Do you ever feel like you are grinding your fingers to the bone type blog after blog only to post them and hear……wait for it……chirp…chirp….Dang! Crickets!!! You slap yourself on the head in frustration. How can you get people to read your blog posts??
After all, if no one is reading them, why are you writing them?
To improve the readership of your blog, you want to look at two areas: readability/SEO on the page and blog promotion. We will take an in-depth look at both of them in this blog post. Let’s get started with on-site factors to get people to read your blog posts.
Is your post something your target audience WANTS to read?
Don’t default to the automatic answer, “Of course, they do! I write good stuff!” It doesn’t matter how interesting or exciting your blog post is to you, if your audience isn’t looking for the information, or entertainment, it provides they won’t bother to spend the time reading it. Before you type the first word, do some research to find out exactly what your readers want.
Ask your readers what they want.
The simplest way to ‘pick your readers brains’ is to ask them. Remember when your elementary school teacher told you there is no such thing as a bad question? I don’t entirely agree with that because asking your reader the wrong question will bring zero useful results. But what is powerful is asking your target market direct and powerful questions that will reveal the answers you need. It’s easy to create a simple survey with tools such as Survey Monkey. Linda Formichelli tells you step by step how to write, promote and use a survey in this article on Smart Blogger. If you’re new to creating market research via surveys, take a few minutes to read that article.
Do you publish blog posts consistently?
If you are one of my regular readers, you may be thinking, “Not again with the consistency!” Sorry, consistency is key in many things we do but it is an essential element in getting your blogs read.
Look at it this way, Susy Enthusiastic Reader finds your post on Monday and is intrigued. She wants to read more from you so she bookmarks your site and comes back every couple days to see if you have posted again. (Or she subscribes via your RSS feed.) Depending on how intrigued she is, this might go on for a week or two. But if she’s not rewarded with another juicy bit of content after several check-ins, she’s going to move on to the new guy she finds. On the other hand, if you consistently post every Wednesday, she is rewarded and becomes a regular reader. Bingo!
Moral of the story: Post high-quality content on a consistent basis.
Make use of these blogging tools.
Use the elements built into WordPress and the Yoast SEO plug-in to ensure your audience finds those amazing blogs.
The biggest search engine, Google, processes over 100 billion searches a month. (Source) If you want to land one of the top spots, there are some tools you can use on your blog that are a part or your WordPress application. I’m not going to go in-depth about keywords in this post because I feel it’s well covered throughout the internet. If you’re new to this and want to learn more check out this article.
Tag your blog posts.
However, I do want to touch on the “Tags” box on the right side of your WordPress blog. These are the keywords for the specific post you are writing. As the following picture illustrates there is a line for adding your tags (keywords) and below you can see what you have entered. The post in this illustration was How Do I Find my Ideal Virtual Assistant. As you can see in the blue block, I’ve used tags that are phrases a potential reader might enter in a Google search.
A tool I depend on to optimize my posts not only for readability but for SEO, is Yoast SEO. It’s a free WordPress Plug-in with an optional pro version. Here is a look at it from one of my blog posts that landed on the first page of a Google search.
Take Advantage of this Powerful Plugin.
Yoast SEO is a powerful plugin with so many options that I am just scratching the service in this example. I want to draw your attention to the Meta Description, Keyword, and Analysis. The Meta description is what people will see in the search engine results.
Your Meta description has a length limit of 156 characters. You should include your focus keyword, explain what the reader will learn in your post and entice your target audience to click on your post in the search engines. While you should include as many keywords as possible, you want it to be readable and not just a string of words.
After you have entered the Meta description and focus keyword, Youst will show you an analysis of your post. Your goal is to turn all the items green of course but don’t worry if you have some yellow and even red marks. You will notice that Yoast gives you links to learn more about cornerstone content and stop words. Take the time to read these links to improve your score.
Next take a look at the ‘readability” tab. You will see in the images below that for this post, it indicates my readability needs improvement. Checking the reasons, I see these are minor changes I can easily implement.
Making these changes will improve your search engines results and ultimately get more readers to your blog. So now you have written the “perfect blog post” and have optimized every element on the page to attract your ideal audience. You are not done.
