped considerably. It was just a matter of educating my newer readers of the blog on how they could connect better with it. You’ll also note that at the end of the post I asked readers to let me know how they follow the blog. This was for two reasons:

  • Firstly I wanted to involve older readers who already knew all the information in the post. It somehow seemed to make the post more relevant for them as it invited them to participate.
  • Secondly it was about social proof and showing newer readers how others used the site. I think the comments section reflected some of this.

3. Good Blog Design

I’ve always believed that a good blog design is an important part of helping readers to decide whether they’re going to hang around and track with your site over the long haul.

Readers make judgements about your site within seconds of arriving at it – if they see something cluttered and confusing they’ll be less likely to want to return.

Good design highlights your content, helps people navigate your site well and creates a good impression – and first impressions matter!

Keep your design simple, familiar and obvious and you’ll be on the road to a sticky site.

PS: A common mistake that I see bloggers making is to crowd out their content with too many ads above the fold. If a reader arrives at your site and has to scroll to see the content you’ll increase the numbers of people who simply hit the ‘back’ button on their browser.

4. On Site Branding

Work hard at building a brand that is attractive and draws people in.

First time readers should know what your blog is about at a first glance. Use your blog’s title, it’s design, taglines, post titles, about pages, logo and navigational elements to communicate what your blog is about.

Also – do something to differentiate the brand of your blog. It could be a logo, image, color scheme, blog name….

5. Make Your Blog Personal

One thing that I’ve seen a number of bloggers do really well over the last year or two is brand themselves well on their blog. While it’s not essential to have a blog that is centered around your personal brand I find that when you do add a personal touch to your blog that it can connect with readers in a powerful way.


The fact is that some readers are more interested in connecting with a person than a collection of content.

Adding your photo, writing in a personal tone, using video/audio and including personal details and stories of how you engage with your topic can give your blog personality which will draw some of your readers into a relationship with you.

6. When you get a rush of traffic to one particular post….

When the spikes in traffic come along you need to be ready to act (and act fast – because they can be momentary).

  • Add invitations to subscribe to your feed within your post. Something along the lines of ‘enjoy this post? Get more like it by subscribing to….’ can work really well.
  • It can also be worthwhile adding links at the end of your post to ‘further reading’ on posts that are getting lots of reader to them.
  • Sometimes when you get a spike it can even be worth writing a ‘welcome’ post. For example if I get a mention in a mainstream media publication that sends significant traffic I’ll often do a post that welcomes people but also gives them a ‘tour’ of the site (example).
  • Another clever move is to quickly write up a followup article to the one that is getting all the traffic. For example – if this post suddenly got a burst of traffic I could quickly write a post ’10 more ways to make your blog sticky’ and then add a link to that post at the end of this one (update: actually I wrote one called 7 more ways to make your blog sticky). This shows readers that you’ve got more to say on your topic than just one post. Every extra page view is a step closer to them subscribing (if the pages they view are good quality).

These ‘hot posts’ are really important to optimize (learn how to optimize popular posts).

7. Get Interactive

Getting someone to DO something on your blog means that they’ve invested something into your blog and increases the likelihood that they’ll return.

Interactive blogs are often also sticky ones. Interaction could include

  • Comments
  • Competitions
  • Polls
  • Projects and Memes

As a result it’s worth spending some time Learning how to get readers to comment on your blog – and exploring other ways to make your blog more interactive. Get your readers involved as much as you can!

The other bonus for ‘giveaways’, ‘special offers’ and ‘competitions’ is that when you do them regularly some readers will subscribe because they don’t want to miss out on future giveaways. The current competition might not interest them but they sure want to know when you do one in future.

8. Add a ‘subscribe to comments’ feature to your blog

This draws those who comment back to continue the conversation and increases the chances of them becoming loyal readers.

You’ll find that only some readers will ever use this – but even if just a few do you’ve had a win.


I have this enabled here at ProBlogger (I don’t have it on by default – those leaving comments have to choose to subscribe because I don’t want to inundate them with comments) and at any given time there are several hundred people subscribed to comments on posts. I use this subscribe to comments plugin to run mine.

PS: just be aware that if you get a lot of unmoderated comment spam it can be a little embarrassing to have this feature – I learned the hard way.

9. Respond to Comments

This is a particularly effective way to draw readers back to your blog – particularly in the early days when you don’t have a lot of readers commenting to follow up.

