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5 Ways To Optimize Your Blog and Capture More Repeat Visitors

Posted By Darren Rowse 8th of October 2008 Miscellaneous Blog Tips 0 Comments

Today Rich Page shares five tips on how to optimize websites to capture repeat readers.

You may be a blogger that thinks they have a pretty popular and well created blog – if so, well done. But remember every blog is a work a progress, and there is always room for improvement. Here are 5 great ways to help optimize and improve your website, and inspire new visitors to become repeat visitors:

1: Track your Internal Search Results

One of the easiest ways to gain insight into your blog and improve it is to track your internal search results. You can easily do this using Google Analytics (learn how to track this), or use this cool wordpress plugin. It’s very important to identify your top searched keywords – it helps you identify what’s popular with your visitors (write more content relating to these), and also, just as importantly, what visitors are failing to find on your blog (look for keyword searches that have zero results and create a post about them – as long as you can make it relevant to your blog). The more relevant internal search results the user finds, then the more chances of them signing up to your feed and coming back for more!

2: Reduce the Bounce Rate of your Articles

The best way to stop someone from leaving immediately after reading your blog articles (i.e. bouncing) is to expose them to as much of your blog’s great content as possible, or by getting them to sign up to your feed. And what is the best way to do this? Immediately after the visitor is done reading the blog entry they arrived at (and remember, most visitors don’t arrive at your homepage – they get deep linked in from search engines or other blogs), at the bottom of the article place prominent text links to subscribe and links to read related content (problogger.com actually does a great job of this). Just don’t fail here and bury these important links away on the right hand column, or at the bottom of your comments, like I see so often.

3: Survey and Learn from Your Website Visitors

What’s another great way to improve your blog? This one is simple, yet many blog owners don’t do it – you need gain feedback from your visitors! Simply sign up for a free survey tool like 4Q, and get to know your visitors better. It allows you to ask your visitors questions in the form of a non-obtrusive pop-up survey. Here are the 3 main questions you need to ask your visitors in order to gain insight for optimizing your blog:

  • What was the reason you came to this blog?
  • Did you find what you were looking for?
  • What else would you like to see at this blog?

Asking these questions allows you to gain some real insight into your visitors and their needs – and remember, a blog that doesn’t meet the needs of visitors could spend all the money in the world to get new traffic, but it wouldn’t get many repeat visits (way cheaper) because the visitors aren’t finding what they want. And don’t just survey your visitors – act on what you find! It can often be very revealing…

4: Build a Community into your Blog

Want to get as many repeat visits as possible, without having to rely on RSS feeds to pull visitors back? Then build a community for your blog, and engage not only yourself with your readers, but allow your readers to engage with each other. This is particularly a great idea if you are niche blogger and you have a small but captive audience. There are a number of ways to create this community for your blog – the basic way is to setup and install ‘MyBlogLog‘ or ‘BuddyPress‘ as a widget on your blog. The more advanced way to build a community is to create a social network around your blog using Ning or KickApps. Both of these are free and allow you to fully customize, brand and create your own community, and use your own blog feed as a main ingredient of the community. Win-win situation for you and your readers!

5: Setup Goals and Begin Testing to Improve Them

Lastly, one of the most important things to remember for blogging success is to set goals and try and beat them. And for blogs, your goal is likely to get as many readers as possible. But be more specific and actionable. For example set a weekly goal for new readers, i.e. 100 new subscribers per week. Then, test elements of your website (using Google Website Optimizer) to try and improve your subscribers and reach your goals. One of the best things to test is the ‘subscription’ area, usually found to the top right of your blog – where your RSS feed links and newsletter signup form usually is. Test different calls to actions, different images and different copy. See which one drives the most goal conversions. And for the goal conversion to work, you will need to tag your thanks page with tracking code (which is easily done if you use AWeber to manager your feed readers). Here is a cool plugin to help you use Google Website Optimizer on your blog. Also, if you are selling a product or giving away something like an ebook on your blog, you can track that as a goal and test to improve sign up rates.

So there we have it. And remember, don’t ever think your blog is ‘done’ – always keep striving to improve your blog. If you don’t, before you know it, a competitor will appear out of nowhere and start stealing away your beloved visitors. For more ideas on how to help improve your blog (and websites in general), and to find ways to stop wasting so much money on online marketing, consider checking out my new free ebook all about this.

So, what are you waiting for? Use these tips and start improving your blog right now – and who knows, it may end up being as successful as ProBlogger one day!

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, Google+ and LinkedIn.
Comments
  1. I completely agree with #5 … I believe goals are the single most useful thing you can implement in your blogging strategy. If you don’t have 3-4 goals that you want to accomplish every single day, then you aren’t serious about success in blogging.

