Add a Technorati Avatar to Promote Your Blog

Reader-Quick-TipsZen Bliss submitted the following reader quick tip (in fact this email from Zen Bliss inspired me to do this ‘reader quick tip series’):

Hi Darren. I read your site regularly – it’s a great resource for tips. Here’s one of my own, along the lines of getting more traffic to your blog.

It’s a very simple tip that will take mere seconds to implement, and can really benefit you in the long run. Ready for it? … upload an avatar to your Technorati profile. Many, many site authors who ping Technorati do not have an avatar. When a Technorati reader is scanning through pages of blog headlines, the avatars are so few and far between that the blog posts that are accompanied by them really jump out at you.

PS from Darren: I think this is a good simple tip that I’ve found to work also. I know when I added an icon to my Technorati account that I noticed a jump in visitors from the site. Nice one Zen Bliss.

reddit buttons

Redditreddit have released reddit buttons for webmasters and bloggers to put on their sites to help spread the word about their posts.

They come in three styles. Give them a go and let us know how you find them. Do you actively promote social bookmarking options to your readers? Do you find they work or are readers becoming blind to them?

Grow Your Blog’s Readership By Targeting Readers

Who is your Primary Blog’s Target reader?

I was speaking with a blogger a couple of weeks ago via IM and he asked me the eternal question that we all seem to ask:

‘How do I find more readers for my blog?’

It’s a question I get asked a fair bit and one that I can easily reel off 10 to 20 strategies for. However on this occasion I decided to answer the question with another question and fired this one back to the blogger:

‘What type of readers do you want?’

The reason I asked the question is that after three and a half years of blogging I’m starting to realize that the eternal quest for ‘readers’ is not all it’s cracked up to be.

Don’t get me wrong – I love finding readers for my blogs, it’s fun to check the stats and see a blog has a growing readership – however if you’re blogging for money or blogging on a business blog of some kind, it is a much more fruitful exercise if you think about the type of readers you’re after and then work at going after them – rather than just going after ‘just any reader’.

Here’s a process that’s been forming in my mind on this topic that might be useful for bloggers looking to build a more targeted readership:

1. Define Your Target Reader

What type of reader do you want? You might want to answer this question in great detail by defining them in terms of age, gender, location etc – or you might be a little more general than that and target different interests or life situations of readers. For example on my Digital Photography School Blog I’ve defined my target reader as ‘digital camera owners who don’t go out of Auto Mode on their cameras’. I am targeting beginner to intermediate digicam users. This is a fairly wide target but is more narrow than some other digital photography sites who seem to be going after beginners through to Pros all on the one site.

2. Identify Where and How they Gather

In this stage you’re beginning to do some research on the type of reader that you’re after. There’s no easy way to do this except to surf the web (and sometime look offline) for the type of reader that you’re after. It makes sense really – if you want to meet someone you need to find out where they hang out. So once again – on my digital photography School Blog I’ve spent the last few months surfing through a wide variety of websites, forums and blogs looking for gathering points for my type of reader. I’ve found a few sites that I’d not seen before and have basically been lurking there – observing what they do. When you’re in this phase try to identify not only the places that your potential reader gathers but also do some analysis of:

  • What language they speak (is it technical or informal, is there jargon or lingo used)?
  • What they respond well and badly to (ie what types of content seems to whip them into a frenzy and what do they react against)?
  • What is cool to these people (are they impressed by great design or are they more interested in the latest gossip or people who write with real expertise)?
  • How do they interact (do they like leaving comments and discussion the topic or are they less interactive)?
  • What is missing (in the established gathering points for your potential readers – is there anything that is not being covered, is there something they are asking for that they are not getting)?