There are two main ways you can do this:

  • respond to comments with comments
  • respond to comments with emails to the comment leaver

Showing those that comment on your blog that you’re interacting with them can make a real impression and will often draw them back time and time again.

10. Offer alternative ways to subscribe

subscription-alternativesSome readers will respond well to your prominent invitation to subscribe via RSS (see #1 above) but others will be more open to connecting in other ways.

I generally offer three subscription methods:

  • RSS
  • Daily email updates (RSS to Email)
  • Weekly newsletter (summary of the blog from the last week plus some exclusive content)

More recently I’ve also been offering readers the ability to track with my blogs via Twitter and send my latest posts to my Twitter account via TweetBurner.

Why so many options? The answer is simply that each reader has their own systems in place to consume content and connect with websites – so offering a variety of methods increases the chances that you’ll be doing something that they are familiar with.

11. Promote social media connecting points

Similarly – some of your readers will respond very well to your invitations to connect on other social media sites.

For example I have some readers on DPS who are Facebook junkies. They refuse to subscribe via RSS or email but religiously read my blog by following my Facebook profile which pulls in my latest posts.

Another small group of readers here at ProBlogger follow this blog through Technorati’s favorites feature. While I prefer to read blogs using an rss reader like Google Reader – their rhythm of reading content revolves around Technorati. As a result I’m happy that I promoted my Technorati profile (you can favorite ProBlogger here).

While you might not see the sense in people following your blog in some of these social media sites others do and at the very least promoting them can potentially reinforce your brand.


12. Highlight Your Best Content

A great way to convince readers to become loyal is to get them reading more than one of your posts (especially if they are your best posts). You can do this by linking to other posts within your content but also suggesting further reading and ‘best of’ posts around your blog.

For example – here at ProBlogger on my front page the ‘best of ProBlogger’ section is one of the most clicked upon parts of my site. This small section of the site sends people deep within the blog to some of my best work – hopefully resulting in quite a few new loyal readers.
At DPS I have a small section on my sidebar called ‘Digital Photography Tips’ which is a list of ‘sneeze pages‘ (or compilation pages of my best posts in certain categories). Again – these are there simply to draw people deep into the site and get them viewing some of the best the site has to offer (and hopefully to convince them to subscribe).


13. Create Momentum With Your Content

AnticipationWhen you give readers a sense that you’re creating more content that they’ll want to read you give them a reason to subscribe.

For example when a reader reads the first part of a series of posts on a topic that they find useful you can count on them wanting to read the rest.

I wrote about this in a post on creating a sense of anticipation on your blog.

14. Consider Removing Dates on Old Posts

This one could be a little controversial but I find that when old posts are not dated that it doesn’t create a ‘oh this is old’ type reaction in your readers.

I’ve seen this numerous times here on ProBlogger where posts written back in 2005 have attracted comments like ‘this is old’ or ‘out of date tips’ – even when the content has been of a ‘timeless’ or evergreen nature.

Personally I think that you should consider the type of blog you have before doing this. For me it works on DPS where I’ve never had dates on posts – but not here at ProBlogger where I have a topic that is more time specific (I’ll write more on this topic in coming days).

15. Give Incentive to Subscribe

 IncentiveOver the last few days I’ve had a small competition going on Digital Photography School where I’m giving 3 subscribers to my newsletter there a copy of a great photography book.

1500 new subscribers later (and counting that small incentive is one of the best $50 I’ve ever spent.

Give away a book, free ebook or report, download or some other incentive to those subscribing to your blog’s feed or newsletter and you could give some readers the little extra incentive to connect that they needed.

It need not be anything expensive (or that costs you anything at all) – just make it a small bonus and see what impact that might have.

16. Keep Posting Frequency Up

One thing that I do as a blog reader deciding whether I’ll subscribe to a blog or not is to head to the home page and see how often they’ve updated recently.

There’s nothing more frustrating as a reader than to find some great content and be hungry for more only to find that the blogger hasn’t update in 3 months.

I don’t think you need to update every day – but something in the last week shows that your blog is up to date. You can also highlight this by showing your most recent posts somewhere in your sidebar.

17. Create an Engaging About Page

About-PageAnother thing that I often do when I go to a new blog is to look at it’s ‘about page‘.

I like to know who is behind a blog, what their goals for it are, how it started and other information about what the blogger is on about.

