One of the semi regular tasks that I set myself is to analyze the questions that readers are asking to find my blogs. I use a simple method that I’ve outlined previously that utilizes 103bees metrics.
Today it struck me afresh just how many of the visitors coming into my blogs are looking for the answers to incredibly simple questions.
People don’t arrive at ProBlogger having asked about the complexities of blogging – they come asking ‘what is a blog’ or ‘how to start a blog’.
Sometimes as bloggers there it feels like there is a pressure to need to come up with complex and deep posts on our topic of interest. While there’s nothing wrong with this type of post (and a blogger does need to extend themselves into deeper issues to really serve their readership) it’s worth remembering that sometimes it’s the simple post that will serve you best when it comes to finding new readers via the search engines (and via other sources of traffic also).
“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication” – Leonardo DaVinci
Good point. Many of my readers come asking for “How to cancel PeoplePC”, which is simple yet may give a lot of people headaches. I doubt I ever thought when I was writing that post that I would get most of the traffic [on many days] to such a query.
103bees is a very good tool indeed, making it easier to understand how people arrive at your site by searching for questions. Otherwise, it can be hard going through all the keywords in your log reports. I guess maybe things are changing from prioritizing specific keywords to prioritizing entire posts and groups of words?
I’ve been using HitTail to remind me of those simple questions, but 103bees looks much better… Thanks for the tip.
I find myself straying away from bloggers who only post very deep and “heavy” posts. I like to read posts where I can feel connected to the blogger. Often when I get up in the morning and have my coffee and log onto a bloggers website, I want something simple and straight forward. *shrugs* Consistency is good..but so is variety.
Thanks for reminding me that I don’t have to know everything and to just keep it simple! I’m starting up a new “blogging for beginners” site and I started to realize I was headed for technology overload. This post is just a great reminder that there are tons of people who are looking for simple, quality content.
When you’ve been working on websites for a long time you forget how little the average user knows. Like speaking to my father and trying to convince him that you can use a browser other than what is preinstalled (IE)
I never quite get this blog traffic thing there are days when there are so many hits and then slow days etc. Post of the time it seems when people find you they keep coming back and though I have looked at how to use the tags to draw the readers, its all kind of strange. I have three blogs one has been on a year and has never had a hit, one thousands of hits, and one kind of just steady, and then a friend as one and you would think he would get random hits but nothing. i don’t find linking to other programs like technorati helped at all.
“i don’t find linking to other programs like technorati helped at all.”
Yes, I really agree with that statement as well. Technorati is really overrated as being a huge traffic-tool unless you run a blog in the top 5,000 or so.
I think this is one of the main strengths of Apple or OS X, it simply works. I’ve been using 103bees as well and yes, a great majority of the questions asked are among the simplest.
It’s important to keep in mind that although these questions seem like they are coming from beginners, that might not be the case. The “what is a blog” question is a bad example (that person is obviously new to blogging), but the “how to start a blog” is a perfect one. It could be someone who is struggling through the “difficulties” of opening their first blogger account or it could be someone who has tried to start 20 blogs only to have them fail.
It would be impossible to write a concise post that addresses each of these users, and it’s difficult to know which user is the one visiting your blog without more long-tail keywords such as: “how to start a blog on blogger” or “how to start a blog and get noticed.”
Do your metrics show these types of queries as well, and if so, what are you seeing from the long-tail?
Yeah its very true. Some times a simple post helps to get lot traffic, Its happened with me. Actually it was my mistake, totally unintentional.
While writing a simple post about FoxyTune (a firefox addon), I had a spell mistake which helps me to get lot of traffic for such a very simple article of mine. I have explained that here with this link->
It’s so true.
Answers to the simplest questions do seem to draw a wider ranger of traffic.
On my blog, Marcus Makes Movies, I’m attempting to cover the basics of film production.
Einstein said that everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.
I completely agree with you. When you make your site simple,
chances are people are wanting to come back for more.
You’re going to laugh at this one.
My rather odd blog post that gets at least one specific search a week is how to cancel an NFL Field Pass subscription. Why? Real Networks makes it nearly impossible to cancel (golly, it’s easy to join online). You need to CALL them… no online cancellation. Anyway, I figured out the painful, non-customer friendly process and posted it.
Now, my simple post is a helpful one.
I don’t know how many times I’ll throw up a quick “non-pillar” post and it will suddenly get 2 or 3 times more comments than the last several posts that I worked so hard on.
Keep It Simple, eh?
I haven’t used 103bees and others but my vote to simplicity. Very true.
