About 18 months ago I made the discovery that I was seriously squandering blog traffic in a way I didn’t even know about.
Yet now it’s one of the biggest – and most important – ways I generate traffic to my blog.
This realisation came about because a fellow blogger asked me how I’d set up and organised one of the platforms provided for readers to follow us.
Two words – I hadn’t. I was basically squandering all the potential blog traffic from this platform.
What was it? Email subscriptions.
How much thought have you ever given to those who subscribe to your posts by email? Have you ever thought about exactly what they receive in their Inbox, the format in which they receive notifications that you’ve posted on your blog?
If you haven’t, you’re probably not alone. I’d never even considered it until my blogging friend mentioned it to me – and I’d been blogging for over four years. As soon as I did consider it, I thought about all the blogs I subscribe to by email. How many of them do I read purely through the email without clicking through to their blog? About three quarters of them. The emails I receive never give me a reason to click through to the blog… hence, lost traffic.
I’m reading their content, but the bloggers aren’t benefitting from it traffic-wise.
Think about how readers follow you
You have to think of ALL the ways your readers follow you and discover your content if you want to increase your blog traffic. Every day I see ways in which bloggers are squandering traffic left, right and centre.
For example, you can EASILY lose traffic if you’re not ensuring it isn’t lost via:
– Email subscriptions
– Feedburner/Feedly (RSS subscriptions)
– Your blog’s layout and content
These are ALL things you have complete control over. There’s no magic formula. No cost involved. No special skills required or equipment needed – just a one-off small investment of time is all you need.
Don’t make it easy for readers to receive content but avoid your blog
You need to make sure that everywhere that readers can access your content is set up so that they are made to click through to your blog and read, not read it elsewhere. The tips I’ve listed here are not limited… I may have forgotten many (hopefully you lovely lot will fill me in)!
They’re designed to help you grow your blog in quick, easy ways. Go forth and multiply your stats!
1. Your subscription email
This is THE one to get sorted (as mentioned in my opening paragraphs). Not taking any notice of what your email subscribers are receiving in their Inbox could be doing your blog traffic some serious damage.
The number one thing you should be doing to build a strong following and keep in touch with your readers?
Building a mailing list.
You won’t “lose” these followers in the same way you might if Bloglovin gives up the ghost, for example. You basically own the list and can use it to contact your subscribers in any way you wish (within the parameters of data protection in your country, etc. etc).
Subscribe to your own posts by email
Firstly, if you haven’t subscribed yourself to your own posts by email, do it NOW. You wouldn’t compose and send a newsletter without sending yourself a draft to check it first, so this shouldn’t be any different.
From this you can see what changes need to be made. Does the email entice your subscribers enough to make them want to click through and read? Does it force them to click through to your blog to read the post at all, or does it just show it in full without any of your blog’s beautiful design or layout?
Does it even HAVE a link to click through to your blog? Some don’t – I know because I’ve subscribed to them. I can read the blogger’s post, but the email doesn’t give me a link. I just read the entire post in my email. That’s no skin off my nose, but it’s no good for the blogger. It means no traffic, and no engagement.
If you haven’t checked this before, make it your number one priority right now if you don’t want to miss out on traffic. Now you may be thinking, I now know that the email my subscribers receive is lame and doesn’t encourage them to visit my blog, but HOW on earth do I change this?
Rather than me writing what is effectively a whole other blog post, here is a link to a post that explains how to optimise your Feedburner email in 10 minutes… easy! I did this myself at the beginning of last year, and was so glad I did because I realised just how many people were following me there and how my traffic wasn’t benefitting from them.
How I format my subscription emails
I now do my subscription emails a little (well, very) differently to how I first tweaked them to show just a truncated version (as explained via the link I gave above). If you’re not using Mailchimp already, I suggest you get yourself set up with an account. If you’re a WordPress user, you can feed your RSS into your Mailchimp account so that a preview email is sent out automatically every time you publish a new post.
