A while back I talked about “steroid traffic” versus natural traffic. Steroid traffic is a term I coined to mean quick surges of traffic that don’t necessarily average more than 1.1 pageviews per visitor. Steroid traffic has short term benefits and the visitors rarely stick around. Natural traffic, however, from search engines or referrals, will generally average well over 2.0 pageviews per visitor and generally turn into repeat visitors.
I am going to share with you 7 tried and tested methods I have personally used to get visitors to become regular readers, whether that be through subscribing to my RSS feed or simply reading a good amount of my posts. I used all of these methods in conjunction with each other to triple my RSS subscriber count last month.
1. Use a highly visible Feed Button. Make sure you have a BIG RSS button near the top of your site and also in your sidebar. If you need Feed Icons, check out this web site which has a downloadable package of customizable Feed icons.
2. Include this magic sentence after each post. As soon as I modified my template to include the following sentence after each post, I saw my RSS subscribers go up significantly. The magic line is, “If you enjoyed this post, then make sure you subscribe to my RSS Feed.” You can, of course, use a derivative of that, but anytime someone finishes reading a post you wrote, that option will be presented directly in front of them.
3. Install this plugin. Anytime someone finishes reading an article, what do they do? They either leave a comment, leave your site, or read another article. How do you get them to read another article? Install the Related Posts plugin. I have it set to display 7 other related posts readers might be interested in. As soon as I installed that plugin, I saw my P/V ratio (pageviews per visitor) go way up.
4. Ask questions. Asking your readers questions is a great way to interact with your community and show them you care what they think. You can do this a number of ways – respond to their comments with questions, ask questions at the end of a post, or even install a poll and ask them a question which will benefit you, such as, “what do you want to see more of on this blog?” I used the answers to that question to help further define the focus of my blog.
5. Offer a full feed RSS. RSS, also known as Really Simple Syndication, is becoming an increasingly popular way to read blogs and stay up to stay on multiple news sources. If you offer a full feed RSS and do not cut off your posts (in your RSS feeds), you will definitely see your readership increase. I know you may have to sacrifice readers visiting your site to read an article, but the goal is to build readership for the long term, and of course, if they want to leave a comment, they will have to visit your blog anyway.
6. Be highly reachable. I encourage all of my readers to contact me if they have questions, comments, suggestions, need help, or just want to chat. I even use a plugin called Comment Relish to send an email to every new visitor who leaves a comment. In this email, I included all of my instant messenger (skype, aim, msn gtalk) usernames and encourage them to contact me about anything. I love to meet new people and I have met some great new friends as a result of my blog. For example, the other day I received a message on MSN from Jason Honey and we had a nice little chat about entrepreneurship.
7. Host a contest. Contests are a great way to give back to your readers and encourage community participation. I just finished hosting my first contest and it was a great success. I saw a ton of new visitors and a met some new people. Try to make the contests somewhat interesting and encourage people to talk about it.
All of those methods have helped my blog increase its traffic, RSS subscribers, and overall reader interaction significantly over the past few months. You can see the percentage of repeat visitors by monitoring the repeat visitor rate in your stats software. (Generally, anything over 50% of considered a good repeat visitor rate.)
What other methods have you used to get visitors to stick around on your blog?
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