As I sat in holiday traffic backed up for a mile trying to get into the Lincoln Tunnel, I thought about how we as bloggers need to learn a lot more about traffic. Like children who put out plates of homemade cookies and glasses of milk for Santa’s midnight visit, we do all the right things to ensure that we will get the blog traffic we deserve. Or do we?
Just as all presents aren’t equal because some children get lots of cool toys and others get underwear and socks disguised as gifts, all blog traffic isn’t created equal. Here are twenty-nine reasons you might not be getting the quality and quantity of blog traffic you “deserve”.
Wrong address. Just as when inviting friends and family over for a holiday party, you may have given out the wrong address, you need to double-check your directions. Here’s what to look for.
- Incorrect or misspelled URL. Take care when sharing your posts and information. If you have a difficult to spell, overly long or confusing URL, consider an alternative.
- Not using Permalinks. Popular blogging software like WordPress can rewrite the URLs from each post so that they convey important keyword information to search engines. These so-called permalinks are not enabled by default. Check to make sure that your blog is using permalinks.
Content Wrong. Like giving the wrong present because you couldn’t tell what was inside the gift wrapping, your information may not be what visitors expect.
- Information isn’t relevant to visitors. While this can happen despite your best intentions, it’s important to make sure that your content is focused on the topic at hand.
- Search terms do not yield appropriate information. Are you inadvertently filling your post with off-topic search terms? Is your use of these terms confusing search engines?
- Titles not clear or consistent with content. How are you crafting your titles? Remember that online content, unlike traditional newspapers, needs to be very literal in order to be correctly indexed by search engines.
- Tweets not consistent with information. Are you tricking your prospects into coming to your site with misleading tweets? Once tricked, you loose credibly and possible followers.
- Same content published elsewhere. Are you developing new creative information or are you just rewriting what others have previously said? You can’t publish mostly me-too content and expect visitors to stay.
Too many holiday decorations. As a result, visitors can’t find the path to your front door.
- Too many ads. Does your blog looked like a Christmas tree plastered with ads and affiliate offers?
- Too much clutter. Can readers find the content that they’re looking for? Are there too many widgets and other distractions on your blog?
- Can’t find the blog. Do you send visitors to your website homepage when all they want to do is read your latest blog post? If they do come to your homepage, is there a well marked path to the blog? Is your blog in your primary navigation?
Don’t get past entryway. Just as some people don’t open their front door to let visitors in, your blog may be just as uninviting.
- No links into other information. Visitors read your blog post and the information is compelling but sometimes they want more. Have you handcrafted links to related stories? Did you include other links to relevant or explanatory content?
- Nothing there. Does your title have a great hook but your content doesn’t engage readers? Did you fail to deliver on your promise of a good read?
- Everything of value is in the first paragraph. Did you give readers a reason to keep reading? Remember that a blog post is a story. It must have a beginning, middle and end.
- Content is difficult to consume. Like your Aunt Betty’s baked bean casserole, is your blog content a big, indigestible lump of prose? Can your post be broken into smaller, easier-to-digest pieces?
- Too many spelling and grammatical errors. While a blog post should feel fresh and immediate, more than one or two errors marks you as an amateur and diminishes your authority to speak on a topic.
Poorly designed website. Like friends who ask you to walk into the back of their house through the mudroom, does your blog’s layout turnoff the visitor.
- Blog looks amateurish. Did your son or daughter design your blog? Did you leave your blog’s default theme unchanged with no personalization?
- Type too small. Have you made your blog inviting by using a readable typeface that most readers find pleasant to read? This is particularly important for older audiences.
- All talk. Like sitting next to Uncle Sylvester who never takes a breath or lets anyone else get a word in, does your blog lack other points of interest like photos, diagrams or videos?
- No ways to share. Have you made it easy for readers to share your content with their colleagues? Can your blog posts be printed as stand-alone articles without all the sidebars and social sharing links that are useful only to online readers?
- Too much work to comment. Do you force your readers through a long or overly onerous registration process before they can leave a comment?
- Too difficult to register for RSS or email. Do you have easy to use buttons for RSS and email? Are they prominently displayed?
- Looks like a cookie cutter. Does your blog look like it belongs to other prominent bloggers in your niche? How can you change it up to make it consistent with your own personal brand?
- Time to load is too long. This is often a technical problem. Make sure your images have the right resolution and size. If your blog is part of a corporate site, is the bandwidth constrained? Extra bandwidth headroom can be bought for unusually high usage times. Is this affecting other areas of your business?
- Design undercuts quality or seriousness of message. Is your blog design consistent with your goals? For example do you have a cartoonish look for a serious topic like finance?
No one’s home. A dark house is not very appealing (except to burglars). While you may use timers to have your house lights and lawn decorations go on automatically to give the illusion that someone’s around, your blog actually needs to show that someone is really home.
- Infrequent posts. Do you have a regular schedule to keep people coming back for more content?
- Poor response time. Do you approve and reply to comments quickly? Any reply, even a simply thank you, validates the reader’s interest and encourages his return and continued engagement.
- Posts don’t sound like they’re written by a person. Do you include any special details that give your blog posts life? Do your posts sound like boring press releases or are they filled with emotionless corporate-speak?
- No comments on any post. Realize that no one wants to be the first to break the ice. Can you invite friends or colleagues to leave comments?
- No tweets or social shares. Again no one wants to be the first to take action. Remember the wisdom of crowds. People like to follow the most viewed or shared content since others have validated that choice. Do you make it easy for your visitors to share your content?
Building sustainable traffic to your blog is both a science and an art, and it is not yet taught in schools. The right approach for your blog must be developed over time in a manner consistent with your brand, content and marketing goals.
Do you have any other suggestions for improving blog traffic? If so, please add your suggestions in the comment section below.
Here are related articles on blogging to help you build your blog and increase your traffic flow.
- 8 blog goals.
- 7 Points to Create Your Blog’s Personality
- 12 Suggestions to Overcome Blank Blog Post Syndrome
- How to Generate Blog Posts Without Really Trying
- 12 Ways to Grow Your Blog Audience – Flog Your Blog – Part 1 of 2
- 15 Ways to Expand Your Blog Audience – Flog Your Blog – Part 2 of 2
Photo credit: Joe Shlabotnik via Flickr