No blogger starts out with the intention of driving traffic away from his blog. And we all think we know exactly what it takes to bring in the readers, keep them on the page, and keep them coming back for more. We even think we’re so awesome that all of those readers will bring their friends along, too. But your analytics is showing mediocre results and the echo of crickets is getting on your nerves. Are you sure you know what your readers really want?
In the beginning it is hard to gauge your readers’ feelings because you don’t have enough readers to really conduct a fair analysis. However, there are some key performance indicators that will help you determine what your readers want, and if you’re really providing it.
Are people leaving comments?
Comments are a good indication that readers are at least getting something out of your blog. If they like what they read well enough they’ll leave you a great comment and maybe even a question. If they really hate your content, they’ll also leave you comments telling you just that. But if your content isn’t sparking any interest one way or the other, if it’s just so-so and it’s not really pushing any buttons, you won’t have any comments at all. That’s where those cricket sounds are coming from and it’s a good indication that you don’t really know what your readers want.
How long are your visitors staying on your blog?
You can tell by looking at your Google Analytics if people are sticking around to read your content or if they’re just doing a fly-by. Look at your bounce rate. The lower the number the better. The bounce rate is determined by looking at your total number of visitors, how long they stay on your blog and how many pages they view while they’re there. If you have a high bounce rate then you know your content isn’t holding your visitors’ attention. They’re bored and they’re not sticking around.
What keywords are people using to find your blog?
While you’re looking at your Analytics results, check out the keywords that people are using to find your site. This is crucial. If people are using keywords like ‘coffee maker’ and ‘decaffeinated coffee’ and your blog is about tea, then you have a problem. You’re not using the right keywords to attract the traffic that would be interested in your content. You’re writing about tea and they’re coming to your blog to read about coffee. You need to go back to the drawing board and do some extensive keyword research and get your content straightened out.
How are people arriving at your blog?
And while you’re still looking at your Analytics, look to see what links people are using to find your blog. Where are your visitors coming from? Again, if they’re coming from another blog about coffee, to visit your blog about tea, that’s why they’re not sticking around. You need to either adjust your content to focus more closely on your keywords, or you need to focus on the keywords people are using to find your blog. When the two don’t jive you only end up confusing and alienating your readers.
Just how great is your content?
After you’ve eliminated all the other possibilities it’s time to take a look at your blog posts. Just how great are they? Are you giving your readers plenty of fresh information? Are your blog posts unique?
More important, are you writing content that engages your readers? Is it intriguing, thought-provoking, entertaining? Is it the kind of content that you yourself enjoy reading, or is it forced, bland and boring?
One way to find out what your readers really like is just to ask them. You can use polls or surveys on your blog or send them out to your list. Be honest about it, too. Let your readers know you need their help and they’ll come to your rescue.
Ask questions in your blog posts, too, and encourage your readers to answer with a comment. Don’t get discouraged though. On average, only 1% of your readers will actually leave a comment on your blog. That means if you get 100 visitors today, you might get 1 comment. So don’t gauge your blog’s likeability on comments alone.
Hang in there, do your keyword research, and check your Google Analytics to see how and why people are visiting your blog and you’ll have a much better idea of what your readers really want. Then polish up your content, open up the comments, and welcome everyone in.