3. Join their Established Gathering Points

Perhaps one of the most effective ways of learning about your potential readers is to join in in their established gathering points. Don’t just set up a blog and hope that they’ll come visit it – but genuinely become a part of the communities that already exist online for your topic. There are a number of reasons for this:

  • For starters – it’s great research – You’ll not truly understand a niche until you’re participating in it. Doing so on the sites that already have the type of readers you want will give you real insight into what they respond to.
  • Secondly you’ll find potential partners – Interact in a niche long enough and you’ll begin to identify others who have similar interests to you, that think like you think and who might be worth being in relationship with as you build your own blog up. They might not join you formally as a partner but they’ll be a good sounding board and will help spread the word for you.
  • Thirdly you’ll get to know other site owners – Some people take a much more competitive approach than I do in starting up blogs on topics where others already are established. They tend to take a a search and destroy approach and to steal readers from other sites – building their own blog by seeing the demise in another. My own approach is different. In most niches there is more than enough room for a number of quality sites or blogs. Instead of tearing down your competitors – get to know them, help them make their sites better and find ways to work with them. Out of this you’ll find there are flow on effects that will improve your own ventures. Rather than having to steal readers or find ways to convince them to swap to your blog – the owners of your ‘competitors’ will often send them to you.

Please Note – I’m not talking about joining in others communities to steal their readers. That’s not really my style and I think there are some good reasons for not doing this.

4. Identify Peripheral Gathering Points

Another way to wider your readership with targeted readers is to find other sites that are not directly related to your topic that will have this type of person. For example some of the largest influxes of quality traffic that I’ve had recently to my Digital Photography School have not been from other digital photography sites but blogs that have related topics (for example technical blogs, gadget blogs, social bookmarking sites, news papers etc).

The readers that they’ve sent were perhaps not quite as targeted as those that another digital photography site might send – but in some ways they were better as they were less likely to be proficient digital camera users (remember I’m going for the beginner market). The other cool thing about these sites is that they will probably be more open to promoting your blog because it’s not a direct threat to them.

When finding these secondary sites it’s worth noting what type of things they link to. For example I recently wrote a post on how to use camera phones on my digital photography blog. While it wasn’t strictly on my topic (digital cameras) it was an effective piece as it was linked to widely from within the cellphone blogosphere (a related niche) as well as more general technology sites and it drew in many new inbound links and readers (the type of readers who are also likely to have a digital camera).

5. Provide Useful Content and Deliver it in Appropriate ways

Out of answering the above questions and research you’ll be in a much better space to launch your own blog.

  • You’ll know the type of reader you’re after
  • You’ll be writing posts that they’ll be likely to respond to
  • You’ll have relationships with some potential readers who you can do some testing with and who might help spread the word for you
  • You’ll know some other related sites – how they operate, where they’re falling short of reader expectations and who their owners are
  • You’ll have relationships with other site owners (both those who are directly on your topic and others on the edges of it) who will hopefully promote your blog.

None of this guarantees you traffic – but it puts you in a much better position than being a blogger that is aimlessly building a blog and hoping for any type of traffic you can get.

update: Just after publishing this I spotted a good post over at Rachel’s blog on a related topic – Small is Ok.

Dave Sifry on Making Your Blog Popular

David Sifry BigDave Sifry gives a few basic tips in next month’s Wired on how to get more traffic to your blog.

It’s pretty basic stuff but has a few good points (his headings are in bold – my thoughts after each with links to where you can read more on each):

  1. React quickly – IF your blog is news related or talking about current events or any other time specific topic this is key. I operate in a few product related niches and know if I can have a post out within hours of a product announcement that I stand a good chance of being linked to by other sites and being first to be indexed by Search Engines and other indexing sites. It also helps you get credibility and loyal readers who want to know the latest news and get Scoops.
  2. Make your posts easy to read – I had dinner with a reader last night and one of the things he told me that he likes about my blogging is that he finds it accessible. He said it was like sitting in a cafe with a coffee and chatting with me. I’m not saying that my style of writing is how everyone should write – but it’s always been my goal to write in an accessible style and I think it’s paid off. So write in a style that’s easy to read but also a form that is digestible (which includes thinking about things like scannable content, using lists etc)
  3. Link, link, link! – Dave’s right in what he says about this being somewhat counter intuitive. Many bloggers guard their outbound links and only do it when they have to in the hope that it’ll keep people on their blogs. While there are some circumstances where outbound links will be less appropriate than others – in general I think linking to others is a worthwhile way of participating in the wider conversation – which has the flow on benefit of traffic. Read more on the times when outbound links are and are not appropriate.
  4. Optimize for search engines – While you never want to lose site of the fact that you’re writing for humans, it’s also worth noting that most people find content online at one time or another via search engines. As a result to ignore basic SEO principles you’re limiting the potential to be found by those actively searching for it.
  5. Post, post, post! – There’s no need to go overboard and post just for the sake of it – but keep your posting level up to the highest rate that you can sustain without sacrificing on quality. The key is establishing regular frequency and keeping momentum going on your blog. Read more on whether Posting Frequency Matters.

