You’re doing all the right things to make your blog popular and highly ranked in your niche.

You do extensive keyword research to rank high in the search engines for your important keywords.  You set up and stick to a blogging schedule, giving your readers fresh material to digest on a regular basis.

You perform exemplary onpage and offpage SEO tactics to maximize your traffic.  Heck, you’ve even written a really great ebook sure to entice your readers to opt in and get on your list.

Yet, with all this effort your blog is floundering.  You’re getting the traffic from lots of different sources, and that’s good.

But something is missing.

There’s no interaction, no buzz, no excitement.

It’s like being at a well advertised school dance with so much promise for a fun time, yet the band is so crappy that everyone just stands around and looks for the nearest exit.

So, what’s the problem?

Why is your blog looking like that high school dance where no one’s dancing?

It’s got nothing to do with traffic, nothing to do with SEO, and nothing to do with keyword research.

It’s got everything to do with VISITOR EXPERIENCE.

cool blog hangout

Is your blog a Super Cool place to Hang Out?

How do your readers feel when they visit your blog?

  • Do they leave after a brief look, not getting what they came for?
  • Do they browse through your post and leave uninspired?
  • Do they get frustrated trying to navigate your blog and find more posts that interest them?
  • Is your blog just not a fun place to hang out?

When you were a teenager, did you have a really  cool place to hang out?

You know, THE place where you and your friends felt comfortable and enjoyed life without parental supervision, at least for a while?

How great would it be if you could make your blog feel like that kind of place?

11 Easy Ways to Make Your Blog a Really Cool Hangout

Here are 11 easy ways that you can start implementing today that will make your blog the coolest hangout on the block:

1.  Write About What Matters to Your Readers

One of the best ways to make your blog feel like home for your readers is to write about what matters to THEM.  Too many bloggers write about what interests them at the time.

That’s fine, if your readers care.

Taking the time to understand your niche — their  struggles, fears and problems is time well spent.

Ask the right questions and you’ll learn more about them — lots more.

And once you know their problems, then you can talk about solutions.

If you can solve a problem for your readers, they’ll stick around for more!

2.  Build Their Trust

If you want your blog to be a cool place to hang out for your readers, then you’ve got to gain their trust.

In an online world where skeptics abound, this can be tough to do.

That’s why everything on your blog — your posts, your pages, your product reviews, your recommended resources — needs to be in your readers’ best interest.

  • If you write a blatantly self-serving product review, only to gain affiliate sales for a product that won’t be of much use to your readers, you’ll lose their trust.
  • If you “trick” your readers into opting in to your free offer and don’t deliver on the goods, you’ll again lose their trust (and you’ll probably never see them again).
  • If you promise to deliver a series of follow-up posts and don’t deliver, your readers will lost interest, thinking you’re  a person who doesn’t deliver on his promises.

It all comes down to being transparent, honest, and doing what you say you’ll do.

Trust is tough to earn and easy to lose, so tread lightly.

3.  Make it Easy for Them to Find More

The last thing you want is for a reader to get frustrated when navigating your blog.  Pay special attention to the layout and flow of your blog.

Is it easy to find things?

  • Are your posts logically linked together, allowing your reader to dig deeper into your content?
  • Does your blog have a Search Bar, to allow your visitors to quickly and easily find topics of interest?
  • Does your blog layout make it easy to find more information about you, your products, and your business?
  • Are your articles organized in to categories of interest to your readers, and can they easily find a search these categories?

If you can answer yes to all of these questions, your readers will camp out at your site yearning for more!

4.  Have a Clearly Visible Popular Posts List

Most people are natural followers.  They want to see what others find interesting and worthwhile.

Sure, they can scroll through your posts to see which blogs had the most comments and shares, but this takes time and most won’t do it.

Make it easy for your readers to find your Most Popular Posts by installing the WordPress Popular Posts plugin on your blog.

If you don’t want to use a plugin, then you can create a list of popular or recommended posts yourself and place it on your sidebar.

However you choose to do it, make it simple and easy to find.

5.  Display a “For First TIme Readers” List

Along the same lines as Popular Posts, you also want to give your first time visitors an easy way to discover what your blog is all about and give them a taste of things to come.

You can create a “For First Time Visitors” list of posts on your sidebar for easy navigation.

Another way is to create a Start Here page on your blog with a link under your header.  Clicking on this link will take your first time readers to a page dedicated to them, where you can craft a short welcome message, perhaps add a Welcome video to tell them what to expect on your blog, and then a short list of your blog posts that will give them the flavor of your blog.

However you choose to do it, it’s vitally important that you make your First Time Visitors feel at home and welcome.

6.  Make Your Blog Easy To Read and Pleasing To the Eye

There’s nothing so wasteful as great content presented in a terrible fomat!

