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7 More Techniques to Make Your Blog Sticky

In 21 Ways to Make Your Blog or Website Sticky I shared a long list of ways to help first time readers ‘stick’ to your site and become loyal readers. The comments on that post triggered a number of other ideas for making sticky sites that I want to add. Thanks to everyone who has contributed their experience – there’s some great conversation in the comments on the previous thread already.

I’m going to continue the numbering from the last post and so kick of this new list at #22.

22. Monitor Your Stats

Alex – made the observation in his comment that a key to site stickiness is monitoring your blog’s stats to see when spikes of traffic are occurring.

This is right on the money. A spike in traffic coming in from another blog or social media site can come and go in hours and unless you’re aware it is happening you’re not able to optimize the post and capture some of the traffic. Some of the general principles of good design, invitations to subscribe will capture some of it but you’ll not be able to tailor the post.

While you can’t be awake 24/7 it can be worthwhile to check in to your blog’s metrics quickly throughout the day to see if there’s any unusual activity.

23. Use Video

A number of readers (like Claudine) suggested using video as a technique to keep people on your blog for longer (and thereby increase their engagement with your site. This is very true.

I find that since adding video posts to my blog’s front page here at ProBlogger the ‘time on site’ statistic for my blog has increased by about 10-20%. This is not a massive increase and it goes up higher on days that I post new videos but it is significants because it not only means people are on your site longer it means that they are exposed to your branding, voice, ideas, advertisers, links to other content and invitations to subscribe for longer (most of which increase the chance of them remembering your blog and coming back).

24. Membership

Raag commented that he offers his readers an option to become members of his site and gives them free downloads when they do.

Membership isn’t something that I’ve experimented on my blogs (although as mentioned in the previous post I do have a ‘forum’ which has membership) but it makes sense that membership would increase reader engagement – or at least it would for those who actually join.

The only danger that I see with ‘membership’ is that if you require it to make comments or use basic features of your blog (like voting in polls or contacting you for example) then it puts a barrier between people lurking and participating in your site. While it’s good when people make the leap to ‘join’ it could also isolate and put off some readers.

Having said this – I think an option for membership for those who want more could really help a lot.

25. WP Sticky

I have not tested this one but 1 HappyBlogger suggestss that the WP Sticky plugin can be used to make a post into an announcement that stays at the top of your page.

This post could be some kind of an invitation to subscribe, list of top posts, welcome etc.

I’ve not used this type of thing and probably would prefer to target specific users with announcements but it could be something to try.

26. Niche Blogging – Staying On Topic

Jayaprakash makes a good point in comments about ‘specific content’ and reminded me that one of the benefits of building a blog focused upon a ‘niche’ topic is that it becomes a selling point for people to keep coming back for more.

When you have a blog that is unashamedly focused upon a particular topic you’ll attract people who share that same passion and interest in that topic.

As a result – staying on topic and promoting the fact that you’re focussed on a niche becomes important.

27. Create a Debate

One other technique that I should have included yesterday is that of ‘debates’.

I mentioned yesterday that interactive sites were ‘sticky’ but to extend that idea – creating areas for users to debate controversial topics can also be very sticky sections of a blog.

When you pick a topic that people feel passionate about and then invite them to have their say you’ll find that readers not only have their say once – but will quite often come back again to read what others have to say and then respond to that.

While you should be a little careful about creating debates that get too heated and personal (you can create a culture on your blog where this can hurt your community) a well managed debate can go for weeks and create a real interest for readers on both sides.

28. Write a Reference Page

Lastly – in my last post I observed a recurring comment from readers that went like these:

  • “I’ve bookmarked this and plan to go back through this content with a checklist.” – Adam
  • “I will be referring to this often for reminders.” – Bsigirho
  • “I think I’ll be returning to this post again and again.” – SystemsThinker

It struck me as I read these comments that one of the best ways to build a sticky BLOG is to build a sticky POST – or a ‘reference post’ that people will come back to again and again over time.

When you build a comprehensive post that summarizes a lot of tips in the one place and that makes an impression you’ll find readers keep coming back to it because it is useful to them over time.

