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How to Impress Blog Visitors Before they Start to Read

Posted By Guest Blogger 14th of February 2011 Miscellaneous Blog Tips 0 Comments

This guest post is by Darren of Findermind.com

Isn’t the best way to impress readers by providing great content? My answer would be yes, because most people come to your site for your content.

There are, however, some things you can do to impress and build credibility among your (first-time) readers even before they start to read what you have to say. How? Let me explain.

Provide quantitative instead of qualitative statements

People are not stupid. Messages like “we are the best blog providing blogging tips” won’t work. Your visitors are skeptical. They want evidence to show you’re the best blog for blogging tips. That’s why it’s important to provide quantitative instead of qualitative statements. Here are some examples of quantitative statements:

  • 116 new subscribers daily
  • over 56 new twitter followers every day
  • join over 170, 000 subscribers (this example’s from ProBlogger!).

In conversion rate optimization, using statements such as these is considered a best practice. Why? Because it consistently produces higher conversion rates.

There is, however, one good way to provide believable qualitative statements…

Let somebody else do the bragging for you

This concept is used a lot around products releases, where it’s known as “providing testimonials.” But, of course, you can use the same concept for your own website? If, for example, Darren mentioned something nice about your blog, why not showcase it to your readers? An example might be:

“Absolutely the most useful blog on WordPress Tips”—Darren Rowse, ProBlogger.com

As you can notice, this is a qualitative statement (without any specific evidence). People won’t believe you if you brag about yourself. “We’re the best, the greatest, the cheapest…” Sorry, that doesn’t work. Do you believe it when the author of a specific blog says they’re the best in their niche? One of the first questions that comes to mind after reading this is, “Why are you the cheapest, greatest, and best?”

There is some research, however, to support the claim that if you let another person do “the bragging” for you, then you can establish credibility quickly. In chapter 22 of his best-selling book 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to Be Persuasive, Dr. Robert Cialdini mentions a study he’s done with Jeffrey Pfeeffer (you can view the study here in PDF format).

The pair asked study participants to imagine themselves in the role of a chief editor for a particular book publisher. Their current job was dealing with a particular author. To get an impression of that author, they had to read an excerpts of a negotiation for a sizable book advance. The results showed that the participants rated the author more favorably in every area when his bragging was done by his manager, than in those areas where the author bragged about himself.

If you mention a quote from someone else (like in the above ProBlogger example), then it’s best to put it above the fold—next to your logo, for example. There’s often a lot of empty space there, and some people use that for ads, but you can use it for building credibility among first-time visitors.

Put a universal Like button on your blog

How to Impress Blog Visitors Before they Start to Read

The above screen shot is from Mashable.com. At the top of their sidebar, they display a universal Like button which is visible on every post and every page.

This can communicte significant social proof, and has one big advantage: it’s very easy to click on. Also, it’s very easy to locate—more on that later.

Why use this instead of the Facebook social plugin? After all, Problogger does:

How to Impress Blog Visitors Before they Start to Read

The answer is that the Facebook social plugin has several disadvantages :

  • It has to be placed below the fold and in the sidebar. Space above the fold is most commonly used for ads.
  • The Facebook Like button is a lot harder to find, with so many elements competing for users’ attention. I would estimate that the single Like option on the universal button is at least three times easier to find because there’s a number next to it, and eyetracking studies tell us that people’s attention focuses on numbers (mostly because they are an indicator of facts, and people love to read facts online).
  • Why would I like to “Find the Blog on Facebook” if I’m already on the blog? That instruction simply doesn’t make sense. It’s not one of the things I want to do. The thing I want to do while on a blog is read its content, and if it’s good, I can either like it or not. As such, a simple Like button is more relevant to users’ intentions.

The universal Like button creates credibility very quickly. Everyone’s on Facebook. By seeing your Like button—and the number of people who like your blog—visitors will understand that there are real people reading your blog. This further establishes social proof: the bigger the number of people who Like your blog, the better.

When to apply these principles … and when to ignore them

Are these principles applicable to all blogs? No. It  all depends on what you blog is about, and who’s in your audience. For example, I blog about people search, and I can’t really apply these principles to great effect, because I can’t built a loyal audience. My audience members’ goals are pretty short-term: they are looking for a person’s details, and once they find that information, they’re gone.

But I would recommend these principles to owners of blogs that have a potential to build long-term audience relationships, like people trying to build a more successful blog, people trying to make money online, people trying to save money, and so on. I would recommend these principles for people trying to build a loyal audience—and I’m pretty most of you are doing that.

What other techniques have you used to impress visitors to your blog as soon as they arrive? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!

