Keep ‘Em Hooked: 3 Tools To Keep Readers On Your Site

I know you might find this hard to believe, but I actually don't know everything about fashion blogging. Crazy, right? (Kidding, kidding…) I've been working at IFB for over a year, but I am constantly learning new things about out community, the Internet(z), and the business of blogging. Lately, I've become really interested in seeing how much I can do to make my own blog reflect all that I'm learning and trying to encourage within our community. I know you know, this, but it isn't easy! With a busy life and so many things going on, it's easy to lose track of the little things I've been meaning to do to improve my site.

This week, the task I've given myself is to tidy up my pages and widgets, and employ some tools to encourage readers to stick around longer on my site. There are a lot of creative ways you can do this, and you don't necessarily need to use all of them at once. As with most tools and tricks in fashion blogging, it's about trial and error.

editorial, blogging, content, tools, blogging

Use a “popular posts” widget on your sidebar.

Depending on your platform, you might use either a widget (Blogger) or plugin (WordPress) for this feature. This is especially useful for drawing new readers into your deeper posts and greatest hits, who may be visiting your site for the first time. As they scroll through your most current content, they will also have easy access on the side of your site to see what posts have been most successful, or what you're “most known for,” if you will.

Install a “you might also like” widget that appears under each post.

This is something I have been meaning to add to my blog for, oh, I don't know – years. Seriously, what's my problem?! A quick Google search lead me to two oh-so-easy to install widgets: LinkWithin and OutBrain. Both function in the same way, using keywords and tags in your posts to aggregate “similar” content in thumbnail links below each post.

I chose OutBrain because as soon as you log in and give the tool a chance to crawl your site, you can monitor the success of your links with click-through rates and page-views through a dashboard, and adjust the settings.

This site has easy-to-follow installation directions for Blogger, but both LinkWithin and Outbrain have instructions for Blogger, WordPress, and Typepad on their homepages.

Create category pages along the top of your site.

I just recently expanded my “pages” tabs include the most popular types of posts I have on my blog: Personal Style, Music, Travel, and Reader Requests. (I already have About, Contact and Press pages.) I did this for two reasons, the first being that I wanted to encourage new readers to explore the different types of content my site has, and the second is to easily direct readers to the content they most want to see, and then stay a while to check it out.

I've created the same category pages for Eat, Sleep, Denim as well, to help readers find denim reviews, blogger denim style, and trend stories more easily. For both WordPress and Blogger, I created these pages by using categories (WordPress) and tags (Blogger). Go to a post that uses the tag or category that you want to use, and then click on it, opening up a URL that leads to all the posts with this tag or category. Next, create a new page on your site that redirects to that URL.

Using these widgets and tools isn't about tricking your readers into staying on your site. Implementing these tools and widgets is way to make navigation of your site more fluid, and access to your best content and the kinds of content your readers will want more of – easier. Even during the week before Halloween we're all about treats, not tricks!

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41 Responses

  1. Miška

    I think those are really helpful ideas. I need to try it on my own blog. I wanted to do it a long time ago but I just totally forgot about it. Thanks for remanding

  2. Kate Moss Daily

    These are great tips! Anything that keeps readers on the site (instead of bouncing) is wonderful. I’m already doing most of these, but I definitely need to re-organize my labels/categories.

  3. Candace

    Thank you for this post. I had no clue about OutBrain. Now, I just need to figure out how to get those thumbnails to work. 🙂

  4. Michelle

    If you’re using WordPress you can also try Related Posts Thumbnails, I’ve used this one and it’s similar to LinkWithin. One of the reasons I love it is b/c I like the fact that a woman created it {rare!}, it doesn’t have the widget/plugin branding in the bottom right corner of the thumbnail area and you can choose between having the images displayed based on tags, categories or both.

  5. Erica | cupcakes + coffee breaks

    I just got back into my blog (after moving overseas), and can’t believe I didn’t have the linkwithin widget already! Great suggestion, and huge oversight by me. Now I just have to get back into content development in order to populate the widget! Thanks for the tip 🙂

  6. Barbara

    I have linkwithin on my blog and I see a lot of click throughs from it. It sometimes does not categorise the posts in the same categories but I do like the fact that you see other posts when you get to the end of the current one being read.
    Lagos, Nigeria

  7. Carol

    Thanks for the info. I did wonder how other bloggers managed to get their popular posts to appear. Will go and find a widget for my wordpress petite blog.

  8. Kathleen Lisson

    Fabulous advice. I have all three of these tips active on my blog. I especially like Outbrain because the clicks that it gives show up on my Google Analytics. I can tell roughly what percentage of readers are clicking through to other hat posts.

  9. Bree

    I have all of these and I do think they’ve really improved the look and interest in my blog. I do think it makes my website much easier to navigate and for readers to find specific posts that interest them!

  10. Karina De Jesus

    I’ve been wanting to do the “you might also like” widget forever but was too lazy to look up how to actually do it. Thanks, Taylor, I’ll do it right now!!

  11. Amy

    IFB, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – you’re a mind-reader! I’ve been looking for candid suggestions and this takes the cake. Any thoughts on social media buttons & widgets?

    Lovely blogs, fellow commentors 🙂

  12. Sheryl Blasnik

    I am using NRelate for related posts. They offer the option of using a fourth thumbnail for affiliate marketing. Every click puts money in your account.

    Sheryl Blasnik
    Fashion Development Group

  13. Ana

    I love the ‘Related Posts’ widget – I discovered so many genius articles on my favourite sites through it 😀 !

  14. Elena

    I agree, there are so many ways to attract readers to your blog and make them to come back! I like LinkWithin plugin-very helpful tool! Great article!
    Thanks a lot for sharing!

  15. Heather

    I’ve had linkwithin for ages, and it is consistently onw of the top referers on my site. There are some things I don’t love about it though. It seems to just show three random posts, and I can’t block old posts that I don’t really want showing up. I think I’ll check out the related post thumbnail plugin for WordPress as it sounds more customizable.

    These are all very good suggestions. I’ve implemented most of them in some way or another on my blog and I do think they improve bounce rate. It drives me nuts when I discover a new blog, find it interesting, but can’t search the content or find any useful links!

  16. Karen Ussene

    Good tips, I actually use LinkWithin but sometimes it can be a win or a miss, sometimes it appear related post, whether is clothes, music, food etc but other time it puts post that are nothing related. So I’m gonna take a look on OutBrain and see if it works better.

  17. Nina

    This is great! Except for when I went to add either Outbrain or LinkWithin both said that they’re only for the installed version of WordPress ( :/ Does anyone know of an alternative that bloggers can use?

  18. FiFi Qin

    This is a very urgent reminder for me because I don’t use these widgets at all. Gotta redesign my webpage NOW!

  19. Iman

    I launched literally 2 days ago and I’ve already noticed the efficiency of “You may also like” widgets. It’s true that when I’m on a blog myself, finish a post, and am offered to read a new one without having to browse and scroll, I most often just do it.

    I need to implement this popular post trick as soon as I have more content !