Why?  Because even the best content will get skimmed, or even passed over completely if it’s hard to read.

There are easy ways to make your blog posts easy to read and inviting to your readers:

  • Write short paragraphs of no more than 2-3 sentences to break up the text
  • Use images to add to the visual experience of your posts
  • Use well placed subheadings to organize your thoughts
  • Make use of lists to get across your message.
  • Don’t make your post any longer than it needs to be – edit, edit, edit!

Be sure your blog design and layout isn’t too busy or complicated.  Here’s one place you really want to keep it simple.

Make your header need and clean with a short, well crafted tag line.  Keep everything well organized and easy to find.

7. Tell a Story

Everyone loves a story.  In fact, storytelling is one of the best ways to engage your reader and have them begging for more.

If you want your blog to be a really cool hangout, you’ll need to develop your storytelling skills.

Make it a habit to include a story in every post.

And do it early!  They key to getting someone to read your post is to engage them early, in the first 1-2 paragraphs.

I like to start my posts with a brief introduction and a story, because it gets my readers involved and curious about what’s to come.

Stories are great ways to hold your readers interest… use them to your advantage!

8.  Don’t Become Too Predictable

One of the worst things a blog can be is predictable.

This can mean predictable by way of writing about the same things over and over in slightly different ways.  Nobody likes rehashed information.

Your blog can also become too predictable if they only hear from you!  Interviewing others that your readers would benefit from is  a great way to break a predictable pattern of your blog.

Allowing guest posts from other bloggers is another way to spice up your blog.

Predictability can also take hold in the way your content is delivered.

People process information in different ways, and most have a preference in how they like to learn. Some like written text, others like videos and still others prefer to listen to someone speak.

Exclusively using just one way of presenting your material is a mistake, in my opinion.  By doing so, you can drive away whole groups of people who prefer a different way of getting information.

For example, if your new visitor is someone who likes to learn from videos and you never use video on your blog, that person will probably not hang around for long.

Mix it up!

In addition to written posts, throw in some videos, an audio message or two, maybe even link to some podcasts.

Don’t be predictable!

Your readers will love the variation and the sense of surprise!

9.  Make It Easy for Your Readers to Voice Their Opinion

There will be times when your readers wish to comment on something you’ve written (hopefully lots of times!).

It’s important that you make the process simple and easy for them to do so.

Here are 2 ways you can accomplish this:

  • Pre-fill information.  There are 2 great plugins that will automatically fill in your visitors information to the form fields in your comments section-  MaxBlogPress Subscriber Magnet and the WordPress Subscribers Plugin.  Both are easy to use and well worth the small cost.  Imagine your reader’s delight as they scroll down to comment and find their name,  email and website already filled in.  Believe me, they will appreciate this time saver!
  • Don’t use Captcha codes. I know that spam comments are a nuisance, but using captcha codes to stop them is annoying and unnecessary, using a neat little plugin called Growmap Anti-Spambot Plugin.  Instead of adding a captcha code. you readers will simply need to check a box indicating they are not a spammer and be on their way.

10.  Encourage Participation (Reward your commenters)

If you want your blog to be a really cool hangout, then you’re going to want others to participate, usually in the form of comments.  In #9, I talked about making it easier for people to comment.  Now it’s time to reward them for doing so.

First, it’s important to ASK them to comment and contribute to the discussion.  People generally won’t do something unless you ask.

Next, you can make it worth their while.

Using a commenter-friendly plugin like CommentLuv will allow your readers to show off their new blog post when they comment.  This will give you commenters some valuable link juice back to their blogs.

Another way of rewarding your commeters is to have a Top Blog Commenters post each month, where you highlight the top commenters with a short description of their blog and an link back to their site.  We did this for the first time last month and it was so well received that we are planning on doing this every month going forward.

There are many other ways to encourage participation in your blog, like having a contest for most comments and prizes for the best comments.

It doesn’t matter much how you do it… the most important thing is to encourage people to get involved.

11.  Make a Connection with Your Readers

Last, but possibly most important is to make a real connection with your blog visitors.

This won’t happen overnight, but here are a few ways to jumpstart the process:

  • talk TO your readers, not AT them.  Write your blog posts as if you’re talking to your reader one-on-one.
  • reply to your comments to let them know you appreciate their effort.  Ask questions to continue the discussion.
  • encourage your readers to connect with you on other social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
  • visit the blogs of your commenters and leave a comment on their blog.

Takeaway

Driving traffic to your blog is an essential part of your blog’s success.  But unless you connect with your readers and make it easy for them to take the next step, your blog will never reach the popularity you desire.

But make your content all about your readers and by providing solutions to their biggest problems or obstacles, and your blog will become a very cool place to hang out!

