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Strategy for maximizing page views

I was going to call this article tips for maximizing page views. But tips implies that what I suggest is going to work! These are merely thoughts and suggestions. I hope to encourage a bit of experiment and conversation with this post. Please use the comments and trackbacks to let us know if you try something as a result of this.

So, page views. A page view is not a hit, nor is it a visit. Total page views tells you how many individual pages have been seen over a given period. Dividing that total by the number of unique visitors gives you your average page views per visit.

How ever many you have, you want more. Page views are the add-on items of the web world. They’re the rust-proofing on your new car. The guacamole with your nachos. They’re where the profit is made. More page views = more ads seen = greater chance for your visitors to click on an ad.

Of course this is all completely moot if users are clicking on ads on their first or second page view. But if they were doing that we’d all be out shopping for Porshes instead of playing in Darren’s playground while he’s on holiday.

There are two main strategies I want to discuss here. The first is easy, the second requires some creative thinking.

Excerpts

Using excerpts instead of full articles on your home page can increase page views in two ways. Obviously, if you hook someone with a post title and opening paragraph and that person clicks to continue reading, she’ll have been exposed to two pages instead of one. Also, the ads on the second page should be more focussed on that particular post, increasing your click through rate.

Of equal importance is the fact that you can increase the click-able density of your home page. Instead of one post above the fold (the bottom of the first visible screen), you can have 2 or 3. Instead of 4 or 5 posts on the home page you can have 10. This may mean that you have to put some more umph into your titles and opening paragraphs. Which will help your clickthrough from newsreaders. Win win.

To make this even more effective, I’d add a “more” button to the bottom of the home page. Clicking this button would bring you to an index2 page that continues with another 10 or so titles and opening paragraphs. Click more to go to index3, etc. What a terrific way to get more mileage of your archives! (runs off to do this right away!)

Most CMSs have some sort of excerpt function. I know textpattern and MT have auto-excerpt plugins – you set the number of words or paragraphs before the plugin inserts a “continue reading” link. I’m sure other cms’s must have similar plugins.

Archives

Your archives are your biggest, most underused treasure trove of page view potential. Most archive systems (including mine) suck. Badly. They are hard to navigate, difficult to explore, and plain old useless. There is so much fantastic writing locked up in the blogosphere’s archives. I’m working on a plan to free some of that content, which I’ll share with you in a few weeks, but there are a number of steps you can take to recycle your existing work.

One option is to use a “greatest hits” list. I use a textpattern plugin to generate a list of most viewed articles that I list on the sidebar. This works, but its a rich-get-richer solution.

I’d like to add a “my favourites” list to highlight some of the overlooked gems. Pulling this list out of sidebar and sticking it somewhere prominent would be an interesting effect. Perhaps it could be made random, so each time a visitor checked in, the list would change. With textpattern this would be relatively straightforward (let me know if you’d like to know how).

Putting Excerpts and Archives together

Let’s take this another step further. What if at the bottom of each article you listed a random excerpt from your archives? If you used categories (you do use categories, right?), you could randomly select an article from the same category and offer it with a line like “If you enjoyed reading this article, you might find this of interest…”

This is really just a light skimming of topic. There’s enough meat in this subject to make for a book (hmmmm…). As I stated up top, these are merely ideas, and are completely untested. Yet. Perhaps some of you would be interested in exploring this in more detail? Feel free to shoot me an email and we’ll see if we can’t have some fun!

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Comments

  1. I personally suggest many Categories with each article being given liberal categories for two reasons: more links (connections) within the site, like a neural net) and because Technorati recognizes categories as Tags which aid in the SEO and BEO.

  2. I personally have an infinite number, myself, and add more all the time. And when I have a spare cycle, I try to go through and add multiple categories to each article, based on oblique relationships — and yes, sometimes I do push the envelope for relevence.

  3. Heat says:

    Well, I already use excerpts for my blog, which i found pretty useful when posting a long interesting Interview for instance…about the archives, i don’t know…maybe i’ll try it later…

    Thanks,
    Heat

  4. Having recent posts and recent comments above the fold is also very useful.
    It is also worth writing your posts to mention past pieces you have written, allowing you to link to them directly.
    I have never experimented with many Categories, but one thing I’ve discovered is to thing hard about the name.
    Many people search for product names, company names etc. and I spotted Google hooking straight into the index page of my Categories on a site I have, despite it only having a couple of stories.

  5. JohnO says:

    Nice drop-in with the categories. You’ve just given me a good reason (aside from the ‘tag-cloud’ idea which I agree with Zeldman is over-used) to use them on my blog.

    Although I’d like to draw attention to what you posted about the excerpts. You want to list 10 per page, with a “Next” button. Wasn’t the “next” link something we all agreed we hated in one of your posts. You have to decide, are you serving your users, or yourself :) (Always controversy!)

    How about.. excerpt’s based on articles viewed or not (attach cookies when someone views an article). So if you haven’t seen an article, you get an excerpt. If someone is brand spanking new, they get a custom welcome message (then perhaps a list of the favorite posts with that). Damn, I like that idea.. you’re all free to steal it if you’d like.. I’ll race you!

    *Disclaimer: comment cross-posted with the cross-posted blog-post*

  6. Josue says:

    I’ve been using the excerpt method for a while now and it increases dramatically the page views. Plus, which is more important for me, I get to know if people are really interested in my posts or not!

    The “next” button idea… I don’t like it. I prefer either to scroll down or to have a handy drop down menu, which is what I do in my blog. There is a drop down menu for the last posts, with the number of comments in each. Also, when you go to a category, it appears a related drop down menu with a list of all posts for that category, again with the number of comments. That way, the readers have two choices: to scroll down or to click on the menu.

  7. Josue says:

    I’ve been using the excerpt method for a while now and it increases dramatically the page views. Plus, which is more important for me, I get to know if people are really interested in my posts or not!

    The “next” button idea… I don’t like it. I prefer either to scroll down or to have a handy drop down menu, which is what I do in my blog. There is a drop down menu for the last posts, with the number of comments in each. Also, when you go to a category, it appears a related drop down menu with a list of all posts for that category, again with the number of comments. That way, the readers have two choices: to scroll down or to click on the menu.

  8. Vix says:

    One thing I’ve been toying with for longer articles is the paged solution. Rather than have everything be on one page, I’m thinking of separating content across several pages. Makes it easier to read and increases page views

  9. Jim Bob says:

    j

  10. Is there an easy to install script that would rotate articles (maybe 10) from your previous posts?

    I like the idea of new articles being rotated each time a person visits. Does anyone know of a script that does this?

  11. nickel says:

    If you have WordPress set to notify all linked sites, it’ll ping your own linked entries gving you a trackback from the older article to a newer one. If someone hits that older entry from, say, a search engine, there will be a trail to your newer post. This increases the value of linking to your own entries, as it creates a two-way street.

    fivecentnickel.com

  12. Ian says:

    I’ve got the full text of the most recent posts from all my niche blogs in a sidebar down the right hand side of my personal blog. At the moment I don’t have enough volume of traffic to tell if this makes a difference.

  13. I have been using the excerpt method for one of my blogs too, very useful. I tend to put a lot of my advertising for that blog in the sidebar, to show up in “single” pages (I use WP), but keep AdSense on all pages in the main code.

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