This is an opportunity to sell your blog to and make a connection with prospective readers who are going out of their way to find out more about you – so use it to tell your story and draw readers in to journey with you.

PS: whatever you do – don’t let your about page be the default about page that comes with your blog.

18. Add a Community Area or Forum

One of the best things that I ever did with my photography site was to add a forum.

I cannot express to you just how sticky that area of DPS is!

While readers come to the blog once a day to read new content – some of them come to the forum ALL DAY – racking up literally hundreds of page views a week.

Forums won’t attract all of your readers (I suspect they attract some personality types and not others) – but they will connect with some and help make your site a lot stickier.

19. Social Proof

Feedburner-Subscription-Conters-2Does your blog have readers already? If so (and even if it’s just a few) highlight this in any way that you can and you’ll show other first timers that they’re not the only one reading your blog.

People attract people and a site that is obviously being read by others will draw others into it.

This can be difficult in the early days of a blog when you don’t have a lot of activity – but as it builds show it off.

Highlight new comments, show subscriber numbers when you have them, quote readers comments, find a way to slip your stats into a post occassionally etc.

It’s a bit of a snowball effect – once you have readers they’ll bring others in.

One thing that I occassionally do at DPS on my subscribe page (a page dedicated to talking readers through 3 subscription options) is to not only highlight the options but to tell people how many people are using them. In this way those considering subscribing get a sense that they’re actually becoming a part of something that has momentum and thousands of others joining.

20. Target Readers with Specific Messages

Here are a few tools and plugins out there that enable you to present specific messages to certain readers coming to your blog based upon where they’ve arrived from and if they’ve been to your blog before.

  • LandingSites is a WP plugin that shows readers arriving from search engines related posts on the search term that they’ve searched for.
  • What Would Seth Godin Do is a plugin that welcomes new readers to your blog with a special message and invitation to subcribe.

Got any other plugins and tools for targeting readers with specific messages? Feel free to share them in comments below.

21. Sticky Content

Lastly (and most importantly in my mind) – the key to sticky sites is sticky content.

You can have the best designed site in the world with lots of the above features – but unless readers who come to it find something that connects and brings them life in some way – you’re unlikely to get them back tomorrow.

Writing engaging content needs to be your number one Priority.

What Have I Missed?

As I wrote this list the ideas just kept coming (I originally set out to write a list of 10 points… then 20…. then I just had to slip in one more) – but I’m sure there is more to say on the topic of sticky sites.

What would you add? What have you done on your site to add stickiness?

Looking forward to hearing your ideas in comments below.

PS: Welcome to StumbleUpon readers

This post has gone crazy on StumbleUpon today. If you’ve surfed in from there thanks for dropping by. If you’ve found this post helpful I’d appreciate you stumbling it. You might also find future posts on ProBlogger helpful – so don’t forget to subscribe (you know I had to do that on a post like this!)

Lastly – this post has led to some great conversation in comments below which has triggered a lot of other ideas for creating sticky blogs in my mind – so I’ve written a followup post – 7 More ways to make your blog sticky.

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
  1. i am a regular visitor to problogger. got great info from this article..thanks

    Latest Maldivian News

  2. Hi Darren,

    I’m going through my notes on your book with a fine-toothed comb, but this is an excellent addition to what you said. Thanks so much for all the help you’ve provided; now I just need some time to get it together.

  3. egbsystems123 says: 07/24/2008 at 11:51 am

    Awesome post Darren!!!!!!!!!1. keep it flowing

  4. Hey this was a great post Darren… I truly learned a lot from it.

  5. You missed a level of entertainment. I started blogging almost back in 2004, and then gave up. And recently started again–about four weeks ago. And yet in a matter of weeks, without any promotion the traffic is starting to build up. Even Google Optimizer Blog put a link to our site.

    So what caused good ol’ Google Blogs to get interested in us?

    The factor of entertainment.

    It’s what drives the viral factor that causes a You Tube Video to go ballistic. It’s what causes PR in newspapers and magazines too. People love entertainment. And they love education. And what really hits the sweet spot, is if you have edutainment.

    So when you look at this factor of edutainment, a rookie blog like ours, can step up to the plate, and get Google (and others to take a look)–purely on the basis of entertainment.

    Sure I’ve got a skill (cartoons) that is different from a lot of people, but there are lots of people who have different hidden skills that can quite easily be highlighted in a blog. For instance, David Pogue plays the piano and sings funny songs about technology. Well, maybe someone’s really good at origami. Another person may be really wonderful at sticking popcorn together.