    #2 is something I desperately need to work on. With 80% of my readers on a daily basis being new, there’s no reason why I can’t do some simple things to improve retention.

    Very good list.

  2. The Google Website Optimizer link should be http://www.google.com/websiteoptimizer

  3. Decent article.

    Although I’ve been aware of it, I’ve never actually bothered to track internal searches. This has been a silly move on my part, so thanks for the reminder to get this done.

  4. Building a community is what you should aim for. People are more likely to visit again because their is participation taking place.

  5. Fairly decent indeed. I find enticing visitors to subscribe to my RSS feed the most difficult thing to do since I started blogging.

    Perhaps a free ebook would help as mentioned in one of the previous posts here in ProBlogger.

  6. Good tips. I especially liked the one about reducing the bounce rate of your articles…it’s easy to think that visitors go to the homepage first, when in fact they probably don’t. Thanks!

  7. Hello Riche

    those are some really useful and practical tips I perticularly liked point 4: Build a Community into your Blog,

    i would like to add point
    6: Analyz your referal and search engine traffic
    which search term brings more traffic, which types of post receives most comments and back link. which is your top landing page and exit page, all these analysis will give you batter idea about your visitor trend, which is very useful while writing your next blog post

  8. Good read, although I suggest waiting till you have a decent following before you start a community. MyBloglog isn’t bad though for those just starting out.

  9. Ya Armen. Tacking internal searches seems like a very good way of understanding the people who visit your site.

    Thank you Rich Page.

  10. More great ideas. It is easy to “forget” things you really should do and reading articles like this acts as a good reminder.

    I particularly like your suggestion to set up targets and test different calls to action. I am also going to look at the apps you suggest.

    You are bob on about a blog never being finished! I always seem to be chasing my tail at the moment…

  11. Thanks for the links to the plugins! My goal over the next few weeks is to reduce my bounce rate by making it easier for new readers to find related content.

    Does anyone have a recommendation for a good related posts plugin for WordPress? I am using YARPP, and while I am happy with the functionality, I just don’t care for the way it looks.

    Thanks!

  12. another Great post from Great Blogger…One thing I would Like to ask is: would you like to write more this Rss Subscription Part, i would love to increase my Feed count but they just leave away….

  13. An excellent tip for setting up search tracking in Google Analytics that I wasn’t previously aware of. Thanks, every little bit helps.

  14. I will definitely have a look at the Internal Search Results. Although I knew about this feature, I never used it. Sometimes I have other priorities an as a result optimizing my website is postponed.

  15. Very cool tips, a bit different than the same old stuff I’ve heard before. I like the idea of tracking your internal search results, I’m going to have to give that a try.

  16. Maxblogpress has a great free wordpress plugin called psychic search, which shows you the search terms everyone is using to find your blog in the search engines, as well as the terms searched for in your blog search box.

    Great article!

  17. Nice list, going to check into that social network idea now. Thought I would let you know that the 4Q link is broken.

    I did a google search and found it, you put:

    iperceptions.4q.com

    Instead of:

    4q.iperceptions.com/

    :-)

  18. The Google Analytics is a little scary. Having to provide my phone number and the agreement states some things about charges and fees. Think I’ll pass on that one.

  19. The build community party is not easy to master, may be you can talk more about it on your next post?

  20. Thank you for some good reminders. I track external keyword searches, but I hadn’t considered internal. Great idea! I’m checking out Ning this morning, too, and the Google tool you cited (I see someone else already fixed the link). Thanks!

    BTW, thank you to your Twitterfeed for reminding me to come over here! I just started actively using Twitter yesterday and I’m amazed at how quickly I’m getting results!
    ~Angela :-)

  21. Tracy (and others) I have just installed this WordPress plugin which seems to be working quite nicely

    http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/wordpress-23-related-posts-plugin/

    I did need to do a bit of CSS coding to make it fit in to my theme though…

  22. Interesting article and some useful ideas – thanks. I’m going to try out the internal search plug in and also the optimiser one.

    @Doug C – I haven’t had any problems with Google Analytics – I think it’s a useful tool. Though I think I now prefer the WordPress Stats plugin – maybe you could check that one out?

  23. Thanks for the tip on tracking internal search results. I often see search impressions in my Adsense reports, and have wondered what it is people were searching for.

  24. Some great advice, one or two i have yet to impliment.

    Your link in #3 tip is incorrect , you have an extra dot.behind the 4.
    It should read
    http://iperceptions4q.com/

    I suppose having the right template is important as well to fit all these plugins into your blog. Intergrating Google anylitics is a must.

    Great reading as per usual,,

  25. I have been doing none of these suggestions, and though my blog is relatively new, it could use every one of them.

    Which brings me to my question: How do these tips work with new, lower traffic blogs? Particularly the community suggestion.

