Making your blog sticky: the first followup
Duncan Riley> Back at the beginning of March I wrote a post titled “Making your blog sticky and keeping casual viewers” in which I discussed getting casual viewers to stick around as a way of getting increased page views and of building long term traffic. Well a month later I’ve learnt a few things, and here they are.
In attempt to keep casual viewers, those that enter the site from a direct sub-page link, I implemented the WordPress “Customizable Post Listings” Plugin from Coffee2code at the beginning of March which placed the a listing of the last 10 posts on site at the bottom of every page, a bit like MT use to (and may well still do) in the navigation bar. At the time I wrote after a couple of days that there seemed to be a trend upwards in page viewers per visitor as a result of the move. The good news, the trend continued!
I tweaked the placement of the past posts list and moved it from below the comments where I first placed it, to directly below the post on each individual posts page after the initial boost started to level off about 1 week into the start of the experiment. The result, as of today according to a9.com is 1.8 page views per visitor today, 1.6 average for the week, and 1.3 for the month. Remember that at one stage the figures had dropped to 1.1, and although I’d be over the moon if I could keep 1.8, 1.6 is still a health figure, basically 60% of visitors are going on to read another page on site, compared to 10% just over 1 month ago. The Blog Herald’s placement on a9.com in terms of position has also improved as a result. Excluding Easter, where the lack of posts for 4 days caused a mini-meltdown, The Blog Herald has now rated in the Top 100,000 sites on the net for most of March. Sure, its not an Engadget or a Gizmodo, but for the particular niche market I’ve targeted I’m really happy with the result. Remember, the more people look, the better chance you’ve got of picking them up as a return visitor later.
During the month I started considering The Blog Herald’s layout again, particuarly given the addition of the good folks over at eNewsBlog as the sites key advertiser. The change from 720×90 Google ad to 480×60 eNewsBlog presented a challenge in itself as the smaller banner created a lot of whitespace. There’s been a study recently (can’t remember where, some one might be able to point it out in the comments) about what bloggers see and don’t see on a page, and Darren over at ProBlogger has also been discussing items such as ad placement. So a couple of changes were made, one, I moved the search box to a non “hot” area if you like, an area which does not immediately get attention because quite simply, whilst search on any site is handy, it doesn’t increase readership and revenue. I moved the eNewsBlog banner to the left and let the blog text flow directly beneath it. Why? because I believe the search box which had been previously located between the banner space and the text was causing that advertising space to become disconnected to some readers. I also took some time out to investigate text, and made some changes there. You’ll notice that the headline font and colour has changed, because from what I saw the format of both influences the attractiveness of what you’ve written. I’ve also tweaked the general text a little bit as well to make it easier to read. No, I promise I’m not blind and I don’t have glasses, but there is nothing worse than having to squint to read stories on a blog because of some trendy layout that leaves the text so small as to be nearly impossible to read. This task is about keeping readers, not driving them away. The tale is still developing with the banner ad, but in terms of text I believe that this to has played a part in keeping readers.
So what next
Like any blogger the task of increasing visitor numbers never stops. As the Blogosphere evolves, so should existing blogs who wish to remain at their best. Hopefully, my CSS skills permitting, I’m looking at moving the far right column advertising to the inner right column. Why? well I read that it helps with clickthru’s with ads, and I’m willing to give it a shot, it goes back to the visual thing again with connecting the eye of the reader from text to advertisement. As always I’ll look at better ways of utilising space, as I write this I’ve got the most paid BlogAds I’ve ever had, and some may notice that they spill over the page due to the sizing issues of one of them, so that will need to be addressed as well. And as alway I’ll be watching the masters of the blogiverse, Denton and Calacanis, to see what they’re doing to. The moral: learn from others and strive to achieve more, and don’€™t be afraid to experiment a little, you’€™d be surprised with the results that can be achieved!
Congratulations, this was listed as the first item on my Customized Google News ‘blog’ section. Glad I stopped by.
Even better than recent posts, I find the (WP) “related articles” plugin to be incredible! It uses some sort of fuzzy logic to automatically list related content. Check it out on my blog.
Oh, I also use a recent posts plugin, but place it in the sidebar instead.
For users of Typepad the Recent Posts and Recent Comments is a great way of getting people to browse around the site. Just make sure that both are easy to see and think about position in relation to the end of your articles.
One approach I’m experimenting with is careful placement of posts. For instance, today I’ve got a strong post about the teen TV show The O.C. – but it’s not the top post. Above it is another post about The Strand – an online movie by one of the Blair Witch creators. This has a good chance of interesting OC fans. so thatâ€™s two posts for them to see.
And because the OC fans now have to scroll to see the OC post, the third post, about British rock bands, comes into view.
The reader is now some way down the home page, on a level with the categories and the recent posts in the left column.
Great advice from you and all who shared their secrets. I’ll try those on my blog.