    The point is entertainment.
    And education.

    Both together are dynamite.
    To see how Google got to our rookie website, go to:

    And of course, you can have fun looking at the rest of the posts as well. :)


  6. Its really amazing and very Useful way and surely they will help many bloggers around who are trying,
    Thanks Darren.

  7. Darren, thx for the excellent post

  8. how about one more way:

    Avoid the Google Slap

    I have a movie review site that has the ebb and flow from organic traffic. In fact our daily 300 just dropped to less than 50 (SERP traffic only). We still have no idea why this occasionally happens, but as far as we can tell ‘G’ is unhappy about something…and be damned if they have concise documentation ;)

  9. Hi and thanks for the new tips. I was referred by Codrut.

    I think between the two of you I can learn a great deal about blogging and internet marketing in general.

    With all the info, I still have a hard time focusing on what to do.

    There is just so much info. and strategies out there to choose from. Trail and error I guess.


    Trevor White

  10. Wow, Awesome tips. Thanks for sharing this wonderful tips.This would help bloggers like me. Thanks and keep it up.

  11. Yet another excellent post! Tks Darren and folks who have commented, your information is simply beneficial.

    Does anyone know which plugin supports the “What Next” feature in this blog?

    I was goggling about this feature and found some info here but it was kind of too technical for me

    When I apply it, my blog alignment esp. sidebar went off :(

    I’m sure there is a plugin? But I dont know how to look for it.


  12. What kind of glue to use for visitor sticky in blog, Wanna bought it ^_^

  13. Great post Darren. I’ll try to my blog soon

  14. Added. Nice work on this one. Btw, my blog is dofollow, stop by and grab a link. Bompa

  15. Nice one..It will help me …..

  16. just awesooooooooooomeeee!!!

  17. I am working on getting more traffic. I have to do some good SEOing. Thanks for the tips.

  18. A very good post Darren. Building traffic is very important for any website or blog. I say building and not generating for the same reasons you highlighted early in your post. Traffic builds slowly by steadily following some basic rules and seeing the whole thing to completion. One has to be patient. This cannot happen overnight.
    Another very important aspect of traffic building is SEO. With search engine optimization you can rely on search engines delivering visitors. This is hard work as well but everybody should do even some basic SEO on their site/blog

  19. Forums can make tumble weed look busy when you are starting out.

    Although I have some decent traffic – I am holding off on the forum until I have more readers and subscribers.

    Thanks for the tips though!

  20. Wow – this is such a powerful checklist. I know I’ll be spending a lot of time working on this. In my mind I consider the terms “sticky” and “building community” to be synonymous. A lot of these suggestions seem to do with making the reader feel welcomed.

  21. WOW. Yes, I shouted, but I am happy to find all these tips, and I will return.
    This is my first visit to blogher.com after registering my blog and now you have talked me into adding an rss feed.
    My brand new first book has its own blog (scrapbookofchristmasfirsts.blogspot.com), plus my own garden/book review blog so I have two blogs.
    Thanks for all this solid info.

  22. I came across this blog the other day and you got some great info here – thanks.

  23. True tips. Loved them.

    As said “First Impression is the last impression”. If you’ve build up a great blog with good and consistent design as well as helpful content, your visitors are more likely to stay and convert into readers.

  24. I am going to have to start following a lot of these. Like linking to my RSS feed after a post. Thanks, this must have taken awhile!

  25. Great tips.

    I will start to work in a subscribe to our rss link into posts that catch fire…excellent tip!

    That’s our problem, we have good traffic now. People regularly read and comment…but hardly any takers on our rss.

    Maybe your tip will help.


  26. Nice article Darren. I really liked your use of images throughout the post. That made the article even more interesting to read.

  27. I can use all the help I can get. I have been everywhere and I still don’t get the amount of traffic I want. I have Google ad that no one clicks on. I think I have some good content but I need a real web site like yours. Have great weekend!

  28. Great Post, I have pretty much implemented 99 percentile of what you have stated here. I shall go back and look at other components.

  29. Dear Darren,

    Heard you talk at Underground 2007 – a great talk and you have a great website. What is so interesting is how one can use your information with a subject so unrelated – ie natural horsecare……! Thank you so much. You have also really helped my two daughters (14years and 17years) with their graphic website – again a very different subject yet the foundations of communication are similar if not the same.

