Posted by RobOusbey

Hi there – I’m a blogger. Could help me? I read that massive post about ‘lessons learned from three years of blogging‘ and I’ve been brimming with ideas ever since. However, I’d like to attract more views to each of my posts.

OK, I can help you with that, by using one equation and five quick techniques to get you thinking. Here’s the equation:

Number of Posts Read = Number of Visits * Number of Posts Read on Each Visit

Rather than just trying to get more people to your site, we should spend some time talking about the final part of that equation – the number of posts read by each visitor.

So you’re going to help me increase page views?

Not quite. There’s a whole bunch of techniques to increase page views without increasing the number of your posts which are read. As an example: you can publish each articles over a number of pages, and make people click ‘next’ buttons – each single read of a post now generates three page views. Great for a spike in CPM advertising revenue, bad for a long-term play of not irritating you visitors.

OK, I get it. So where do I start?

One technique to consider is that of linking to related posts or content.

Ah! But I already do that – there’s a WordPress plugin I have …

The links in the sidebar or at the end of the article appeal to users who have finished reading and ask ‘what do I do next?’ These might encourage some people to read another post, but users might just wander off through any other link. Whilst they are reading, you have the visitor’s undivided attention – so offer them a few ‘next step’ sign-posts during the article.

For example: You could open the post with a reference to another post, and use a compelling title which encourages them to open it in another tab, and ‘save for later’.

Wait – is that what you did at the top of this post?

Indeedy. I’d also suggest doing something similar near the end of the post, so that you can suggest to the reader a ‘next step’ before they finish reading. Don’t let their attention wander – if they’ve read to the end then they are likely to be happy to read other pages that you recommend. And don’t scroll down to the bottom just to check if I’ve done it here – the answer is yes.

Right, I’ll intelligently include a few ‘related posts’ in the text. What’s next?

A basic idea that is often overlooked is variety. Shake up your style of posting and try some different formats that aren’t just text. SEOMoz has done this quite well recently, with regular videos, downloadable PDF resources, list posts, slide shows, etc.

This allows visitors to read more of your posts without succumbing to the strain / snow-blindness of page after page of similarly formatted posts.

Is that why you published this post in a Q&A format?

It wasn’t intentional – I actually pinched the idea from a mathematics post about the P versus NP problem.

Right. Keep my blog varied to keep visitors interested. Do you have any recommendations about style?

Yes, two actually, and I hope you won’t feel like you are ‘selling out’ to follow them. The first is to stay upbeat – reading a blog with posts that are consistently negative or miserable is tiring. It’s like talking to that guy who always sees the worst and moans about everything – you can’t wait to get away.

If your posts make the reader smile a little, then they’ll be more likely to linger in the ‘happy place’ you have created for them.

The other style point?

I believe that visitors will spend longer on a site if their intelligence is taken for granted, and they are made to feel clever. Avoid long explanations of basic concepts and let your visitors do their own research on any topics you mention which they aren’t familiar with. Similarly, there’s no need to oversimplify the reading level of your text.

Fortunately, we’re lucky that the SEOMoz blog is read by knowledgeable, professional types who are more than capable of reading about advanced concepts and know how to do their own independent research if necessary.

Aw shucks, thanks!

OK, one final idea about structuring your blog: remember that the snippets you display on category pages etc will influence people’s decision on whether to visit a page. However, as these snippets target current users, they may have a different focus to a snippet you would use offsite – say in an RSS feed, on a social book marking site, etc.

For example, you may choose to use this text when persuading people to visit the site:
      "A popular piece of traditional SEO advice is ripped apart by Rand Fishkin of SEOMoz. Of course we should just focus on the user – right? Find out why that might be wrong, and then join the debate!"

but on the site we should use:
      "You’ve undoubtedly heard the old industry adage: ‘Do what’s right for users and engines will reward you with higher rankings.’ This is tragically misleading, and this post covers specific tactics you must consider, beyond the purely user-focused aspects."

(By the way: if you’ve not yet had the opportunity, I do recommend reading Rand’s post about this topic and checking out the healthy debate it generated.)

Is this the bit where you hand over to the readers and ask for their suggestions in the comments?

Absolutely. Every post I’ve written for SEOMoz has been followed by some great additions, I’m keen to see what you come up with today.

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