    Thanks for another great post!

  26. There are so many things to do to make your blog work well it is almost impossible to do them all. I right now I am focusing on commenting, link building, link boosting, and social networking.

    Next I move on to decreasing bounce rate and doing a better job targeting keywords. If anybody ever believe blogging was a part time activity or still does they are out of their mind.

  27. Thanks for the great info! I especially enjoy all the links to different widgets and optimizers. Those will come in handy big time.

  28. Is there a way I can display a short little survey ONLY to the visitors who come from a Google search?

  29. I especially liked the idea about building a community. I’ll definitely be keeping that in mind as my readership grows. The blog is new right now, so don’t want to add it at this point.

  30. I’ll have to check into the 4Q survey site. I like that it’s a popup and non intrusive. I’ve been using surveymonkey.com and like it though you have to have your visitor click away to a survey. And every extra click loses a percentage of your visitors.

    Since you can see what keywords people find you in using google analytics what is the added value of using the psychic search plugin, Steven?

  31. I think #2 is what helped me the most. I started placing the “related posts” links at the bottom of the posts right before the comments. That way if the reader likes a certain post, they can immediately click a link to see another one just like it.

    Ever since adding a “Post of the Week” section on my homepage, I have also gotten more repeat visitors. It allows me to show off some of the best posts instead of letting them get buried down in the archives where some visitors might now find them.

    Great tips like always!

  32. If you have an online store, what is the best way to leverage a blog to increase your conversion rate at shortest possible time?

  33. Some really great points. I would also like to add empathizing with your readers because when you empathize with them they can easily relate to you and want to read your content on a regular basis.

  34. Thanks for the kind words about my post! I am glad so many of you have found it useful.

    @Tim: There is no cheap solution to show surveys to only certain users. I know 4Q or SurveyMonkey doesn’t allow it. I think Omniture’s Site Survey tool might have this capability, but its not cheap.

    @Samantha:The best way to leverage your blog would be to create relevant content in regards to what you are selling, without being to salesy. Provide value to your potential visitors, with subtle links to your online store, and you should be on your way to increasing your conversion rate.

    Oh and sorry for the few typos in the link URLs in this post!

  35. Thanks, Rich! There’s so much work to do, but I’m encouraged that I’ve seen progress. One day at a time, right?

  36. Useful article, thanks. What about email subscribers? Aren’t they useful to gain users who don’t use RSS?

  37. Useful, I agree with point 2 and 3.

    Thanks a lot Rich Page! It really helped a lot.

  38. i agree the point 2, really the blogger should not allow its user to quit immediately, we should make the visitor to roam around the pages with related information focusing towards the blogs theme.

    first i will add a side post link banner to my blog ;-)

  39. Trying to work out that analytics site search. I hate the way that Google explains things. They have the worst tech writers.

  40. 50000 readers!!!! i can not believe. i have just 6, most of them are robots….

  41. Another interesting guest post! And yes, higher bounce rate is bad for a blog. That is why I think many have left Entrecard.

    Anyway, building a good community to one’s blog is a good idea and showing it to your readers through a widget can really be inviting. However, I was wondering why Rich choose Mybloglog instead of BlogCatalog as I found it more useful.

    But with all due respect to Mr. Page, I think you overlooked another URL. Darren’ blog is dot Net and not dot Com.

  42. Great post! I had been putting related posts at the end of each article, but stopped for some reason.

    The survey tool sounds great. I will have to check it out.

    Thanks!
    -HIB

  43. Great tips. As a new blogger, I realize #2 is hard to put in practice with the Blogger platform…

  44. Is it possible to track RSS subscribers or viewers from Google Analyitics?

  45. Great Post, these point are really useful

  46. Rich is right on point. Litterally by just going to my list of Keywords people entered and found the site with I’ve been able to help myself greatly.

    One of my favorate new dork activities is to create articles based on the high bounce keywords. Generating new content all the time with changing of the trends and providing something for those people who didn’t like me last time, to get a second chance.

    -J

  47. I’ve noticed a lot of blogs are using surveys these days.. I wonder if this really is helping, or if it is actually annoying the people who visit the site and get hit with a pop-up survey.

  48. Love the tips. I seem to have a decent amount of traffic, but no one is commenting. I would love to hear suggestions.

    Thanks for the thoughts.

  49. @Mrs S – I would love to use WP, but I am on Blogger. The only reason I haven’t moved is because I would not be able to use my layout design I have now on WP.

  50. @Coolproducts – Pop-ups can get annoying, but you could probably control pop-ups by using cookies to ensure that site visitors don’t get repeated pop-ups and you can probably run campaigns periodically rather then all the time requesting surveys.

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