When a reader visits your blog for the first time, you’ll want to give them a first impression that will blow them away. It’s actually quite simple to do this. Here are 10 tips for grabbing the attention of a new reader and push them to keep coming back.
1. Your pitch
Tell readers what your blog is about. Don’t ramble on and on – give them a concise explanation of your blog, and give them a compelling reason to stick around. This isn’t easy, but it’s important to get it right. Otherwise, you may be losing potential readers at the very first hurdle.
2. Your latest post
Writing “pillar content” is all about writing great posts. But it shouldn’t be something you do every now and again. Every time you publish a post, make it a great post. Make every post a work of art. Any of your posts could be the first one that a reader sees – so how can you justify publishing half-baked posts?
3. Your best posts
No matter how much effort you put into your posts, some will stand above the rest. You’ll need to decide how to measure the success of a post, whether it’s down to pageviews, the number of comments, the quality or length of comments, the post with the most retweets on Twitter, or something else entirely. Whichever you choose, be sure to list some of your best posts on your home page.
4. A striking, unique, clean design
We’re not all designers, but even a small amount of effort on your design can make the difference between “blah” and “blimey!”. If possible, hire a designer to help you out, or use a theme that can be easily customised. Make the most of your header area – don’t waste space with a huge banner or loads of ads – keep it simple. Also, ensure you keep clutter to a minimum.
It’s pretty boring when a blog is nothing but text. You need to include a few images that add value to the site, but don’t go overboard. Thumbnails are a good compromise – they look good, but they’re small, unobtrusive and fast-loading. That’s what I use on the front page of Top Ten Blog Tips.
6. Clear and concise categories
While writing new posts is very important, don’t keep churning out post after post without thinking of how your blog should be organised. Every now and again, it’s a good idea to tidy up your blog categories. You should also look at how to improve your navigation.
7. Recent updates
In point 2, I said that you should highlight your recent posts. It goes a bit further than that – you need to have recent posts! Readers may be turned off if a blog has no recent updates, say within the last few weeks – or even more. It might be less of an issue for blogs that already have a lot of content, though. What do you think?
8. Comments and replies
A blog with no comments looks lonely and abandoned. A blog with no replies from the author looks like the blogger doesn’t care. Comments are one of the most important lifesigns of youir blog – don’t ignore them, and don’t stop trying to increase your blog comments.
9. A quick way to subscribe
There’s a fine line between helping people to find your subscribe link, and putting it right in their face. Sure, make it easy to find – but I’ve never been keen on these popup windows that appear on my first visit before I’ve even had a chance to read the latest post, saying “subscribe now!”. Hey, how about giving me a chance to decide if I want to? I’ve heard some bloggers saying that these popups give them loads of new subscribers – how about all the people who didn’t subscribe because they found the popup really annoying?
10. A personality
Readers are much more likely to relate to a real person than some mechanical robot writer. Posts written with style, character and personality are far more likely to make a connection than a generic set of ideas that the author doesn’t even follow on their own blog.
What do you think? What makes people stop and check out your blog? What makes you stop and check out other people’s blogs? Is there anything else you’d add to or remove from this list?