What makes a blog successful? Easy: readers. How do you get readers? That’s easy, too!
Track Your Progress
First you need to know if people are actually coming to your blog. If they are, what posts interest them the most? The best way to figure this out is to install Analytics on your site. Word Press has a few plug-ins available that will manage the tracking for you and give you a comprehensive traffic report right on your Dashboard. Once you know what your readers are interested in, you’ll know what to write to get them to come back.
Make a Schedule and Stick To It
Stability is the key. Blogs are a lot like sitcoms. You know that your favorite show airs on a certain night of the week at a certain time. Readerships are a lot like viewerships: they expect that your blog will come out at the same time every time. So say your schedule is to post a new blog every Monday at noon and you’re going out of town the following week. Not a problem! Word Press has a built-in feature that lets you schedule posts for delivery. You can post it and save it and Word Press will publish it to your blog automatically at the predefined time. Right above the Publish button is a line that says Publish: Immediately. Click on the link in that line and you can set a date and time for the blog to publish, then click the Ok button and the Publish button.
Don’t copy from other sites. Not only is it just a bad thing to do, but it can actually hurt your ratings in search engines. It takes longer to write your own version of something, but it also gives you the opportunity to add your own twist to it. Similarly, don’t repeat yourself too much. Using the same words and sentences over and over again will also damage your search engine ratings. But remember, it’s not the size of an article or the number of words in it that counts, it’s the quality of your article. And thinking that you will have an immediate response from readers is a mistake. It takes time to develop a quality blog and a devoted following, so don’t get depressed if you only have a few readers after a few weeks. Good things come to those who are patient.
Give Your Readers Choices
It’s in our nature to want choices. It makes us feel in control. Make sure that your blog has plenty of navigation options and users don’t get stuck on a one-way street. Breadcrumb navigation is a great way to give your readers options and it’s great for search engine readability. Also, consider a slider with promotions about your other articles, or a plug-in for “similar” or “like” articles. The tag cloud can also help with this.
Know the Power of Social Media
Tie your blog into some social media outlets, such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. There are a variety of services, and even some Word Press plug-ins that will allow you to connect your site to your favorite networks. There are even plug-ins that will automatically post your blog posts to those networks. You can also link to other Word Press blogs using Pingbacks, which also help with search engine rankings and will get you brownie points with other bloggers looking to expand their readerships.
In the world of blogging, a little vanity is a good thing. Drop links to your blog every time you get a chance. Get involved with other blogs and leave comments linking to similar articles on your site. Add your site to the search engines manually, use search engine optimization / promotion (SEO/SEP) plug-ins and services when possible and make sure that your site is SEO/SEP friendly. Remember, the goal is to get your blog out there so that people can have the opportunity to read it.
Spice It Up
Most blogging programs will allow you to insert images. And everyone loves images. Studies have actually shown that most people will read something they normally would not be interested in because it had a catchy picture. But don’t annoy your readers! It’s all too easy to insert a picture that takes up most of the screen and people have to scroll and slide around the page to get to your content, which most readers will not do. Make sure your images are a decent size, preferably a thumbnail size that enlarges in a Light Box or pop-up window when clicked. Also, you want to use file types that won’t be invisible for some readers because they require a special plug-in or program to view. All web browsers on the market today can view .jpg, .gif, .bmp and .png, so it’s best to stick with one of those. Always use alternate text and titles when inserting images. Not only does it give your readers a description of what’s going on in the image, but it’s great for SEO/SEP.