Unfortunately Blogger (blogspot) isn’t that straightforward. I’m happy to be corrected, but as far as I know you cannot tie up a Blogger blog and Mailchimp so that new posts are sent out automatically by email. I spent several months looking for a way to do it, going back again and again until I came to the conclusion that Blogger and Mailchimp are incompatible.
I’m currently on Blogger, but will be migrating to WordPress very soon. I currently compile my email subscriptions manually for every new post – it only takes five minutes and it means I have complete control over the format, layout and timing. I also now “own” my mailing list outright.
Do you want a post about email subscriptions…?
As there is so much to cover on this topic of subscription emails, would you like to see a whole post dedicated to this subject and how to optimise what your subscribers receive? Would like to know how to collate email addresses professionally and legally and how to use them wisely? Do you know how to find the email addresses of those who have already subscribed?
If you do, let me know in the comments – and mention what questions you want answering…!
Meantime, here are the other four ways you’re squandering blog traffic…
Pin for later!
2. Not linking to your own blog posts within posts
If you’re not regularly linking to your own, relevant content on new blog posts you’re missing a golden opportunity to increase interaction every time you write something new. These are blogging mistakes that you want to avoid at all costs – if people are reading and enjoying your content they’re bound to want to read other things that you’ve written.
AS WELL AS LINKING TO OTHER POSTS IN THE LATEST POST YOU’RE WRITING, GO BACK TO YOUR MOST POPULAR POSTS. WHAT LINKS TO YOUR OWN CONTENT CAN YOU ADD INTO THOSE?
As well as linking to other posts in the latest post you’re writing, go back to your most popular posts. What links to your NEWER content can you add into those? As these are the posts that visitors to your site come to most often, don’t miss the chance to increase traffic by guiding them to other, equally relevant content.
And don’t link to a particular blog post just once, either. The savviest bloggers link to their best content over and over again because there are always new readers who will benefit from their best work.
Tip: Don’t hyperlink text such as “read this post” or “click here to read more” – use keywords as I did above. It’s better for your SEO, making you more visible in Google searches.
3. Not having an archive
This seems an obvious one, but it’s surprising how many bloggers don’t have an archive. Sure, you can offer a search box (well, you should have a search box), but remember that PEOPLE ARE NOSEY. They want to have a dig around your blog and see what they can find – especially old posts.
Or they want to find the post you wrote back in the summer but they can’t remember the name of the brand you were wearing, so they want to see a list of your blog titles from July… they’ll know it when they see it. Sure, categories and search boxes will help people find your content, but an archive helps them find everything.
I know a lot several bloggers who have said that they never look at people’s archive. They probably don’t. But an awful lot of people DO, and just because you don’t doesn’t mean other people won’t either. I always use bloggers’ archives, if they have one. I find it very frustrating when they don’t – I’m being prevented from looking at more of their content in the way I choose to look it up.
REMEMBER, YOUR BLOG ISN’T ALL ABOUT YOU. OF COURSE IT IS ABOUT YOU AND BY YOU, BUT THE “WORLD” THAT IS YOUR BLOG ISN’T ABOUT YOU.
Remember, your blog isn’t all about you. Of course it is ABOUT you and BY you, but the “world” that is your blog isn’t about you. You’re still writing it for others to find and read, hence it not being about YOU.
I can’t begin to imagine the time I’ve spent looking at old posts of blogs I love. Some bloggers delete old posts, and that’s fine. I don’t. I leave them there because I know some readers like to see what I looked like/was up to/was doing with the blog years ago, and I don’t mind that. It’s all extra traffic for me if they’ve got lost down a blogging rabbit hole.
4. Publishing posts in full on your homepage
This is something that I’ve totally reversed my thinking on over the years: Jump breaks.
A few years ago I did a reader poll to find out what readers thought of jump breaks (where you see a truncated version of the blog post that then says “Read more”). I can remember about 78% said they hated them, and for that reason I never used them.