A brilliant example of this for me is Brian Clark’s 10 Sure-Fire Headline Formulas That Work which is a collection of 10 great templates for blog titles that I know many bloggers return to on a regular basis because it’s so useful to them on a daily basis. Create these kinds of evergreen posts that contain a lot of useful and applicable information and you’ll create a page that people just can’t stop visiting.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. For some reason, one of my first posts got a wave of traffic from StumbleUpon recently. Luckily, I was able to catch it early and do some tweaking on the page to make it look better (my early posts weren’t very spiffy!). I added a little reminder to subscribe to the RSS or email updates and my feed numbers went up 10%!

  2. LiviuX says:

    This will not work if you don’t have big traffic. : 27. Create a Debate

  3. I will be implementing all these 21 + 7 Techniques in my blog http://Technotip.org

    Wish me best-of-luck guys/girls…. and please help my blog be sticky (heheheee..) :)

  4. I will be implementing all these 21 + 7 Techniques in my blog http://Technotip.org

    Wish me best-of-luck guys/girls…. and please help my blog be sticky by visiting http://technotip.org (heheheee..) :)

  5. Some of these are better than the first bunch of sticky techniques.
    I’m interested in finding out if anyone has seen increases in returning visitors or subscribers that can be attributed directly to adding video.

  6. Grizzly Adam says:

    All of these are good ideas. Hopefully I can make a few of them ‘stick’.

  7. Sue says:

    Deep linking to related content is the number one sticky for my site. I also use a plugin called “In-Series” that lets you organize your posts into a series. It’s similar to Related Posts (which I also use), but this one lets you organize the posts into a specific series.

    Another thing I did is to use a technique that allows me to display the latest featured posts as a slideshow in my sidebar. That way, someone coming into the site from a search engine and landing on a single page/post will see the latest 5 featured posts and click on them to read.

    Also, if you have a popular post, don’t be afraid to go back in and edit it to update it with a link to any further info. That’s another one I use, with a css style to make it stand out from the old stuff.

    All these have helped me keep (some) visitors to my site for 20 minutes or more reading. And this is all without using any social bookmarking, because the readers I’m targeting wouldn’t have a clue about it anyway.

  8. Adam Singer says:

    Wow thanks for the link love, Darren! you rock! =)

  9. Teddy Towncrier says:

    We’ve included 3 streams of daily fresh content.

    It’s a nice backup if I don’t have content handy

  10. Raag Vamdatt says:

    Hi Darren,

    Thanks for including one of the things that I do as part of your list – it’s like the highest level of approval for a beginner!

    And you pointed out a flaw that I am guilty of – Initially, I had restricted polls and comments to members. And as everyone can imagine, hardly anyone voted or commented.

    This made me think about opening up the polls and comments to non-member visitors as well – and when I did that, the participation zoomed up!

    So now, membership previlages are participation in the forum, ability to ask a personalized question, downloads (various income tax forms and spreadsheets – I write about personal finance) and ability to share tips with others.

    And that has proved reason enough for people to register :-)

  11. Edward Lomax says:

    Here is something else you can do to make your blog sticky.

    Create Pages on your blog that teach something step-by-step. The pages point to posts on your blog in the order they should be followed. It is like giving a tour of your blog… making sure the visitor finds what they are looking for.

    This keeps people on your blog longer or keeps them coming back to access the info.

    A lot of blogs have great info… you just can’t find it in any logical order.

  12. amirulcyber says:

    Thank darren for such a useful article.

  13. orionstarr says:

    Thank for this post, very helpful!

  14. Ryan McLean says:

    I like how you gave a tip in your first thread to do a follow up post on more popular post….and you did!
    You did 9 more tips to make your blog sticky. I am going to implement most of these tips.
    I am thinking of running a series on my blog and I have a great idea in mind, also I want to run a competition. I would love tips on how to practically run a competition. Like how to monitor entries and how to pick a winner etc.
    Thanks for the post, your blog is helping me run my financial blog a lot better. thanks darren

  15. Robin says:

    I think another thing to do is to use a “random posts” plugin – I’m sure this has taken people deeper into my blog. It can go in the sidebar or under the comments fields. (At the moment I’m using a related posts plugin under the comments, with the name changed to ‘random posts’ – they seemed pretty random, anyway!)