Thank You for the reminding 103bees and hit tail. I heard about this from your blog some time back but couldnt take time out as I am an engg student to along with being a blogger. Its tough to take time out of engg curriculum but I am loving blogging.
haven’t implanted ads yet as I want to have a solid reader base. This tip will help me…
I try to follow Occam’s razor as much as possible, summarized to be “All things being equal, the simplest solution tends to be the best one.”
But this is really hard when you are making a new blog, do you think that people should focus more on writing larger articles when first starting and then moving to more simple posts? Or just keep a steady mix?
[…] How simple posts can attract readers according to Problogger Darren Rowse […]
I’m a newcomer when it comes to blogging, that’s why I visit this site like everyday. Thanks Darren. I learnt a lot.
I just had 9 visitors today, so I should spend more time to get traffic to my website. I have a personal blog, so it was rather difficult for me to find out how people actually found my blog. 103bees looks like a good tool to watch over these statistics. I dout that I will have to write simple posts, but it would be interesting to see what people might actually see in my blog. I’m not sure myself. Still trying to figure out the fundamental questions.
[…] ProBlogger Darren posted a few days ago about How Simple Posts Can Find Your Blog Readers. This article brought up a point that I’ve thought about from time to time and was one of the reasons why I started the 5 Minute How To series on FreshBlogger: Most visitors come looking for answers to simple questions. […]
I also agree that the simpler posts seem to get the most traffic. I also notice that some of the more obscure topics get more traffic as well. There are a lot of people out there looking for hard to find information.
Hi Darren, I have used 103bees for this purpose since Christoph started with this new feature. In my linked German article about Mozilla news I have aggregated those questions (see: “Fragen zu Mozilla Firefox oder Thunderbird, die hier so eintrudeln …”, translation: “questions about Firefox or Thunderbird flowing by…”) in an own paragraph and I have also added alternative versions of the different questions to sub paragraphs. The success is quite astonishing (SEO wise) the only difference to the one-question-one-article approach is that I am aggregating those questions in a ‘living’ paragraph inside a ‘living’ article.
[…] Choose Something Basic to Teach – sometimes it is the most simple and basic tips that people appreciate the most. Go back to beginner type instruction and you might find you connect with a lot of readers that […]
Of, Course, Keep it simple is most the time more affective!
This is such a useful tip. My blog is mainly intended for folks who run small businesses. Many of them know nothing at all about the blogosphere. They might have a (pretty bad) Web page but have never heard of basic concepts like permission marketing, “benefits, not features,” what SEO is and what you can do on the non-tech front to improve it, etc. etc. etc.
For myself, too–because I’m self-taught, there are all kinds of gaps in my understanding. So a simple reminder to use keywords in my anchor text is really helpful! (I got that one from Copyblogger yesterday.)
As a almost complete novise,this is a great tip,simple clear and to the point.
I totally agree with the others, the post has to be simple and right to the point.I have tried to follow this advice, and it has really increased my traffic. Do not think too complicated.
That’s a really good point. My experience shows that a divulgatory post about electronic music called “what is minimal techno?” gets more views that more technical, or specialized posts.
Starting a blog and then breaking the threshold of getting vistiors is the challange. Leaving comments like this would probably get me just 10-20 hits and then the traffic drops off.
Sometimes even niche content also doesn’t pull people in. Just wondering if the reverse approach ie. thinking from the point of view of less-intelligent-beings who would like to know “how to … whatever” and then solving that “how to” help in anyway because page ranking would probably get them the answer at some high ranking site like answers.com.
So if somehow I think if one can build trust in the audience and you know meet upto that expectation of delivering everytime they read your post is what is required.
But then again how do you convince people and build an expectation in the first place. Which gets everything back to square one.
Its about building you know, Wow this person really knows his/her stuff!!! kind of thing which would pull back visitors.
[…] How Simple Posts Can Find Your Blog Readers […]
I always use the KISS system. Blogging = Keep It Simple System = Easy to read and digest.
Great point! I’ve tested both styles and I like the type
of traffic I attract when I stick to simple fundamentals and a personable casual style in my blogs…
I guess in my niche, the over analytical or over technical mindset just doesn’t really click with me…
But it’s a good point to really “know” your target niche
and the mindset it tends to attract.
That way you can work on attracting people that are like minded and have more fun in your work.
Great post. Thanks!
Very interesting article. Keep it simple stupid – KISS. I learned that in the military years ago and find it holds true to most things.
Indeed, simple posts are most times the best way to attract visitors. However, simple posts tend to also contain simple keywords and this means that unless you have an established website you certainly won’t be found :)