However, the blogging landscape has changed exponentially over the last 2-3 years. To have a successful blog you have to be on top form in every area of blogging, from photography to design to marketing. And a blog’s homepage is now seen as your CV or resume, which should have a selection of posts that people can see to pick and choose from – and to get an idea of what your blog is like, and what it’s all about, and what topics you cover.
The reason for this is that many, many people land on your blog via links to specific posts. They’ve either subscribed to your blog via email updates (which you’ve now sorted thanks to point 1, above), clicked on a link from your social media, or they’ve Googled something and gone straight to the post that was relevant… in other words, your homepage is being visited by people who don’t know if what you’re offering is something that’s relevant to them. They probably just want to nose around for a bit.
Your homepage will be visited by people who have had your blog recommended to them by someone else. It’ll be visited by a brand or PR to see if you’re a suitable fit for the latest campaign they’re running. It’ll be visited by someone who’s clicked on a link to your blog from someone’s blogroll, or from somewhere you’ve been featured.
YOUR BLOG’S HOMEPAGE NEEDS TO APPEAL TO PEOPLE WHO DON’T YET KNOW WHAT THEY’RE LOOKING FOR. SO IF YOU PUBLISH YOUR LATEST POST IN FULL WITHOUT JUMP BREAKS, YOU’RE TAKING A 50-50 CHANCE AS TO WHETHER THAT POST IS RELEVANT TO THEM.
Therefore, your blog’s homepage needs to appeal to people who don’t yet know what they’re looking for. So if you publish your posts in full without jump breaks, you’re taking a 50-50 chance as to whether your latest post (at the top) is relevant to them. Unless you post on one subject alone and NOTHING else ever, chances are you’ll put off all the people who were looking for outfit inspiration but can only see a restaurant review and pictures of food after what feel likes 10 minutes of scrolling. After 20 pictures of food they’re not going to be bothered to look further for outfits – they’ll give up.
You need to have a selection of posts clearly visible on your homepage, and that means using jump breaks. One great picture, the blog post title and (possibly) a little bit of text is what you need to be showing for each. If they don’t like the top post, they only have to scroll down a short way before they can see the outfit post they wanted. Or the vegan recipe they know you specialise in. Or the post about the latest nail polish shades for this season.
Use the jump breaks! Don’t put people off and lose all that potential traffic.
5. Bloglovin is publishing your posts in full
Although Bloglovin used to be The King of Subscription Platforms (not anymore IMO), there are plenty of people who still use it regularly and want to follow you that way.
HOWEVER… Bloglovin does bloggers no favours these days – in the same way that your email subscription may show the full post, Bloglovin is now showing your posts in their entirety within its own platform. It’s basically another type of RSS feed.
BLOGLOVIN DOES BLOGGERS NO FAVOURS THESE DAYS – IT’S NOW SHOWING YOUR POSTS IN THEIR ENTIRETY WITHIN ITS OWN PLATFORM.
People following you on Bloglovin no longer need to visit your blog, because why should they when they can read it in full on Bloglovin? You want people to have enough of a teaser so you can pique their interest – then force them to click through to read the rest of the post.
How to stop Bloglovin publishing your posts in full
It’s easy to change your blog’s setting so that Bloglovin and other RSS feeds don’t publish your posts in full:
– Make sure that a jump break (“Read more”) is added to every post you publish, see point 4 above.
– Then check the settings on your blog are set to enable this…
For Blogger: Go to Settings > Other > Site Feed > Allow Blog Feed – select “Until Jump Break”.
For WordPress: Go to Settings > Reading > For each article in a feed, show – select “Summary”.
– Check your Bloglovin the next day and check that they are only showing a truncated version of your blog posts with “Read more” where you add your jump break (I always give these things 24 hours to change just to make sure).
Voilà – no more lost traffic due to Bloglovin and its conniving ways. Easy!
LET ME KNOW… ARE YOU SQUANDERING BLOG TRAFFIC? DO YOU KNOW OF ANY OTHER WAYS WE SQUANDER IT THAT I HAVEN’T MENTIONED HERE? COMMENT BELOW!
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