Darren loves to do guest posts on blogging/social media. His current project involves teaching people how to use social media to successfully re-unite with friends and family members. If you ever wanted to do that, start by reading this article, titled 25 Free People Search Engines to Find Anyone. Good luck!

About Guest Blogger
This post was written by a guest contributor. Please see their details in the post above.
  1. I have recently tested the social proof “join over 170,000 subscribers” and discovered that it lowered the conversion rate for my opt-in form. In my case, it wasn’t 170,000, but it was over 15,000. So, don’t take the best-practices to heart. You have to test everything.

    • I guess it comes down to letting someone else do the bragging for you. Like you’ve said, we need to test everything but most importantly, you need to know your audience. This is really important. These best practices will definitely work for some but not for all audiences.

    • Darre says: 02/15/2011 at 1:25 am

      Maybe it’s because you put it too much, what about testing 50.000 for example?

  2. The first point won’t work for new blogs, they just don’t have anything to really offer as they don’t have the numbers. Even smaller blogs who have tight niches and very well with a smaller following won’t benefit from it. I guess that part is for blogs who have decent numbers to show off.

    I do agree with Facebook like part. I just added it to my blog, simple and hassle free. Just hit like.


    • Darre says: 02/15/2011 at 1:26 am

      You have, actually. If you’ve had X years experience in a particular area, mention that.

      Say “5 years experience in SEO”, not “We’re the best company for SEO”.

      The principles apply no matter whether you’re small or big blog.

    • Good tips for social proofing. And my question was exactly what Viktor addressed. When you are just starting a blog, you don’t have these numbers to show.

      Other than providing helpful, relevant content, what else can you do?

      Thank you – Theresa

  3. Hopefully about to impress the heck out of my tiny readership and get a sizeable chunk of my ‘target audience’ reading. I’m having a giveaway, only a week since the birth of my first blog. The rule is to refer me to others before entering.
    And Im not pimping anything except future content. I’m probably being silly – but I start probloggers own 31 days to build a better blog course in just a couple of days – so my silly should be rectified there-after :)

  4. Thanks Darren for the post, my opinion on the Facebook Social plugin would be, when people are already on my website, they can show their support my liking my page, and thus gain updates on their facebook wall as well. Afterall, Facebook is about interactive between author and readers, so readers can communicate with readers in the facebook fans page too, instead of a single like button that people press and forget about it. For me, it is another platform like the RSS subscriber numbers too. I use both as I believe each of it has it’s own pros and cons, the like button is like what Darren shared on this post that, it convince other readers that this posts read and likes by many real people, thus increase the attraction to read on.
    Thanks for the post Darren. :D

  5. Impressive article Darren! Social proof I agree will definitely make people believe you and your blog in the first few seconds that they’re on it. I also agree with using the universal like although I don’t use it on my blog but it’s something I’ll consider.

    One thing I’d like to add though is the fact that your content is still the best form of acceptability and marketing. If you don’t put effort into your content which they say is king, no matter your social proof, you’ll still not be able to convert new readers. For me, my content is my voice and I put a lot of effort into creating each post because I don’t want people to come to my blog and be disappointed.

    Another thing is the appearance of the blog or site. I’m for guilty of this but I’m sure it’ll be corrected in the next few hours. The way your blog looks will definitely impact on the impression of your visitor. I hope I made sense! Enjoy your day!

  6. I reckon once my website starts getting enough subscribers and fans, I can add things like a FeedBurner count, Facebook ‘Face’ counter, and other such widgets. But not yet, I’m still a fledging, there’s a long way to go ;-)

  7. Big numbers and success doesn’t come over night. It takes time. Building content, building reader, and finding what kind of overall package that will attract them. It is more like finding the right kind of sugar water to bring the flies you want.

  8. I agree with Viktor that a blog which is quite new or a blog that hasn’t got enough numbers yet cannot display statistics. A universal FB like button is good, but I really doubt the usefulness of this FB liking.

    Anyways thanks for the nice post Darren.


  9. Hi Darren,

    I don’t do any of those things. But I do some guest writing, and prominently these as social proof. Plus, my site is nicely designed which makes it look different/special by itself.

    I think sometimes trying to show how many people love you actually lowers your professionalism. I don’t feel the need to convince anyone of anything anymore. That alone can make me stand out.

    Just some thoughts.


    • Of-course showing figure that how many people love your blog is convincing the readers but it is need to impress them to come again to ur blog with such kind of plugins(facebook like).

  10. Thanks Darren for this post.

    I must say that I also agree with Viktor Nagornyy. When you first stat a blog … you have little to offer in terms of numbers.