LEAVE A COMMENT and tell me that you think!

Bob Clarke

Dr. Bob Clarke teaches Part Time Marketers how to better leverage their time, effort, money, skills, and other people’s knowledge in maximizing their business success. Don’t forget to grab your Free Training Grow a Thriving Business in 30 Minutes/Day or Less — an essential resource for anyone struggling to build their business Part Time.

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Showing 34 comments
  • Anna
    Reply

    This was very helpful for my blog. I want to increase my readers and make them want to stay and read more.

    • Bob
      Reply

      Glad you found these tips useful, Anna.

  • Graig
    Reply

    Great post Bob- Building trust with your readers is by far one of the hardest thing to do becuase it takes a while to really build that realationship.

    • Bob
      Reply

      It takes a while, true Graig… but it’s the whole point of blogging in my opinion.

      People today are extraordinarily cynical and mistrusting.. it takes a while to crack that egg! 🙂

  • Reply

    Hi Bob and Rosemary,

    These are all great ideas but #5 is one of the best. We never really know where are visitors are in terms of what they are looking for so if we can at least those starting out a logical starting point to your site you stand a better chance of keeping them as regular visitors.

    Liz

  • Liz
    Reply

    Hi Bob and Rosemary,

    Great ideas, particularly #5, a first time readers list. You never really know where folks are in the internet business so giving at least, the first timers a logical start of things that would most attract their attention I think is a really good idea.

    Also of course making that connection and that’s where email marketing and having an opt-in list is really key as well.

    Liz

  • Calvin Williams
    Reply

    Hello,

    I Stumbled Upon your website. Nice title to this post and some great tips. I will use these to make my own blog better. Will Tweet! Thanks!

  • Armando Arias
    Reply

    Bob,

    You are right on point! Great tips and every single word in this post is true and valuable if you want to keep your readers interested and a cool place to hang out at! Love it…

    -Armando Arias

  • amit sharma
    Reply

    Having a eye candy design and the perfect color combination is something which makes a readers happy along with the compiled list above. I`ve seen so many blogs which are just using a eye catchy colors combinations and sometime made the readers to just love their blog.
    And writing about your personal experience is other thing which I adore about a blog, like yours. Now a days people aren`t interested in reading encyclopedia`s.
    Either try to write a post in a funny way or write your own experience especially if you are writing about Blogging tips and SEO sort of things. They left a good impression on the readers 🙂

    • Bob
      Reply

      Hi Amit,

      I find it’s great to have a pleasing design — it adds the the readers experience — but the real thing that compels readers to come back time and again is to become a good storyteller. Everyone loves a good story!

      Thanks for sharing your insights, Amit!

  • Audrey Ross
    Reply

    The way I see it, everything is all about user-experience. In the clothes you wear, the food you eat, the movies that you watch, and the blogs that you visit. For me, only people with passion will be able to pull this strategy off. People sense passion and respond to it. I think this is what makes great products (and blogs) great.

    • Bob
      Reply

      Great points, Audrey… thanks for sharing.

  • Hans Schoff
    Reply

    Hey Bob, great post topic: visitor experience. I recently took another look at my blog thinking I had been taking my visitors concerns first, but realized there are several additional things I can do to increase my visitors experience, to make it more useful, enjoyable, and overall valuable for them. What an important concept along with11 great strategies (to improve it) to boot!

  • Azhar
    Reply

    For successful blogging it is very necessary to be caring about your readers.A blogger must manage list of his posts so that a visitor can easily search what he wants. Life of a blog is because of visitors.

  • Donna Merrill
    Reply

    Oh boy do I need to do more work on my blog! You have given me so much inspiration and I thank you. I find that when I do videos on my blog, I get more responses. I keep it short, usually no more than two minutes so people would actually stay on. My responses to videos in my blog are great. Some go the extra mile and email me or FB me and say things like “hey you cut your hair!” Videos get people to see who you are and it becomes more friendly.

    I do, however, need to bling my blog up with your other suggestions.
    thanks so much.
    Donna

  • Radu
    Reply

    Hi Bob,
    Wow! What a beautiful post. You wrote it from the heart:) There is no accident that your blog is so popular. You make it be this way. I love all the tips here, especially number 8, 9and 10. Always make your visitors ask : What he will do next. The mixed content idea is great (I will apply it this week). Also, the top commentators plugin will increase the level of interaction.. people react very well when they are rewarded and appreciated.

    These tips must be printed and added on a visible place .A lot of value here.

    Thanks for sharing,
    Radu

    • Bob
      Reply

      Glad you enjoyed the post, Radu… and happy to hear that you found points that you will consider using on your blog.

      We appreciate the kind words of support!

