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Three Problems that Make Me Leave Your Blog in Three Seconds

Posted By Guest Blogger 5th of October 2010 Miscellaneous Blog Tips 0 Comments

This guest post is by the Blog Tyrant.

“Wow that’s an interesting looking title you’ve got there, I think I’ll check out that blog.”

That’s what I think. But three seconds later I’m gone, never to return again.

Despite racking your brains for amazing titles, composing literary marvels to dazzle your readers, and spending hours on your blog’s design, you still lost me. In this post I’m going to show you three serious problems that’ll make me leave your blog in three seconds (or less). Be very careful to fix these if they’re present on your site.

I need to open this post by reiterating a simple truth. It is a truth that applies to all businesses, not just blogs. And that truth is:

One loyal reader is worth thousands of one-time visitors

It’s true that one loyal reader (or customer) is worth more than thousands of one-time visitors. One loyal reader will do more for your blog than thousands of one-offs will.

Think about it for a second. Who is it that leaves comments, links to you on their own blogs, talks about you to their friends, Diggs and Stumbles your latest posts, and, eventually, buys whatever products you sell from your blog?

It’s the loyal guys. It isn’t the thousands of mindless drones who just sit there clicking Stumble, Stumble, Stumble, all day long and not interacting with the pages they land on. It’s your loyal readers. Sure, there are some exceptions like affiliate and product websites where you’re just sending super-targeted traffic to the landing page. But we’re talking about blogs, and on blogs, it’s the community that matters.

The three mistakes I’ll explain here will kill your chances of gaining loyal readers. Even if you answer readers’ questions and create content that will help enrich their lives, you are going to lose them if these silly little mistakes appear on your blog. If they do, fix them as soon as possible.

Three problems that make me leave your blog in three seconds

Let’s get into the bulk of the post and sort out these injuries that are crippling your blog. And as always, if you have others that I’ve missed, please leave a comment—your advice might help someone take their blog to the next level.

Problem 1: Lack of comments

One of the first things I do on a blog is check out how many comments there are. A lack of comments instantly turns me off, because I consider comments to be a good metric for determining how useful the articles are. If my initial scan turns up lots of “0 comments” notices, I almost always just close the window.

In my first ProBlogger guest post, on how to make your blog addictive, I talked about social proof and the fact that people need to see that other people are involved on a blog before they themselves get involved. Human beings really don’t like being first—it’s too scary.

How can you fix it?
How can you get more comments on your posts? I talked a little bit about that in my article on blog commenting, but here are a few extra ideas.

  • Change the default “0 comments” text.
    The first thing you should do is change that horrid default text that says “0 comments” to something more interesting and engaging. On Blog Tyrant posts where there are zero comments, the note reads, “Leave a comment, handsome.” That’s much more personal than “0 comments.” To change this text on your blog, just go to your Main Index Template file in your template editor, find the section called php comments_popup_link, and change the relevant areas. I also change the other text in that section, so instead of saying 5 Comments it says 5 Intelligent Opinions.
  • Ask for comments.
    The next thing you need to do is specifically ask for comments. Design your articles in such a way that they really encourage people to leave comments and share their thoughts. This has a lot to do with not answering all their questions in the post itself, but can also mean putting a question in the title or the first paragraph of your post. There is a danger here, however, as if you constantly ask for comments, and no one leaves any, you’ll start to look even more lonely.
  • Create a “buddy” group.
    This is something I used to do years and years ago, and it worked quite well. Find a group of blogs in your niche that don’t get many comments, and send them an email explaining that you’ll leave comments on their posts if they’ll do the same for you. It works really well.

If you’ve been blogging for a long time now, and you still aren’t getting many comments, it might be time to ask some hard questions. In my post on why blogging is a waste of time, I touched on the issue that many bloggers are afraid to ask: are you sure blogging is the best career path for you? Most of the time, however, you can fix a lack of comments with a few little changes here and there. But make sure you do, because “0 comments” looks horrid.

Problem 2: A butchered theme

The second thing that makes me leave your blog super-fast is when your template or theme is ugly, hard to navigate, and has been tweaked so much that it no longer works correctly. If I had a dollar for every time I visited a blog that had been tweaked to the point of looking terrible, I’d be as rich as Bill Gates. The reason I find this so offensive is because it shows that you don’t really care about your users’ experience.

