In 21 Ways to Make Your Blog or Website Sticky I shared a long list of ways to help first time readers ‘stick’ to your site and become loyal readers. The comments on that post triggered a number of other ideas for making sticky sites that I want to add. Thanks to everyone who has contributed their experience – there’s some great conversation in the comments on the previous thread already.
I’m going to continue the numbering from the last post and so kick of this new list at #22.
22. Monitor Your Stats
Alex – made the observation in his comment that a key to site stickiness is monitoring your blog’s stats to see when spikes of traffic are occurring.
This is right on the money. A spike in traffic coming in from another blog or social media site can come and go in hours and unless you’re aware it is happening you’re not able to optimize the post and capture some of the traffic. Some of the general principles of good design, invitations to subscribe will capture some of it but you’ll not be able to tailor the post.
While you can’t be awake 24/7 it can be worthwhile to check in to your blog’s metrics quickly throughout the day to see if there’s any unusual activity.
23. Use Video
A number of readers (like Claudine) suggested using video as a technique to keep people on your blog for longer (and thereby increase their engagement with your site. This is very true.
I find that since adding video posts to my blog’s front page here at ProBlogger the ‘time on site’ statistic for my blog has increased by about 10-20%. This is not a massive increase and it goes up higher on days that I post new videos but it is significants because it not only means people are on your site longer it means that they are exposed to your branding, voice, ideas, advertisers, links to other content and invitations to subscribe for longer (most of which increase the chance of them remembering your blog and coming back).
Raag commented that he offers his readers an option to become members of his site and gives them free downloads when they do.
Membership isn’t something that I’ve experimented on my blogs (although as mentioned in the previous post I do have a ‘forum’ which has membership) but it makes sense that membership would increase reader engagement – or at least it would for those who actually join.
The only danger that I see with ‘membership’ is that if you require it to make comments or use basic features of your blog (like voting in polls or contacting you for example) then it puts a barrier between people lurking and participating in your site. While it’s good when people make the leap to ‘join’ it could also isolate and put off some readers.
Having said this – I think an option for membership for those who want more could really help a lot.
25. WP Sticky
I have not tested this one but 1 HappyBlogger suggestss that the WP Sticky plugin can be used to make a post into an announcement that stays at the top of your page.
This post could be some kind of an invitation to subscribe, list of top posts, welcome etc.
I’ve not used this type of thing and probably would prefer to target specific users with announcements but it could be something to try.
26. Niche Blogging – Staying On Topic
Jayaprakash makes a good point in comments about ‘specific content’ and reminded me that one of the benefits of building a blog focused upon a ‘niche’ topic is that it becomes a selling point for people to keep coming back for more.
When you have a blog that is unashamedly focused upon a particular topic you’ll attract people who share that same passion and interest in that topic.
As a result – staying on topic and promoting the fact that you’re focussed on a niche becomes important.
27. Create a Debate
One other technique that I should have included yesterday is that of ‘debates’.
I mentioned yesterday that interactive sites were ‘sticky’ but to extend that idea – creating areas for users to debate controversial topics can also be very sticky sections of a blog.
When you pick a topic that people feel passionate about and then invite them to have their say you’ll find that readers not only have their say once – but will quite often come back again to read what others have to say and then respond to that.
While you should be a little careful about creating debates that get too heated and personal (you can create a culture on your blog where this can hurt your community) a well managed debate can go for weeks and create a real interest for readers on both sides.
28. Write a Reference Page
Lastly – in my last post I observed a recurring comment from readers that went like these:
- “I’ve bookmarked this and plan to go back through this content with a checklist.” – Adam
- “I will be referring to this often for reminders.” – Bsigirho
- “I think I’ll be returning to this post again and again.” – SystemsThinker
It struck me as I read these comments that one of the best ways to build a sticky BLOG is to build a sticky POST – or a ‘reference post’ that people will come back to again and again over time.
When you build a comprehensive post that summarizes a lot of tips in the one place and that makes an impression you’ll find readers keep coming back to it because it is useful to them over time.
A brilliant example of this for me is Brian Clark’s 10 Sure-Fire Headline Formulas That Work which is a collection of 10 great templates for blog titles that I know many bloggers return to on a regular basis because it’s so useful to them on a daily basis. Create these kinds of evergreen posts that contain a lot of useful and applicable information and you’ll create a page that people just can’t stop visiting.