    Best wishes,

    Sarah Bell (UK)

  30. Thank you, these points are simple and obvious, though sometimes we tend to forget the simple and obvious.

    Thanks again Darren.

  31. I would say to all of these ideas that they are good ones. One thing I have found with my other two blogs that have reached over 20,000 subscribers each is that people seem to like everything simple. They really don’t wanna feel like you are trying to make them do something they don’t want to. A simple layout like this blog is perfect for allowing people to be comfortable while reading and commenting.

  32. Great post, really summed up a lot of things nicely together. You make it all sounds so easy,. NIce…

  33. I really like tip #14 “Consider Removing Dates on Old Posts”. I run a niche blog for Internet marketing and sales for automotive dealerships. I sometimes will go back into the archives of 3 years and comment on my older postings so that it shows on the front page under “Recent Comments”. This sometimes will spike additional comments for an older post, bringing it back to life. Removing the dates would be an added benefit when doing this.

  34. wow thanks for the great advice darren. Big post but full of great info

  35. Some great and helpful advice which will help me to take my new blog on to a higher level much quicker than I could have done by myself.

  36. Very nice post darran… points 13,14,17,18 are really good.
    Thanks a lot.

  37. really great tips darren. after going trough your last years “31 Days to Building a Better Blog” I find this your blog a really great place and one for small blogger to start when they do not know how to change their blog to make it better. I started to use some of the tips and hopefully they will work but at least I feel that the blog feels better thanks to the changes I made according to the advice at problogger.com after implementing some of the tips :-) good luck

  38. I learned this technique from Josh Anderson it is to split the content in to two parts and post part 1 and save part 2 for a later date this might increase the stickiness of a blog.

  39. It’s really good information for me to handle my blog.

  40. Idea given above are really great and answers some of my real worries. I will defenitely try to work upon the suggestions and methods and hope that it will work for me as it does for you.

  41. We made our blog a little ‘too sticky’ (if you catch our drift)

    so we had to tone it down ;-)

    Guess for some blogs, sticky means something entirely different :-D

  42. Some useful ideas. Indeed, raising stickiness or lowering bounce rate is not at all easy.

    Good content helps it seems, but then does good design. Actually, after I re-designed my blog, bounce rates fell, or rather stickiness increased – and this was something I wanted to achieve.

    I’m also using Google and YouTube video’s to keep people on-site, although the results are unclear.

    One thing you need to know is just what happens when people click on categories and comments links. Just what will they see? Will your video or other sticky content be missed.

    Understanding how people interact with your site can make it more attractive.

    My new design is a result of listening to my readers, who wanted both full posts and snippets, although I’ve been using the read more system to encourage people to dig deeper.

    I’ve also reduced ad clutter a bit on the home page, and my posts don’t have ads on them until they are several days old, thanks to a good WP plugin called Smart Ads – http://simply-basic.com/smart-ads-plugin

    Looking at the stickiness of individual posts can help you understand what goes down well, and what does not. The related posts feature should link to sticky posts from the past on the same subject, if possible, although setting this up can be complex.

    Like everything else, making your blog as effective as super glue is not easy – and blogs are often read and forgotten, I feel, unless you have something that engages the reader.

    I’m going to continue to experiment, until I achieve the holy grail of an overall bounce rate of 40 percent. Still, the road towards this is tough, and bouncy!

    And I’m going to think about removing dates from posts too – good idea indeed.

    Great post, great discussion.


  43. Wow darren.tnx for this post of yours.i,we really learn a lot

  44. This is so a perfect post right now – thanks so much for putting this together.

  45. thanks for the tips!

    i will try to make it work for me…

    visit my page..


  46. Thank you for the awesome tips. I visit your site often and think this is one of your best posts. I will use this to help me with my blog

  47. Great post, but it would have been helpful to include information or a link to places that explain how to do these things. Like putting a subscribe link at the bottom of each of your posts, for instance.

  48. Love this post Darren, I’ve already started implementing these systems into my blog, but mine is my own coded system, so I can customise it exactly to my specification.

  49. Great post Darren. Never seen a more comprehensive post than this one in recent times.

  50. Very interesting tips.
    I think one of the most effective points are the sneeze pages. Did you do this manuell or is there a plugin für this?
    Thanks, and sorry for my bad english

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