Image credit: duerschi

One of the ways you can make it in the blogosphere is by appearing bigger than you are until you actually get there. And part of that is having a slick theme that functions perfectly for your readers. A lot of experts say that the content is the only thing that matters, but I personally think that’s garbage. I’m sure there are hundreds of excellent articles out there that I haven’t read because the site was too hard to get around, or too ugly to take seriously.

How can I fix it?
Because this issue of an ugly theme covers so many different areas of your blog, I want to offer a few broad suggestions that might help you.

  • Get a custom theme designed.
    The first thing that I’ll tell anyone who is going to take their blog to the next level is to get a custom theme designed for it. This is an amazing way to brand your blog and make it unique. However, I’m aware that it’s quite expensive and probably not an option for most beginner bloggers. If you fall into that category, move on to the next point.
  • At least get a logo designed.
    Big corporate logos that need to represent a brand can cost tens of thousands of dollars. We aren’t there yet. Go to Google and type in “cheap logos” and spend $30 to $100 getting a pretty simple logo made for your blog. It won’t change your world, but it will help your readers take you a bit more seriously.
  • Choose a simple, clean, and mostly white theme.
    The next option is to choose a theme that’s very simple, clean, and mostly white. Forget about black backgrounds and swirling colors everywhere, white is what people are used to reading on, and anything else is upsetting to the eyes. Your theme should be content-focused and really simple; don’t distract your readers with too much other than elements that are going to get them to subscribe or read more content.
  • Don’t edit it yourself unless you make it perfect.
    WordPress is fantastic because it lets you add plugins and edit the theme to add social media icons and other things to your blog. The problem is that people edit the template themselves and end up making it look like a pre-school painting. Unless you know how to make the spacing and graphics work well together, please don’t edit it. Go to Rent a Coder and hire someone with knowledge to do it for a few dollars.

Take the time to present your content in a beautiful and easily navigable way. Don’t clutter the eye, and definitely make sure any additions that you make to the design enhance your blog branding.  It is very important that you appear as professional as possible.

Problem 3: No original ideas

The last problem is probably the most serious, and unfortunately it’s the hardest one to solve. When a blog has nothing new to offer, readers can smell it a mile off. In fact, by a quick glance of the front page you can usually tell whether or not you are going to find something new on a blog. And if there’s nothing new to read, the window gets closed pretty fast.

Let’s be clear about something here. You don’t need to have some amazing new idea like Stuff White People Like. That whole concept is totally original and something that I’ve never seen before.

What you need to do is present your work in a different way from your competitors; you need to differentiate yourself from them. Go and have a look at your blog and ask yourself why a visitor would read your content over another blogger’s. Unless you can think of some solid reasons as to why your offering’s different, you aren’t going to retain me.

How do I fix it?
Fixing this problem can be hard if you didn’t start your blog with some original elements. That being said, there are some things you can to do differentiate yourself as you go along.

  • Find an angle.
    Everything you write about should have an angle. Even if you’re writing about a topic that has been done to death, you can still usually find a semi-unique angle to present it from. That angle needs to percolate through your blog and change the way you write titles, opening paragraphs, draw conclusions, and so on.
  • Brand yourself differently.
    Closely related to the angle idea is the idea of branding yourself differently. People usually think that branding is just having a different logo, but it’s so much more than that. It is how your blog is perceived by others and where it is positioned in the market. Take Subway as an example. This brand is positioned as the only healthy option in the fast food industry, and as a result it’s killing this market space. The branding is all centered around why Subway is a healthy choice and will help you lose weight. Make sure you brand your blog in a way that promotes your angle and helps readers to perceive you as different and valuable.
  • Find out what others aren’t doing.
    One way I find ideas for blog posts is to go to the major websites in my niche, look at their most popular posts, and see what they did—but also what they didn’t do. If you can identify something that’s missing, and tap into that, you’ll usually get people interested. This is even more likely if you realize that what the blogger has written about is incomplete or incorrect, and you can challenge them on it. I think one reason my blog post on selling a blog went to the front page of Delicious.com and got picked up by newspapers is because it didn’t hold anything back—a lot of the other articles out there seemed to not quite show you the whole process. That is now a theme on my blog: share everything.