  • Reply

    Wow! Thanks for the comprehensive list of strategies. You are leading the way in showing how to add value for your readers. My two biggest takeaways are a) to tell a story, whenever possible; and b) to make every single thing on your blog, including affiliate products, all about your readers. It’s a challenge to find out what readers are wanting, but I”m sure there are more suggestions about that in the article you highlighted within this post. Thanks for the great information.

    • Bob
      Reply

      Hi Steve, thanks for stopping by.

      You’re right, it does begin and end with the wants and needs of your readers. It is so important to hang out where they do, listen to the conversation and really understand your readers. When you do that, the rest falls into place.

  • Meg
    Reply

    Great BOB you have shared very important and effective points concern to this.

    I am going to follow is from right now only….as many are know to me and many are new to me.

    So thanks a lot for this.
    Have a wonderful weekend.

    • Bob
      Reply

      Glad you found this post useful, Meg.

      Enjoy your weekend!

  • Adrienne
    Reply

    Ah thank you for saying that Bob, I appreciate that so much. So happy that you feel that way. I guess it’s not so bad then huh! 🙂

    • Bob
      Reply

      You are amazing, Adrienne! Keep leading the way!

  • Tosin
    Reply

    Hey Bob,

    Great post here! And I mean it with!

    It’s not sheer luck when we find alot of interactiveness on a blog. I have always known that bloggers whose visitors are interactive must have put conscious efforts to making it truely so.

    I love the point about making it easy for the visitors to find more. Sometimes I get to a blog and I dont see posts on the sidebar. I dont see popular posts or some really awesome posts that other visitors have seen and loved.

    Of course that does not encourage me to continue digging.

    In fact linking posts in posts is not just good for the visitors, it is great for on page SEO too.

    Thanks for sharing these tips, Bob!

    ~Tosin

    • Bob
      Reply

      It’s so true, Tosin. When I can’t find what I’m looking for on a blog, I don’t have the time to dig…I go elsewhere! This is something we need to plan for and see through our readers eyes.

      Thanks for the kind words, Tosin… it’s always great to have you here!

  • Christina
    Reply

    You two ROCK! This post was so good, so many great tips that a person should know and DON’T! I learned many things myself, things that I didn’t know such as “The First Time Readers List” LOVE THAT!
    I’ve had some very personal things happen in my life these past 8 months and put my blog on the back burner for a while… so I’m just wanting to find some great fresh, fun ideas so re-launch my blog… You’re blog is so helpful and I’m going to start implementing a few of your helpful tips! Thanks!

    I will be back soon! Thanks so much for giving to your readers…

    Take Care,
    Christina

    • Bob
      Reply

      Hi Christina! Thanks for the kind words and encouragement. It means we are on the right track!

      Glad you are getting the opportunity to get back to blogging! Looking forward to reading it!

  • Adrienne
    Reply

    Great ideas Bob and I do the majority of what you suggested but not all. I still see a few areas I can improve. Like #5, oops… But then I would have to think, what’s the most important information that would help them the most. Gosh, I’ve got so much stuff to share.

    You’ve given me some more good ideas though. There’s always room for improvement wouldn’t you agree?

    Thanks for these tips, really good one you’ve shared.

    Adrienne

    • Bob
      Reply

      Hi Adrienne, glad to see you!

      You definitely have nothing to worry about! I’ve spent a lot of time over on your blog because it’s so full of great insights and it always seems like you’re speaking directly to me. This is indeed the biggest compliment a blogger can get, don’t you think?

      Bob

  • Karen
    Reply

    Thanks for these tips. I especially like the tip about not being too predictable. Sometimes, when you have a story to tell, it’s easy to forget to stop and think about whether or not this is something that your readers will predict from you. It’s something I’m definitely going to keep an eye on from now on when writing my posts.

    • Bob
      Reply

      Very true, Karen… predictability is boring for our readers. Varying formats is very effective.

      Definitely look for more video and audio here on our blog, and I’ll be sharing the best ways to do it!

  • Richard Goutal
    Reply

    Definitely some good ideas for my own blog. I like the idea of a box with links for new visitors. I wonder a lot about using a single static page for that and also the pros and cons of having a static page vs the list of posts as the first thing that people see when coming to the blog. Maybe a box in the sidebar with links could include a link to a static page.

    But I think your most confounding yet important point is writing about what visitors want to read (vs what I want to write about). That takes a lot of judgement, and, as you say, honing in on your niche to “get it.”

    • Bob
      Reply

      Hi Richard,

      I agree — it can be a daunting dilemma when we have exciting things to write about that may not exactly be what our readers want or need to hear. But from reading your blog, it always seems like you are speaking directly to your readers and have their best interests, so you must be doing something right!

      Talk soon!

      Bob

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