Before talking about your photoblog and changes I recommend, let me start by saying that if you don’t currently use a traffic counting plug-in or traffic tracking website, you’re making a big mistake. Unless you enjoy blindly posting on the web with no interest in who or how many viewers read your site, this is something to address today! I am personally addicted to Wassup (awesome SPY feature) and also use Google Analytics. The focus of this article is how to make the most of your existing traffic…however, you will need to be able to benchmark your current results to understand if the suggested changes actually work for you.
Readers of this blog notice I like to change my theme on a regular basis and there is a good reason behind this. Working on the web requires constant experimentation. If you are already happy with your results, then I guess no change is needed. But if you desire to improve your web results, change is in order. This photoblog has been live for about 14 months now, and along the way, the theme has changed 8 times. I would like to say that each time a change has been made, my results have improved..but that’s just not the case…However, I have learned a few things over time which do work on a consistent basis.
With this latest design, almost a week old now, my page views have increased 40% and bounce rate has improved (lowered) by 10%! These site traffic improvements were not a result of a new writing style or intriguing new topics, just a few simple changes that you, too, can do in one evening:
- Choose your theme careful - There are thousands of WordPress and Blogger themes to choose from, however, they must be appropriate to your topic. Simply selecting the slickest theme design with no regard to its relevance to your site will not yield the results you hope to achieve. Turn your computer off for a few moments and with paper and pencil, rough sketch what you think your site (again, relevant to your niche market) should look like. If you’ve got mad PHP and CSS skills, I guess you could create a theme, but for everyone else, you now have a starting point when looking at possible designs which could work for you. Once you have your theme, be sure you have the correct color scheme and header. All themes are hackable. Even with limited web dev skills, a quick Google search should point you in the right direction to make the adjustments you need.
- Above the fold jargon. You hear a lot about the importance of placing important content above the fold…but are you really doing it? Enter your URL into a browser and click submit. View your site as if it were the first time landing there. What is your eye drawn to? Do you have so many ads in the header that the content requires scrolling? Place the information most important to the mission of your site above the fold. For me, it meant changing my layout to include a menu bar at the top of the page, as opposed to the sidebar and footer. I have also included a site summary (along with a hand drawn pic of myself to add a little personal touch) at the top of the page as well. It is important to me that viewers understand what we’re about as soon as possible. Depending on how you promote your site, i.e., StumbleUpon, Propeller, Digg, Fark, and a host of bookmarking sites, you literally have about 1-2 seconds to grab the attention of your viewer before they leave.
- Internal linking. No doubt you have numerous posts already published on your site, but does anyone know about them?…how would they find them? Make it a goal to link to one previous posting within each new post. Sometimes we get too worked up about driving traffic to our site that we neglect what they do once there. Your goal should be to lower your bounce rate, meaning readers view other content besides just viewing the one page you promoted heavily and leave. Another solution on this topic, use and prominently display categories. Categories allow you to group/link together similar topics, making it easy for viewers to find the content they are seeking. In using categories, make sure to title them appropriately..and be as specific as needed. For instance, if you review cameras it may be better to break out a category for each model (Nikon, Canon, etc) , instead of just using Camera Reviews as a title.
- Site search. Many blog themes have, by default, a site search feature displayed…others, you have to elect to display it. This goes hand and hand with internal linking…Make it easy..REAL EASY for readers to find your content…it’s too easy for viewers to leave so do the legwork for them. In addition to having a site search feature, I also prominently display a site map, which lists every post I’ve ever written here. There is a great WP plugin to assist you with this…Google XML Sitemaps
In summary, growing unique visitor traffic does not happen overnight. However, the steps I’ve provided can maximize the total number of pages viewed by each visitor that does come your way. Hope you find this helpful and feel free to comment!