There really aren’t any original ideas out there. People have been thinking for a very long time now, and chances are that if we think of something, someone else has already thought it. The task, then, is to present your ideas in an original way or make it seem like you are different from the next blog. Unless you can do that, people will have no reason to stay on your blog, or come back once they’ve left.

What do you think?

What makes you leave a blog super-fast? Is it the design? Is it the grammar mistakes? Or is it that you just feel like you’ve seen it all before?

The Blog Tyrant has sold several blogs for large sums of money and earns a living by relying solely on the Internet. His blog is all about helping you dominate your blog and your blog’s niche, and only includes strategies that he has tried on his own websites. Follow him on Twitter or subscribe to his feed for all the juice.

About Guest Blogger
This post was written by a guest contributor. Please see their details in the post above.
Comments
  1. Problem 1: I have changed the default text for my comments so, although I still have no comments, at least it doesn’t look as bad.
    Problem 2: for my site, this is a bit moot unless you don’t mind banana yellow.
    Problem 3: hopefully

    Thanks for this :)

  2. Brenda says: 10/06/2010 at 5:50 am

    What about spelling, punctuation and overall grammar Brenda? Does that affect your return to a blog?

  3. hate blogs that take a long time to load and has crappy design

  4. I love the idea of changing the default “0 comments” text, but I can’t find it in my php anywhere. Can anyone offer any suggestions?

  5. For me the idea that had the most resonance was the one about branding. Its al about making yourself remarkable. Darren did it for Problogger and we need to do it too.

  6. I actually prefer 1000 one-off visitors instead of 1 loyal visitor. See another post on this blog by Darren: https://problogger.com/repeat-visitors-vs-new-visitors-which-is-worth-more-to-your-adsense-earnings/

    I also can vouch for these numbers based on the two blogs I run.

  7. Hi everyone.

    I just want to address a few things about the 0 COMMENTS CONTROVERSY I have started.

    My point was not to degrade new bloggers in any way. My whole motivation was to help them. I don’t want your good content going unread because of a silly thing like 0 comments.

    I often comment on posts with 0 comments but I think it is important to recognize that a lot of people don’t. Just like a lot of people don’t subscribe to RSS unless they see that feed count with hundreds of other people displayed.

    Please don’t think that I think all new blogs are useless and leave them right away. My point was just to say that you might be losing people if your blog looks really empty and then to give you some suggestions to fix it.

    Tyrant

  8. I agree with the things butchered theme and logo. Could you please provide any logo designers address, I have started a new site just now and looking for a Logo designer.

  9. I hate autoplay. I despise it and will exit very quickly. I rarely look at comments on other peoples blogs because I form my own opinion rather than having someone else tell me. Sometimes it is hard to get people commenting.

    The main thing I hate is not having a facebook account with a feed set up. I hate using RSS and will not really use it. I follow several blogs through facebook that I click through to the blog. I also follow several through RSS but I never remember to check it. No facebook profile usually means I will not be back.

  10. I find myself adding to my “to-do” list every time I visit your blog! In regards to this topic, thank you for leading by example, on all counts.

    There is only one thing I can think of that irritates me to the point of leaving, and that’s an ad at the very beginning of the content, like AdSense blocks. If a post title’s done it’s job, I want to get right to the meat of a post, and those block ads are way too intrusive.

    When an author allows an ad to obscure his words, it makes me feel as though his message is less important than the penny or so he might earn from that ad. *click*

  11. This was a really good article! Sadly, it seems the fashion blogging world hasn’t taken notice of any of these points-so long as you mention the right designer/model and post the same pictures as one of the more successful bloggers, you’re guaranteed new followers regardless of how terrible your theme is or that you manage to fit 10 grammatical errors into a five-word sentence.

  12. Full of wonderful suggestions, you have just gained yourself a loyal follower.

  13. An eyesore of a site will truly make me flee the scene.

  14. I find it really annoying when people don’t understand what a paragraph is.

    This doesn’t just apply to blogs, but writing in general.

    If I stumble across a blog, and I’m confronted by a huge amount of text without many paragraphs, then I’m not interested.

  15. Really value adding post for me. Thanks. I have been focusing on only content, until recently somebody asked me to do something extra to pull more readers.

