Last week while attending BlogWorld I noticed a recurring discussion pertaining to increasing blog readership. These discussions were part of the session content, as well as informal conversations I had over a meal or at an evening gathering.
I decided to share these with you because, after all, who doesn’t want more readers?
Off-site Ways to Increase Blog Readership
1. Blog Alliances
By building a network or Mastermind group of sorts with other bloggers in your market, bloggers can create coopetition (cooperation + competition) to help each other grow. What do they do? Things like commenting on each others’ blogs, linking to one another, guest posting, cross-promoting each others’ products, meeting regularly (online and offline), etc. A great resource for blog alliances was put together by Darren Rowse.
2. Comment on Others’ Blogs
As you comment on other blogs in your market (not necessarily competitors), readers of that blog will have an opportunity to learn more about you by clicking through to your site. Remember to fill out the website field on the comment form so your name is hyperlinked. Avoid putting the link to your site in the comment itself, as it might get thrown into the spam bin (along with future comments you may post).
3. Comment on Readers’ Blogs
Nothing is more flattering than when a respected blog author posts a comment on your blog, right? That’s how one of your readers feels when you take the time to click through and comment on theirs. This is a great way to build rapport with your subscribers and readers.
4. Promote Posts or Pages, Not Just the Domain
Both search engines and readers appreciate when you link to a specific piece of content on your site, as opposed to just the domain name. When possible, make sure the linked content is related to the page you are posting the link to.
5. Yahoo! Answers
Yahoo! Answers is not only a great place to generate ideas for creating content for your site, as well as learn about issues your market might be facing, it is also a great place to interact with readers and introduce them to your content. Find a question you have a solution for, and respond. It’s important not to be overtly promotional. Chris Garrett suggests the following format when responding to a question: “Here’s the short answer…but the longer answer is here [link to article].”
On-site Ways to Increase Blog Readership
6. Build an E-Mail List and Send Subscribers to Post Archives
By giving visitors an opportunity to get more from you (subscribing via e-mail), you have an opportunity to build a relationship and drive traffic to resources on your site that might go unnoticed otherwise. Take your top posts in a given category and introduce e-mail newsletter subscribers to the content via e-mail. With this approach you’ll get more traffic and build more rapport with readers.
7. Disable Comment Moderation
I have to admit, I didn’t understand this approach when I first heard it. If you don’t want spam on your blog, you have to enable moderation, right? Yes, it might stop spam; however, it also stops engagement with commentors. When they hit submit on their thought-provoking comment, and the result is “comment awaiting moderation,” it is disheartening, and you may have just lost yourself a visitor. For those who believe blogs should promote engagement, disabling comment moderation helps in that effort. FYI: You can always flag a comment as spam later on so that future comments from that user or address will never be approved.
8. Respond Quickly to Comments
This is self explanatory. Again, if engagement is the key on blogs (and it is), the blog owners’ responsiveness is a tip to readers.
9. Mobile-Enable Your Site
Mobile is growing. More people are surfing the Web on mobile devices, and enabling your site to serve content in a mobile format will keep readers coming back. There are free plugins to enable this capability for WordPress blogs; there are also paid services. Here’s one plugin that I use.
10. Send Personal E-Mails to Commentors
This seems labor intensive, but for a newer blog may be well worth the investment of time, especially if your site is low on engagement. Darren Rowse suggested this idea, indicating this is one of the approaches he took to grow his community. Essentially, the blog owner sends a personal e-mail thanking the commenter for the comment, including a link to the post, and informing them that they will be updated whenever a new comment is posted. Darren indicated that commenters were surprised by his e-mail, and it made for more meaningful engagement, and increased readership.
Your turn: What are your thoughts on my notes? What is missing? Useful? Chime in using the comment boxes below.
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Travis, Great notes. You must have had a jolly good time in Las Vegas! 🙂 If you get an interesting comment, you could take an excerpt of it and update your original post with this feedback, or you could write a new post with a a quote from the reader.