    That said, the idea is to keep at it and eventually get those glowing numbers.


  11. This is great but I think it’s pretty hard to provide quantitative statements if you’re a new blogger. I mean, a new blogger has nothing to “show off” except for the content they provide.

    Any suggestions on what type of “social proof” a new blogger can come up with?

  12. Thanks for the universal Like button tip, good advice and analysis!

    Showing the number of subscribers and tweets would seem like common sense, and implies (as other commenters have pointed out) that if your site has a low subscriber count then you should not show it. I’ve seen recommendations not to display the subscriber count until it is greater than 1000.

    However, objective studies often defy our common-sense first impressions. Dan Zarrella did a study on tweet counters and subscriber numbers and the results were surprising –

    I think the implication of this study coupled with the advice above would be that while high numbers do influence first impressions, in the end it will come down to the quality of the content/post that will get someone to click on a Subscribe or Retweet button.

    Of course, it helps to ask them to subscribe and retweet!

  13. These are some great tips, man. Got me making some modifs on my site, and I’m quite content with that.

  14. I do agree that people are looking for the numbers, but what to do when you just started blogging? New bloggers must attract the visitors with eyecatching titles only I guess.

    Thanks for sharing,


    • A common refrain here is that new blogs shouldn’t show off their small numbers. But think about this: If Wouldn’t you rather know that there are 8 people out there who like X blog instead of assuming (guessing) that there are 0 readers of the blog? You see this advice for comments all the time. Just get one and it will show that the article is worth someone’s time. Just knowing that someone likes a blog enough to comment or find and click a like button is evidence that there is something there, even if it’s only a handful of people. Social proof is a snowball and, unfortunately, you have to start with a handful of snow.

  15. Nice work, I have seen an increase in “likes” since I’ve plugged the Facebook box on my news page!…


    David Edwards

  16. newbie but always search it new information thanks for sharing ,I don’t have still a PROFITABLE blog but try every day.

  17. The title sounds much more like, ‘The importance of social proof on your blog’ all in all, good article.
    Things such as design can help you- the reader determines whether they’re dealing with people who know what they are doing or some rip offs- one thing is, we all have different tastes in design

  18. Oh, I wish you wouldn’t of mentioned the Facebook info for social proofing. I’ve been using it myself and telling clients about the social proofing tactic for awhile now as an insider.

    The best part of using Facebook for social proofing is that it doesn’t require a mass amount of followers. It can display photos of actual people and so having only 5 real people likes can serve the purpose of making the website seem authoritative.

    I’d say that you should be able to find at least 5 of your friends to like your own website.

    Going on with Facebook, I use both the like button and facebook like box. There is an seo advantage of having the like button for each page (at least in my opinion). In addition, you can admin those pages and filter those users into your main fan page AND use it as a way to provide additional content to those users who are interested in that particular topic.

  19. These don’t really affect me. I make my money from content ads, and most of my traffic for my sites are from Search.

  20. You made an interesting point about social media plugins. Many services provide buttons, boxes and life widgets. They occupy valuable space, but often sit in the wrong spot. To find a place for them at all can sometimes be a hard decision. I also agree with the second comment above, it doesn’t make much sense to show off numbers on smaller niche blogs. Providing a Like and Tweet button is nevertheless an attractive option for homepages. Everything else can be placed on the post site itself.

  21. Nice tips Darren, However the number promoting tips only can benefits those sites that already well establish and have good traffic flow. I agree with you about facebook’s “Like” button, good branding tool. Thanks for sharing.

  22. Nice information. These tips would really useful for novice blogger like me. Initially the content is the king..if only the contents are good and original..the visitors will click on the like button. But this will take sometime.

  23. Top post and some great points you covered. It is worth noting that picking out your impressive numbers over your weaker ones works more effectively e.g. 2000+ Twitter followers etc. I think it’s also cool to combine your numbers such as Twitter, Facebook and RSS and giving a greater total number of subscribers in the header. Great tips again and thanks for sharing.

  24. With all due respect, and this is said to be helpful and not abrasive, but I’d encourage this guest poster to reconsider the use of Adsense on his site. IMHO, the placement of that huge adsense block works counterproductive to your 3rd sentence:

    “some things you can do to impress and build credibility among your (first-time) readers even before they start to read what you have to say.”

    As a first time reader, I must say, I was immediately turned off. Rather than just fade off into cyberspace, I really had wanted to let you know what tons of people are probably seeing, yet few are commenting on.

