5 Ways to Keep Readers on your Blog

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What's your blog's bounce rate? Do you know what “bounce rate” is?

bounce rate is the percentage of people who arrive on your site and leave without visiting a second page

There's a lot of discussion online about what's a good bounce rate, and it depends on the type of site you have, but generally, around 50-60% is good benchmark. If it's 50%, that means that 1 out of every 2 people who visit your site go deeper, and click on an internal link. My main blog has a 50% bounce rate, but my coupon codes blog has a 70% bounce rate, which is exactly where I want it, because the goal with the coupon codes blog is to get readers to exit and buy via my links. But with my main blog, I'd like them to stick around, join the conversation, and find something that will entice them to come back.

There are ways to make your bounce rate better (decrease it) if yours it too high. Most importantly, you should deliver the kind of content you “promise” with your keywords. But here are some other ways to keep readers on your blog:

Related Posts

I use the LinkWithin plugin, but I'm sure there are others that are also good. When I look at my stats, the LinkWithin widget at the bottom of every post is consistently one of my top internal “referrers,” which indicates that readers are finding them useful, and that they entice them to poke around the site more.

About Page

One of the top pages on my site is my about page; I have it linked to in the sidebar (at the top) and via the top navigation on my site. I also have a link at the bottom in the footer, and sometimes I'll link to it in the body of a post if it's relevant. Linking to your about page from several locations on your site is essential for creating a relationship with your readers. If they come to your site and like what they see initially, one of the next things they'll look for is more information about YOU. Use your about page to get a little more personal, and maybe add links to some of your favorite posts.

Engagement

Sometimes asking questions at the end of a post gets a bad rep, but I have found that it increases reader participation and encourages conversation around blog posts. If you don't ask a question in your posts, at least encourage readers to share stories, or add their input; this goes a long way towards creating a vibrant and loyal community on your blog, which will keep readers on your site, and then coming back for more. If a first-time reader sees that you answer comments and really engage with other readers, they'll be more likely to read more.

Popular posts

There are plugins for this too, but you can also rotate links in your sidebar by changing them out every week. Readers love to see what content on your site OTHER readers love, so this is a very important component to keeping them on your site. keeping track of your popular posts also helps YOU to keep track of them and update them as necessary.

Archives

Always have a link to your blog's archives somewhere on your site (mine are in the sidebar). I also use the Smart Archives Reloaded plugin to create a detailed archive page for my site that lists every post for the last nine years. Again, linking to existing content and making it as easy as possible for readers to find and go through is essential for keeping them interested, and wanting to come back.

Of course, producing consistently good, relevant content is the most important factor in acquiring and keeping readers on your blog, but the things I mentioned above are also great, easy ways to help it along. What have you found that helps keep readers on your blog? Have you successfully decreased your bounce rate over time?

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13 Responses

  1. Anastasia

    I guess that “producing consistently good, relevant content” remains the KEY point, the main reason for readers to come back, explore old posts and to share it with friends. Linking to About page as much as possible, asking questions to start the conversations and e.t are good tips, no doubts. But without a unique and interesting contents nothing would help, that is for sure. How much successful bloggers are striving to target their readers with questions? Not that many. Links to their about page? At times you barely can find this page on their blog. Many of them are barely creating a text content and moreover create a pretty high profile image without communicating with their readers. But they are STILL so successful and have millions of unique visitors! So in my opinion the main goal must be to keep improving the content. And IFB is a good example, by the way!

    Anastasia

    http://fashionpeekaboo.com/

    Reply
  2. Joelle

    I could not agree more with adding the Link Within plugin. As soon as I added the the plug in to my blog, my bounce rate dropped dramatically – I almost couldn’t believe it!

    Another thing I’ve noticed is simply consistency – I myself am more likely to click around someone else’s blog if I notice that their posts are current and consistent. For that reason alone, I try to post once every 2-3 days.

    Joëlle
    http://www.lapetitenoob.com

    Reply
  3. Emma

    This is really handy to know, the tip about “related posts” is a good one. I try to link to former posts in my content too. I’ve found Pitch & Post, a UK site really useful too: http://wp.me/P2NwhJ-3l

    Reply
  4. Mrs C

    Good tips! I have to agree on About Me page.. it is one of the most visited post on my blog also the popular posts on the side 🙂

    Reply
  5. HauteFrugalista

    I think is all about interaction. Content is very important, but as a reader myself, I like to feel there is a continuous flow of conversation between the writer and myself. We all love comments and likes and shares, but what about reciprocating? I feel that maintaining an engagement with my readers, aside from interesting content, is what makes them come back and look for more.
    Xo,
    Dee Trillo
    http://HauteFrugalista.com
    @HauteFrugalista

    Reply
  6. Emmett

    Great tips, I really should do a popular posts sidebar. I keep meaning to but haven’t gotten around to it.

    I find the linked within widget is great however is a interested in more tips on it. I find sometimes it links to deleted posts or it just links to the same posts over and over. Any advice on this?? Thanks!

    Reply
  7. em

    i hate blogs without archive… or “not visual” archives… no one has time for clicking all links to find something interesting… popular posts sidebar, and similar post are very important too
    good post.

    http://emfile.tumblr.com/

    Reply
  8. Michelle

    I am a new blogger too and recently found your website via another blog I was visiting. I am finding your website very useful! Great tips and suggestions to improve my blog. Thank you!

    Reply
  9. La Gamine

    Great post! I was just looking at adding a related post plugin to my site and instead of popular posts we’re doing a “Feeling Lucky?” button on the sidebar that will take you to a new random post every time you click. Thanks for the tips!

    xo
    http://www.cherchezlagamine.com

    Reply