Making your blog sticky and keeping casual viewers

Filed as General on March 3, 2005 2:24 pm

by Duncan

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Duncan Riley> I’ve written here at the Blog Herald previously in relation to content in terms of quality and quantity, but I’d like to expand on this to include exposure into the equation.

I first started noticing a few months ago that the number of page views, or post views if you like at The Blog Herald started to decrease relative to the increase in traffic.

As traffic continued to grow (February saw 100,000 unique visits for the first time) the number of page views actually stayed static, and indeed even dropped in January.

I recently became interested in the sites Alexa ranking as well, following some correspondence with Jason Calacanis who although agreed with my concerns that the service was limited due to its measurement of Alexa Toolbar users only, noted that the service still provided a useful tool in site analysis. Alexa indicated in October that the Blog Herald was receiving 1.9 page views per visit, whereas in February 05 the figure at times dropped to 1.1

So what changed?

Having made the switch from MovableType (MT) to WordPress (WP), with a new template and its bells and whistles, WP (atleast 1.2) does not install with the last n posts listed as default. Where as the old Blog Herald MT template always had a listing of previous posts, the new template didn’t.

Determined to arrest the slide in stickiness, I looked to bringing back a recent posts feature. Unfortunately, this isn’t the easiest of tasks in WP 1.2.

As of 3 days ago I implemented the “Customizable Post Listings” Plugin from Coffee2code and amended the WP-Comments file, so that the last 10 posts appear directly below the comments section on each individual posts page. I figured that a new viewer visiting the index page will be provided with the last 20 posts anyway, so they’ll have them to choose from, but a new viewer visiting the Blog Herald via an individual post’s page, aside from links to the archive sections, won’t actually get to see any links to other posts, or more importantly, doesn’t get to see the other lead stories on the site.

Has it worked? Well its early days yet, but the signs are promising. At the time of writing page views per user have jumped back upto 1.5 for the day, with a view rank half the 1 week average. Even more importantly, that amongst Alexa Toolbar users, the traffic rank for the site has hit 44,883, its highest spot yet, with a reach of 40 million users and a reach rank of 30,476. Notably checking my server stats, there has been no particular jump in unique visitors numbers to the site. Basically Alexa Toolbar users are simply sticking around more, and as a consequence are spending more time and reading more at the site by the implementation of this simple strategy.

The moral for bloggers is simple: making your blog sticky keeps viewers longer. Look at moral ways (by this I mean without popups etc) of getting casual visitors to explore your blog further, it may well increase repeat visits, and potentially improves your stats and your advertising revenue opportunities. Including a link to recent posts at the end of individual posts is one way of doing it, but there may be others. Its another thing to consider when growing and maturing your blog.

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