So, today I'm tackling the issue of how to get more people to read and comment on your blog. Bearing in mind that when I started this blog three years ago I knew as much about it as I know about the Lesser Galapagan Monkfish. But now I know muchily more. (Though I feel I still have a shameful gap in my knowledge of Lesser Galapagian Monkfish.)
NOTE: all of this is completely optional and you only need to take note if you want lots more traffic etc. If you're just enjoying what you do already and are perfectly happy, then why change anything? I've written this in response to people asking for tips.
Part of what follows is about getting people to find your blog in the first place (for example through Google search activity) and part is about getting them to stay there and interact (comment and link to you from their own place). All of those things have benefits: your blog feels more active and may therefore feel more rewarding, and your blog is more likely to appear high in the search results for other things. This can have unpredictable benefits, as recently happened to me when someone googled something about the teenage brain.
That's the first important thing. Apart from your readers, Google - *bows down in strategic praise* - loves good content. And if Google loves your blog, your blog will go flying through the googlesphere and lots more people will find it. But what is good content?
(You will see that I don't obey all the rules that follow, partly because you don't have to obey them all and partly because my blog is an advice blog on a topic that lots and lots of people desperately want to know about, so I can get away with disobeying some rules. Also, note that some of these guidelines are based on Google's SEO - Search Engine Optimisation - rules, and some are plain common sense.)
- is frequent*** - if you blog once a month, you are simply not going to get the traffic that you'll get if you blog three times a week (which is my recommended amount.)
- is what people will enjoy reading
- and/or what people want to learn about
- is full of key words that will appear in search engines - so, if your post is about World Book Night, don't call it "In Which I Don't Talk About Lesser Galapagian Monkfish"
NB edited to add: when I say "full of", please note that I do NOT mean you to overdose on key words or their repetition. Google doesn't like this. Just calm down and write nicely, but do mention the relevant words somewhere near the start of your post. Google does not like you trying to trick it and that is NOT what this post is about.
- contains pictures
- contains lots of links to good content - see LINKS and LINKBACKS, below
- contain topical things
- might be controversial - although I never thought about this at the time, when I blogged critically about Sainsbury's, my stats soared and Google probably came close to proposing marriage
- is brief - that's me scuppered!
- has short sentences - max 10-30 words per sentence and short paragraphs (three sentences max)
- is easy for the eye to scan - scanning has been shown most often to happen in a F pattern: we read the first para, skip a third of the way down, and scan the page looking at the left side. Apparently. *rolls eyes and vows to do it like a Z*
a) carry on, for your own pleasure and for a record of your thoughts, events, whatever, not worrying about interaction etc. (You could even turn off comments and relax!)
b) stop blogging. There is no rule that says you have to blog. In fact, if you con't enjoy it, it will show.
- The other person is likely to notice (because if they are sensible they will have a Google alert*** set up) and will quite likely a) come and comment b) visit you again c) have some other useful interaction with you.
- If your blog is relevant to theirs, they may end up putting a link to yours in their sidebar.
- Your content becomes more valuable and Google likes you.
- At the end of the post, ask a question.
- Say something provocative or topical. See my Our (Complementary) World Book Night post, which got me onto Newsnight. Unintentionally, I have to say. I do very little on purpose.
- Ask for advice.
- Have a quiz or small competition. (Once you've got a few readers.)
- Have a blog party. (Click that link to see how that can work.)
- A blog list - list of other blogs you like, with links. Best if you set it so that the latest post title is visible, so others can see what sort of thing those blogs do.
- More than one blog list, divided into themes or whatever - eg a list of writers' blogs and a list of eg knitting blogs, if knitting is your thing. Obviously, if it's not, that's not the best idea.
- If you have an area of expertise or interest, or your book has a special theme, a list of blogs and websites that relate to that theme.
- A link to your other places - eg Facebook, Twitter, other website, publisher's website.
- "Labels" - so that if people want to find which of your posts are about shoes or chocolate, they can.
- A very short profile of you, so that people know who you are and what you do.