    Instead, have you considered integrating a sublte “resources page” that you can monetize? When you use Google Adsense, especially on a personal blog, and positioned so high above the fold, you are begging for people to click away…short term profit, of course, but it doesn’t nothing to foster and reinforce a personal brand. Based on your “about” page, I’d have to believe that your goal is to get people to read your writing…and, the whole intent of guest posting “should be” to gain more visitors to your blog that you can develop a relationship with.

    Google Adsense, IMHO, is working counterproductive to that.

  25. Great words as always.

  26. Thank you for the great article. It makes a lot of sense and I get working on that right away!

  27. I think quality content has and always will be the number one way to impress visitors when they first arrive. That and a clean or interesting looking design. If either of those are lacking you can pretty well guarantee that people won’t come back. I am also thinking of developing a personalized video greeting that pops up when a person enters, so I can sing that person a song and make them feel all welcome and cheerful – but I’m still working through the details… Chiefly among them, my distasteful singing voice.

  28. Thanks for these tips.It is still very early days for my site, and none of these are things I would have thought of utilising for myself. I am not there for bragging yet, and visitors are still pretty low, but starting to get a few positive comments so maybe a like button could be useful.

  29. I dont think its easy for small and new blogger’s. Darren constantly working hardly and then he make a such great blog. Anyway good post.

  30. Great tips! I just added my “whole blog” Like button… it looks a little lonely now, but I have faith! :P I still need to work on the qualitative information – noted and commited. Thank you!

  31. Very informative post…thank you. When promoting our blog, we all need to be reminded to include statistics that can easily be verified, as third party endorsements are always more believable than when we toot our own horn. Great reminders about social media buttons, as in the Like vs. the Facebook button. Thank you for a very informative post!

  32. I just figured out the universal like button thing about a week ago — really accidentally — when moving some php around on posts. Now I have a string of universal like buttons across the top of the home page.

    If anyone wants help setting those up, just contact me. (And feel free to like my blog while you’re there. ;) ) It’s pretty simple and mostly a copy/paste of the correct code.

  33. There are several wordpress plugins for putting the facebook ‘like’, and even allowing people to comment using their facebook acoount.

    I’ve started using ‘Facebook Comments for WordPress’, which is pretty good- puts a ‘like’ button, and the ability for them to comment with their facebook account if logged in. The only problem is then it shows the facbook comment box and the standard box.

    Seems to work well otherwise!

  34. I am a marketing major college student, 21, and I have just started blogging. It is interesting how you address the situation of “first impressions” when creating a blog. Indeed, numbers matter! For one of my classes, we just created a blog, called “The Remarketables @ http://www.theremarketables.com. We spent a considerable amount of time coming up with the name for the blog, the look of it, and we started blogging away about 3 weeks ago! However, I agree that as marketers, we are NEEDED of people to “brag” for us. The bloggers community. Especially when talking about a new blog. We’ll see how the experience of blogging goes for this blog we created in my class.

    Also, very interesting comments about the FB pluggins. Specifically this: The Facebook Like button is a lot harder to find, with so many elements competing for users’ attention. Sometimes, it gets really annoying when there are SO many elements on the page (although sometimes there are statistics such as how many likes or comments). How is this effective? How is this appealing, even?

    Thank you for the great information provided to this blog. If you want to check out/ or respond to this post please go to http://www.theremarketables.com.


  35. Well I ‘been having “like” button for long time, but prolly I did or place it wrongly as I still have no much respond tho I have daily visitors. Anyways, Thank you for sharing your ideas with us.

  36. Want to look in to the FB liking/Comment facility but not sure if it’s available on blogspot!

    Great tips Darren and I’ll be sure to implement quite a few of them! :)

  37. Good reminder for me to implement a client review section on my site :)

  38. Thanks for the nice article. This will be really helpful for new bloggers. I will surely try to implement it.

  39. Great tips,
    Just got a few more things on my to-do list now.

  40. Great info, I’m going to be implementing what you’ve said in this post on my blog. I can totally see where this is going to help. Thanks again – Scott Zlateff

  41. Wow! Nice article and great tips.., This tips about social media marketing for blog! Thank you for a very informative post, Darren.

  42. I added the universal Facebook “like” button and it is already starting to get traction on my blog. I think it works well because it appears on the top of all my pages, not just my blog page and it lends credibility. Thanks so much.

  43. I have definitely bookmarked this site for further reading. There is so much useful information that it’ll be awhile before I get through it all. I am a newbie to the blogging and social networking world, with that said, the following question may annoy experienced bloggers, so forgive me, Are there tips as to what I should be doing daily for my blog? What about Facebook? I try to aim for 2 new posts a week, and as for Facebook, I try to comment once or twice a day.

    Thank you in advance for any insight!

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