    I will apply some of these, but nevertheless the sole focus of my Blog: “Ideas at the Bottom” :http://ideas8bottom.blogspot.com/, remains the content. Because the theme in which I started my Blog is to talk about unconventional ideas, which questions the assumption we make on daily basis about people, things, and this world as a whole.

    -Thanks
    “Ideas at the Bottom”

  16. Excellent post! I know the benifits of blogging, and have still been putting it off because I’ve been working on making sure my template looks just right.

    I think it’s time that I find my angle and start posting regularly…love the idea of getting a group together to comment on eachother’s blogs. Thanks for the handy tips!

  17. I absolutely agree with because I do the same, I also first look at the blog design and then number of comments because after seeing these I can have Idea about the blog position.

  18. Spelling and grammar errors definitely scare me away. Same with mushy, “inspirational,” or spiritual drivel – but that’s a personal bias. =)

  19. Great post about remedies to fix three problems that may be causing your visitors to leave and not post. The changing the ‘0 comments’ is such a great idea!

  20. Interesting. I might want to find ways to boost commenting on my site. I have loyal readers that comment, but not on every article, so some of them have the dreaded “o comments”.

    I’ve seen some bloggers comment on their own article, so there’s at least 1. And they add some new info that gets the conversation rolling.

  21. I personally like blogs with bullet points or numbered lists – anything that makes it easy to scan quickly. Long passages of narrative text are a big turn-off.

  22. Very interesting and usefull topic to discuss. I hate blog that has to many adds & to many colors.

  23. Yes lack of original ideas is a real no- also trying to write what you think other people expect to read, rather than talking about your ideas and beliefs. People want to be stimulated by reading a blog- not feel they have heard all this before. Grant

  24. other then points that you have mentioned blog/site loading time is also a crucial factor because if a blog takes too much time to load then i will leave it for sure.
    you should not add too much social media links and content to avoid this.

  25. I’d say much the same things as you, actually, but without really realizing it until I read this post (lol).

    My blog is still new, but I’m not new to blogging.

    But something that made me unsubscribe from a blog TODAY was constant posting. This blogger must’ve posted at least 5 posts today that kept showing up in my reader.

    LONG posts and I’m gone. I have 5 children and don’t have time to read really long posts. They are serious when they say to keep your posts short and scannable!

  26. This is great info, and I totally agree. The buddy group is definitely a good idea, and something that I’d not considered. Thank you!

  27. Sorry, I have to comment again. Something that I learned stops people from commenting is comment moderation, which you’re doing. :) People want to see their comment right away and not having it appear right away slows down any comment discussions. I’d recommend better filtering to queue articles that may need moderation, and letting the rest through and moderating them after the fact.

  28. Great tips – especially liked the one about changing the default comment text, hadn’t thought of that before but we’ll definitely use this strategy in the future!

  29. Thanks Darren,
    Another brilliant piece from you.

    No longer did I get to the part of changing the “0 comment section” that I IM’d my guy immediately and it’s on the list for changing.

    I’m still an infant blogger(2 weeks) so you’ve helped me a great deal.

    thanks again

    johnny

  30. I think your idea of starting a buddy group is fantastic. I think a blog looks terrible with no comments. It might even be better to log into your own blog and trump up some comments if you don’t have any!

  31. I’m out as soon as I see Grammar and or spelling mistakes in the first sentence. I have also seen blogs where, apparently, someone re-editted for SEO and literally made the blog unintelligible – lol !

  32. […] Three Problems that Make Me Leave Your Blog in Three Seconds: It’s kind of a problem if people arrive at your blog, are really turned off, and leave. Here’s what may be driving them away and how to fix it. […]

  33. Long blocks of small print is the biggest deterrent to me, Good formating and large print like yours is so much easier to read, perhaps I’m gettting old!
    Louise

  34. Rosanna Tarsiero says: 10/10/2010 at 10:10 pm

    The number of comment is irrelevant, IMHO.

    For one, quantity doesn’t imply or otherwise mean quality. What’s the point of blogging stuff and having 145 “me too” or “this is so cool” comments? 13 great contributions are far better than all that junk.

