Improving Blog Traffic: 5 Must-Have Qualities
Back then, most blogs were daily ramblings of a personal nature with no high traffic or page views as target. Today, the situation is totally different as we see a variety of blogs created to achieve high traffic with many purposes such as monetization.
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There’re many practical ways to achieve high traffic like creating detailed tutorials that readers eager to learn, or talks about certain hot topic which targeted readers are interested to read on and comment. These methods are actually basic knowledge for most bloggers, but only few are successful in achieving high traffic with them. This is simply because they not only know how to do it, but do it well.
In this editorial post, I will be suggesting a few critical qualities that I believe such blogs must have in order to retain their audience and attract even more, in other words, achieve high traffic. These 5 must-have qualities will be the least it will take to boost the traffic with consistency remained.
1. Consistency – Managing Expectations
The rule of the thumb for such blogs is to be consistent. By consistent, I’m not just referring to the content of the posts or your personal views expressed, but also the frequency of your updates, your writing style and so forth. We are, after all, creatures of habits who prefer things to be in order, in manners which we can anticipate a certain level of standards. At the very least, consistency would promote loyalty for your readers who have gotten used to your unique blogging style.
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The content of your posts should be confined within the particular theme which you have set for your blog. If it is primarily a discussion blog on concurrent social or political issues, stick with that. Chances are that the narrower your topic is, the more specific your target audience will be, and thus the more likely your posts would appeal to them.
Consistency in your views should ultimately create a personality for yourself and the blog, so that your readers can relate to it. Of course, this doesn’t mean all your opinions will be cast in stones; you are definitely free to switch sides as you deem fit. Just remember that when people are reading your posts on a regular basis, your blog gradually get personified as a human being with preferences, opinions and even values.
Needless to say, you would need to feed your loyal fans with a regular dosage of posts, lest they seek elsewhere to satisfy that need. If you post three entries a week, you can stick with that. If you post just one per week, that’s fine too. The idea is to maintain a steady rate of posting, so that readers will soon form an accurate expectation on the frequency of the updates.
Writing style shouldn’t be an issue if you are blogging alone, unless perhaps your writings frequently fluctuate along with your mood swings! If, however, you are working as a team with multiple writers for the blog, you should standardize a certain writing format so as not to confuse the readers.
Then again, if you decide that variety would do the blog good by offering readers more opinions, you’ve got to show the readers clearly who the author is, preferably with a portrait photo for them to identify with. In such cases, the consistency factor is being played on the individual authors rather than the entire blog itself.
2. Credibility – Ensuring Reliability
Nobody likes to read a blog full of erroneous or inaccurate information. Neither do they enjoy posts that don’t provide enough opinions to give them food for thought.
You need to establish a certain level of credibility in order for readers to take in what you have to say. To do that, you’ve got to fathom the issue raised at the tip of your fingers. How? Well, if you are working in a diverse team, topics can be assigned to editors with expertise in those areas. At the very least, their research efforts will be channelled efficiently on a limited number of topics which they are allocated with, such that they will eventually gain expertise. If you are writing alone, you might consider specializing your blog on topics which you are especially knowledgeable with.
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Another way to show readers that your information is trustworthy is to cite sources. Doing this will not only give rightful credits to the sources, it will also provide readers a sense of assurance that you aren’t just assuming facts. As a matter of fact, citing sources is a standard practice in the academic universe to prevent plagiarism and such.
One thing to note though, is that facts are to be separated from opinions. It’s not wrong to voice your own judgments and arguments on matters, but it is a deadly sin to be inaccurate in what you proclaim to be facts. In the latter case, it amounts to misleading your readers. It is hence your responsibility as a blogger to get your facts right first. Do your research well before you start writing.
3. Focus – One at a Time
Have you ever had a group meeting where each member compete to give their take on the situation, fail to compromise with each other, and ended up going nowhere with the discussion? It’s kind of how it is when your posts becomes too diluted with too many issues at one go. Having too many arguments or questions in a single post overwhelm readers and render them clueless about what to discuss.
Yes, perhaps the purpose of your blog was to address a broad societal concern that encompasses quite a number of potential issues. As a whole, your blog should rightfully cover all of that in fair amount. However, when it comes to individual posts, try not to cramp too much info into a single entry. Imagine how messy the comments will be like if they do not refer to the same issue within the post. The discussion will be a very distracting one where everyone only wants to talk about the part which they are most interested in. It would be like the group meeting scenario I had just mentioned.
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So, be clear of the agenda behind each of your post. What exactly do you wish to bring to the table? What personal opinions and views do you want to bring across to them? How do you want readers to engage in the discussion through the points you’ve made? These are only some of the more generic questions to ask yourself before you decide on the approach for your piece of writing.
Fortunately, you can still moderate the discussion to some extent at the first sign of digression. If the comments seem to drift off to an unrelated topic, you can always post a comment yourself to bring the focus back on track. A superb way to do that is to post an intriguing question about the post and challenge everyone to comment on it.
4. Creativity – Trial & Error
This might seems like a contradiction to my point about being consistent, but it doesn’t have to be so. Your blog can be consistent, and yet not rigid.
Think of it this way. There is a boundary which you should adhere to, and that is where you maintain your theme of the blog, writing style, etc. Within the border though, there is a large space for you to roam and experiment with your blog. So long as you don’t go beyond that and obey the fundamentals of ensuring a reputable blog, you are free to think out-of-the-box and shakes thing up a little.
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Write in a controversial post, put yourself in the context of those who disagree with you or come up with a new design every once in a while. Play with ideas like these and see how your readers respond to them. If they react negatively, not to worry, because you would’ve already establish yourself as a consistent and reliable blogger. You can return back to the safe zone for your blog and abandon the concept altogether. If you sense that they like it, then you are one step closer to understanding what makes your blog ticks.
As they always say, you’ll never know until you try… within limits and in small doses though.
5. Engagement – The Community Spirit
A blog is pretty much a social gathering of like-minded people interested in the topics presented. I’m sure your idea of such a blog is that of an online community, where everyone gets information and ideas from your entries and share their personal thoughts with the rest. Everyone benefits as they learn from each other through posts and comments, and think critically about what were brought up.
Yet, sometimes we see that readers get a little passive and seem hesitant with discussing. Why is that so?
Well, it could be the way you write your post. In order for a lively discussion to occur, you need to provide some form of stimuli or trigger for the readers. It’s good practice to post thought-provoking questions at the end of your post since it will let readers know what to comment on and ensure that they don’t stray off-topic. If, however, you prefer an open discussion rather than directing it in any way, you can at the very least include in a line asking them to comment on what they think or feel.
(Image source: Yuri Arcurs)
Another way to incorporate the online community spirit is to give readers themselves a chance to post entries. As I emphasized on creativity in the previous point, you might try something novel and engaging for your readers by setting up a contest. As we all know, some blogs have the ‘like’ function for each comment posted, and that potentially indicate the popularity of a certain perspective or opinion. Readers can be asked to post a complete entry about their views on a specific issue, and the comment which garnered the most number of ‘like’ votes will get to be featured on the blog.
Also, make it a point to provide a convenient channel for the readers to feedback to you. In your blog, the readers are essentially your customers, and you as the blogger will need to address their needs and complaints. Put in your email address for them to contact you. Let them connect with you through social media like Facebook. Let them feel they are part of your blog community.
Author: Michael Poh
Michael is a freelance blogger and regular contributor for Hongkiat.com. He graduated from the National University of Singapore with a double major in Psychology and Communications & New Media in 2011.He believes in the power of the written word to influence and inspire. An enthusiastic video gamer, Michael is also actively engaged in various physical activities in his spare time.