    I found out about this over at Blogging Without A Blog, here:
    http://bloggingwithoutablog.com/feff-how-to-get-more-hits-on-old-posts/

  16. Fitz says:

    One plugin that’s been helping me a lot in making my blog sticky is the Welcome Plugin:

    http://www.tankmiche.com/proj/welcome-plugin/

    It makes a more personal connection to your visitor. I think it’s even better than “What would Seth Godin do?” plugin.

  17. rjleaman says:

    I have an idea that adding the video to your blog did more for stickiness than simply keeping people on the page longer. More and more, I am becoming convinced that the solution to information overload is personal connection – Brilliant though technology may be (and delightful though it is to be able to connect online with people many timezones away), we humans continue to be draw to the human face, to the human voice, and to a sense that we’re dealing with someone we ‘know’ rather than simply the words on page or screen. There is no substitute for content of value, of course – but I would argue that valuable content alone will do only for search engine traffic; to keep visitors clicking around to read more widely on your blog, I believe, takes the ability to reach out and shake their hand as it were. Video does that better than anything.

    Great series, Darren, by the way: not only for the tips, but for the thoughts they spin off!

  18. Fotografo says:

    Thanks. Useful tips for our work.
    I believe that stay focused in your niche is really important.

  19. Hi Darren,
    Thank for writing 2 very informative posts, I know I will come back here to reread and use some of your advices.

    Tanny

  20. I would say “creating a debate” would probably be among the most effective.

  21. Eric says:

    Hey Darren,
    The link to the original article is not pointing to the original article. :)
    Thanks for the update post.
    Eric

  22. Darren,

    I do monitor my blog, think about any thing, like keywords and search terms… all of them. I do like WP STICKY too.

  23. Jess says:

    I’ve been following your tips Darren – making gradual changes at a time – and just went I thought things couldn’t get any worse..my traffic increased heaps. It went from 30 unique visitors a day to 145 a day . so I think things may be starting to look better….fingers crossed my blog is sticky enough for people to come back.
    thanks
    jess

  24. Useful ideas!

    Having your blog proactively answer the ‘what’s in it for me to participate’ etc. is another great way to increase your readership as well.

    Data points, Barbara

  25. Adam Diver says:

    Your 28 sticky techniques are quite helpful. My retention rate needs improving especially when I get the social traffic. I am adding the related post widget which I find sucks me in on other sites because I come for one piece of info and end up spending hours on the blog. Once someone has read enough of your content (and liked it) I think you have obtained a loyal reader. Well thats the plan anyway

  26. Olivia Bell says:

    Excellent again – I’ve actually bookmarked 21 tips as well as this, each of your posts are packed full of things I need to do and would like to, but as I’m sure many can understand you can’t always remember everything and often need to come back, re read parts you want to focus on etc.

    I was meaning to ask though – and I hope you won’t mind me doing so. Your lovely “tab” section “Best of Problogger” on the homepage, is this a plugin or something manually coded?

    Thanks again, Darren.

  27. Kairon says:

    Thanks for the tips, i will try to aply all of them on my blog :)

  28. ITrush says:

    This is cool, trying to implement all these wonderful techniques to give my site some sticky features!

    nhick
    http://www.itrush.com

  29. What a great series of posts. You always do a wonderful job of pushing us, and educating us!

    Sorting through the suggestions that we get every day can be stressful. If we implement a few good ideas every week, our benefits will be huge.

    I also find that people kind of fuzz out when they get too many new ideas at once. Take note of the things that you want to learn, and get closer and closer as you feel more comfortable with the concepts.

    As a coach for people getting into Social Networking and Social Media, blogging is so important for me and for my clients. I appreciate the basic, moderate, and advanced tips that you always provide.

    Sally

    http://www.drsallywitt.com

  30. AMiRU says:

    I love debate, but I don’t know how to start it in my blog..
    Anyone have example regarding an online debate?