Promoting your blog posts.
Yes, blogging isn’t the field of dreams. You can’t write it and have readers come. Your work has just begun. Blog promotion includes social media, bookmarking sites, posting in directories and more.
Let’s look at promoting your blog on social media first.
You are probably most familiar with this method of blog promotion. “In 2016, 78 percent of U.S. Americans had a social media profile.” (Source) This includes all social platforms but the top two are Facebook and Twitter so we will talk about those two.
On Facebook, you should notify fans of your Facebook page each time you post a blog. Make sure you ask for their comments. You want to make sure you are posting at the optimum times your followers are surfing. There are many sites that will give you a general idea of when the average user is on Facebook but you should narrow this down to your followers. This is easy to do with Facebook’s Insights. I’ll walk you through the process in this short video:
Once you pinpoint when your audience is on Facebook, you can be sure to share your blog post at those times. Easy!
On Twitter, the best practice is to schedule 1 post every 8 hours for a total of 4 per blog post. This increases your chances of being seen by followers across all time zones. You should change each post slightly because if you post the same one 4x, Twitter will not display it. Make sure you include two or three hashtags and a short link to your blog post.
For any social media platform, include an image with your post as much as possible. Why? Content with relevant images gets 94% more views than content without relevant images. (Source)
That certainly makes it worth it to use images! Even if you are not a ‘visual’ person you can find or create appropriate images on sites such as GraphicStock.com or Visme.co. Follow these guidelines for the most effective images on social media:
- Your image should be related to the text of your post.
- Text within the image should be legible.
- Your image should be visually appealing and attention grabbing.
- Know what size image works best on each platform.
- Your image should be branded.
Finally, you need to promote your blog post throughout the internet with bookmarking and content creation sites.
“A social bookmarking service is a centralized online service which enables users to add, annotate, edit, and share bookmarks of web documents.” Wikipedia
Submitting your blog posts to websites that function as bookmarking sites or discovery engines will increase your SEO (search engine optimization) and enhance your credibility as an expert in your field by getting your writing in front of more of your target audience.
“Content curation is the process of collecting, organizing and displaying information relevant to a particular topic or area of interest.” Wikipedia
These sites are another platform to get your blog read. In some cases, you simply post a link and short description of your blog post. On others, you post the entire content.
This is the actual process and the sites that I use on every post I publish:
- Go to Pingomatic.com and add your link. This site alerts all the search engines that you have new content on your site. It’s quick and easy. You enter your blog name and url, choose the services you want to alert and then hit Send Pings.
- Go to Digg.com and again add your link. Digg is a curation site that promises to deliver “the most interesting and talked about information on the internet right now.” To list your post, scroll to the bottom and click “Submit a Link.”
- List your post on StumbleUpon.com. It is a discovery engine that finds and recommends web content to its users. Once you sign up for a free account you can submit your posts and people will start “stumbling” it. Because this is a community you will get better results if you engage in a little “stumbling” of your own to support your neighbors.
- BizSugar.com is an excellent place to list your post if you’re topic is business related. This is a content curation site for everything business. You need to create a (free) account to start posting. It’s a simple task that consists of clicking the ‘Submit an Article” button and entering a few pieces of information.
- Business2Community.com‘s mission is “to create an open community where business professionals can establish their thought leadership, increase exposure for their business/organization, and network with others.” Once you set up your free account you can log on to their platform and enter your post [Editor’ Note: Business 2 Community requires users to apply to become contributors. All applications are subject to a review process in which a review team determines if an applicant is a good fit to become a contributor]. This is a WordPress interface so it should be a simple task. If you are a regular blogger, you can submit an application to have your posts submitted through your RSS feed. This is so seamless it doesn’t require a minute of your time. I haven’t found any site more effective at increasing your Twitter shares, tweets and follows.
By now you may be thinking you don’t have enough time to do all of this promotion! But remember all the blog posts you can possibly write will be for naught if you don’t promote them. After you get the ‘hang of it,’ you can complete the entire promotion in 30 minutes or less. If you can’t dedicate that much time, you can outsource it or you might as well hang up your blogging hat.