Number 3 is key. if you can build an engaged community, then readers will start to promote your blog for you!
Travis- An excellent article and very timely for me. Thanks for your help.
great to see you at Blogworld, last week!
I’ve never thought about “moderating” my comment stream. I guess i believe in this “open’ thing, totally.
(I will remove nasty comments, and flag spam comments as spam, though)
Thanks for the takeaways.
The Franchise King
I wish you’d have published this last week. I just was setting up my blog for mobile this weekend (though I did end up using WPTouch as well). Now my blog can be easily read on mobile devices.
@martin – yes a good time it was, though mostly work. Great people at events like this, you should make the trip!
@andy – dead on.
@kip – glad to hear it, we all need timely words from time to time.
@Joel – Great seeing you as well. Its a tough line to walk, as high traffic sites get a lot of spam, just as easy to enable moderation, but not healthy for community building.
@robert – Good for you! Taking action ahead of the ideas here at SBT!
If you have thoughts, feedback, or your own ideas, they are welcome here in the comment stream.
Hi Travis. What great pieces of advice you give here. You’re also emphasizing that blogging is a commitment and a timeeater, but I guess the outcome’s worth it. Thanks
Great advice, Travis! I agree that connecting 1:1 with a blog audience is insanely powerful to attract loyalists. People support others who support them.
I totally agree that commenting on other blogs is a fantastic way to grow readership of one’s blog. One word of caution — I highly discourage people to use names like “Best Canadian Watches” and stuff. Make it personal, make it you and be consistent. Don’t comment for the sake of commenting — actually connect with the topic and the author.
Thanks for sharing this advice! Glad you had a great time at BlogWorld! 🙂
@Gaelle Thanks for chiming in. Yes, it is a commitment and takes time…but is important if you want to build a business online.
@Joseph Glad you found value, and good point. Those type of ‘link text’ comments are getting approved less and less by site owners, so it is often an exercise in futility on the part of the commenter (or outsourced SEO company).
Thanks for the great post, Travis. Having just recently been handed the bulk of the responsibility for our blog, these tips will definitely be useful as I navigate my way through this interesting but new world.
Travis, thank you for the best and most informative explanation I’ve seen on increasing blog readership to date. I particularly like that you are providing people tips that are actually doable. I appreciate the advice!
All great ideas! A few I incorporate now, but there are also a few I hadn’t considered before. Thanks!
Don Power - Managing Editor Sprout Social Insights Blog
Found this post via BizSugar…
I like the concept you described of using
@Donna Glad to hear it, thanks for chiming in.
@Don I’m with you, prefer the softer approach when commenting on content sharing sites like Yahoo Answers. Taking it a step further, if you have an admin helping you, and can identify the top 10 or so questions in your niche, you can have your admin troll sites for those questions, and direct them to your FAQ.
Anyone else have thoughts or feedback? Anyone having success with these approaches?
Thanks for the advice Travis. I have recently joined the world of blogging and now how two blogs that keep me busy and satisfied. I am definitely looking for ways to increase readership and I’m off to put your points to work.
@victoria thanks for chiming in. Would be interested to learn the results of your efforts. Keep it up!
Thank you for this great info. #3 is big. I’m new at blogging, so this one I think is a big one. I also get a lot of spam, so #7 was confusing but it makes sense. I would love to see my comments as soon as I post them.
Great tips! I am also addicted to Darren Rowse blogs and have learnt and implemented a lot from him I just disabled comment moderation in all my blogs (20 something) and am optimistic
These are great insights – as a matter of fact I just installed the WP Touch and it works like a charm. Thanks a ton!
I have been responding to comments in the comments section. I never thought of sending a personal email. Great advice. I’m going to start doing that.
Thanks for this… I particularly liked nrs 1 & 5. Would love to read more on your thoughts about the structure and format of the blog versus the sheer content.