  31. Troy says:

    One additional feature, which is used by ProBlogger.com but not on the list, is allowing people to “Add Our Search” to your browser’s built in search feature.

    This provides a “stickyness” to your site in two ways:

    1) Users can search your content directly from their browser. If your site is a good reference source and has a lot of information, (like Problogger.com) it allows your users find content more efficiently.
    2) Your branding is installed into your visitors browser and is there until they explicitly delete it. So, it’s more permanent than an RSS feed.

    Now, this is partially a plug for my service at Addoursearch.com, which provides an easy way to create, display and install this service to their readers. However, I’m very passionate about this feature and believe it’s an untapped resource.

  32. Never would have thought of a “reference” blog. What a fantastic idea!

  33. CambridgeKC says:

    For the ultimate in simple “reference” blog, have a look at http://venezuelafx.blogspot.com/ and see their fascinating world map of where their visitors are coming from at http://www2.clustrmaps.com/counter/maps.php?url=http://venezuelafx.blogspot.com.

    Isn’t it amazing the traffic you can get by saying so little every day – inspired!

    To view other maps, click on Maps link at
    http://www.clustrmaps.com/top-users.html

    I think this is a great way to view traffic.

  34. CambridgeKC says:

    Talking of video, I see that Alexa noticed that a social justice website had its traffic rocket into their top 3 “Movers and Shakers” after winning a particular category on a YouTube competition – see http://awis.blogspot.com/2008/03/power-of-youtube.html

    So if you’ve done a video, why not think about posting it in places beyond your blog to grow your audience – just a thought.

  35. Troy says:

    Reference blogs is an interesting subject. I’ve been asking myself the same question… when does a “blog” not become a blog anymore? Is it the format or is it the content that makes it a blog?

    I’ve been dealing with a similar question myself. We started a running “blog” at Addoursearch.com called “The List”. Essentially, it’s a running list of useful sites you can add and search directly from your browser: http://thelist.addoursearch.com

    So, is this a blog? Is it a directory? Is it an online App?

  36. article says:

    Reference blogs is an interesting subject. I’ve been asking myself the same question

  37. Some great points here, gave me some great new ideas for my blog.
    Thanks Darren,
    JR

  38. charles says:

    HI! Darren.

    I am a fan of your posts and i would like to suggest that after running a debate for a specific period of time. You should give prize to the best debater so that people will try their best in debating and wouldn’t do bad.

    Charles
    http://www.resourcesandmoney.blogspot.com

  39. Jeff Brown says:

    Are you able to take a look at my blog and tell me what I am doing wrong? or is just the industry I am in ?

  40. hey darren

    how about using something like a myspace plugin that will automatically post your wordpress blog to your myspace homepage… http://madblogger.com/2006/11/19/myspace-profile-plugin-for-wordpress/

    there is also a twitterfeed… that posts a link on your twitter account when you update your posts

    http://twitterfeed.com/

  41. Lowline says:

    ^ That’s a pretty good idea about the Myspace plugin. I’ll have to investigate twitterfeed. Some good advice in all of these tips & keeps you thinking.

  42. Chip says:

    I tried all of them, and they all have their share of potential. Right now I’m using other techniques.

  43. CambridgeKC says:

    Chip you are an expert at that blogging tip: “Keep them waiting for more – build expectation – consider writing a series”, so I just have to ask for your second instalment – what other techniques? – please tell.

  44. Tech Blog says:

    Really nice piece of writing, I Blogged them all on my Blog and Tring to implement on my Blog, Lets Hope I can DO this..

  45. Michael says:

    I have some periodic things on my site Like Joke of the Day, Site of the Week, and Dinosaur of the day, a weekend planner that I publish “every” Thursday, as well as a bookshelf of Items to read Unfourtunately I have not been able to track specific KPI against these but I have noticed if I don’t Update my Joke for a few days subscribers have dropped. I do not have really big numbers yet so I need to find innovative way to keep the people who do find me coming back I have started to employ some of the tips listed by Darren and others on the site.