    For two, a high number of comments is a hint that the blog post can easily be filed under the “not so original stuff, better not to waste my time with this”.

    For three, inferring that high number of comments implies high usefulness of the post is a BIG stretch of imagination. People comment for all sort of reasons, many do so JUST to blurt out what’s in their head, useful or not, relevant or not.

    Finally, even if the post had indeed solved an issue 156 times, it still doesn’t mean, imply or merely suggest it will solve mine.

    The most important factor for me is CONSISTENCY, as in the values of the authors being in line with how s/he writes, does customer care, structures his/her work, satisfies the client. Looking at other stuff is a waste of time (and money) IMHO.

  35. Great stuff…especially turning the ‘0 comments’ off. I hadn’t thought of that being a turn-off before, but I can see the social connection may make it so. Thanks for the blog

  36. I *hate* blogs with flash. As soon as that little spiralling sun starts twitching, so does my finger…. On the exit key, you naughty, naughty boys. Oh yeah, and I don’t like blogs without just a smidge of humour.

  37. Denise J. says: 10/12/2010 at 5:01 am

    Number One – Difficult to navigate / cluttered with ads / can’t find the content. This may sound like three, but they are all related. I want to go right to the content and not wonder if I’m clicking a link to an outside ad, or if I’ve reached a page that is just a search listing that doesn’t actually have its own info. Give me what I came here for, and quickly.

    Number Two – Grammar and spelling errors. To me, this is obvious. If you don’t have the knowledge or time to make sure your page reads correctly, then I don’t have time for you.

    Number Three – Language that appears to be translated in to English. If your text sounds like someone plugged a foreign language into a translator, then I’m thinking this is an auto-generated page without a real person behind it. Again, if you don’t have time for me, I don’t have time for you.

  38. Great post! My site is pink so will be changing that for sure.

    Just a query – does any one know how to change the comment text in blogger as “php comments_popup_link” doesn’t show in my html?

  39. Thanks to everybody for sharing their thoughts.

    Darren: Great post, man. Thanks for doing what you do and doing it well.
    You have a great conversational voice that makes me feel like we’re talking. As a writer, I really appreciate that about your style, both here and on DPS (awesome site, by the way).

    Everybody:I love a good community. As I read these posts, I got more inspired. Brilliant group of folks putting their thoughts out there compels me to be a part of it. Gratitude to all of you.

  40. For Sarah & others w/ blogger/blogspot accounts:
    I queried the blogger forum about changing the 0 comments to say something else and found out that you can change the word “comments” to something else but not the actual # of comments.
    If anyone out there knows of a way to change the 0 to something else on blogger, I’d love to hear it.

  41. Unnecessary vulgarity. I think some bloggers are vulger to shock and awe, but it turns me off. Swearing is fine if it’s in context to the story, but if you’re just being offensive for the sake of being offensive, then you come across like a 12 year old who’s swearing, because it’s cool for kids his age.

  42. Good article. I think originality and a personable feel to the blog is what keeps me coming back.

  43. If a blog is showered with ads or hard to read, I won’t stick around for more than a couple of seconds. My mind has been trained to do so by now, as we are all looking for useful information anyways.

  44. I blog on food and cooking, and my trigger is when I see blog titles saying “best ever” as in “best ever cheesecake recipe.” My finger hits the mouseclicker almost before my brain has processed reading those words.

  45. Agree with Problem # 2

    Disagree with #1 and #3:
    Have you ever heard of Daring Fireball? Apparently, the author doesn’t allow comments. He also post interesting posts that published by other and sometimes adds his opinion.

  46. I’d have to say misspellings and terrible grammar. And as you mentioned, too much clutter or poor design. Thanks for the post!

  47. To increase post comments ,if you write original post and user are really interested in your post topics , then you will automatically gets lots of comments.

  48. Steve Sea says: 10/16/2010 at 9:42 am

    This is a well written blog – Thanks!

    My 2 cents: The comments can often be more interesting than the original blog; this is especially true for news sites (such as NYTimes). Sometimes I just skim the blog or article and jump right to the comments section.

  49. please dont leave my blog…wait.. please do not go….wait .. hold on… i promise it is interesting…
    we have funnel cake…

  50. I definitely with you about these problems, i’m trying my best to avoid all these negative problems.

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