Dave’s pointers are fairly entry level and are tips that most bloggers have heard before – but the reality is that it’s often the basics things that work best.

Also check out my post with 19 strategies for finding readers for your blog.

Effective Strategies for Driving Traffic to Your Website

SEOmoz Blog has a worthwhile read titled 10 Remarkably Effective Strategies for Driving Traffic which explores the following methods of traffic generation:

#10 – Targeting Unmonetized Searches
#9 – Creating Controversy
#8 – Maps & Mashups
#7 – Event Coverage
#6 – Top Ten Lists
#5 – Online Tools
#4- Graphic & Web Design
#3 – Leveraging Social Networks
#2 – Blogging & Blog Comments
#1 – Reporting Remarkable News
#0 – Offering Something Incredible

All good common sense tips. randfish gives the ingredients, process, results and examples of each in his article.

Effective Blog Architecture

Perhaps one of the most frustrating things for me as a professional blogger with decent depth in my archives – some really good content and some (perhaps more) not so great content – is figuring out the best way to present it. Blog architecture is a challenging topic since most blogs are structured pretty much identically.

Sometimes concepts are presented that just smack of “obvious”. Chris Pearson presented one such concept today. In his view, most of his readers (and I would venture most of my readers and most of Darren’s readers) consume blogs via RSS and RSS is reverse chronological by its nature. By default, most blogs are also ordered reverse chronologically.

Chris instead challenges his readers to think outside the box and avoid being redundant. If RSS is already reverse-chronological, why do the same thing on the web? Why not take a more nebulous approach to blog presentations – perhaps placing the “best of” on the home page or taking a Digg approach and letting entries with more comments migrate up to the front page.

The second approach is an idea that I had but would likely work best on a niche blog as opposed to personal blogs. The idea that mostly niche readers will read niche blogs suggests that a blogger would not get unrelated “junk entries” that garner a lot of comments on the front page.

I’m interested in hearing different ideas on presenting blog data in an alternate way. What are your thoughts?

The Ethics of Profile Peddling

Profile Peddling. I don’t know that it’s really a word but I don’t really honestly know what else to call it. It is the practice of opening up accounts at supporting services such as Flickr or MySpace in order to funnel traffic to a blog or website. It’s been a common practice of search engine optimizing firms for a long time.

SEOMoz writes on this topic today and raises an interesting ethical question: Is it unethical to use this kind of “profile peddling” to enhance a bloggers own profile? The question is further complicated when you think that an unhappy competitor could completely infiltrate your web presence with negative publicity by using profile peddling to funnel negative publicity your way.

What do you think?

Do you Advertise Your Blog

Do you advertise your blog?

I’ve noticed quite a few bloggers experimenting with advertising on AdWords, Adbrite (aff), BlogAds and Text Link Ads (aff) over the last few months.

Perhaps it’s a symptom of the massive increases in numbers of blogs out there competing for readers – or perhaps it’s a symptom of the increased focus on blogging with a commercial edge – or perhaps it’s a result of something else.

Whatever it is, it’s happens more and more and I’m interested to hear the experiences of those who are running ads in the hope of bring in traffic.

Here’s a few questions for you to answer (feel free to answer anonymously if you wish and to tackle one or all of them):

  • Why do you advertise your blog?
  • What ad programs do you use?
  • What impact has it had?
  • What tips would you give others wanting to do the same?

My own experience with advertising my blogs is reasonably limited.

I have experimented with using both AdWords and BlogAds – especially in the launch phase of new blogs – but have not had massive success with it to this point.

I’ll write a post in the coming days with a few tips that I’d advise bloggers wanting to advertise their blogs but would be interested to hear the experiences of those who’ve been doing it a little more seriously than I am.

How to Increase a Blog’s Page Views

There is often a lot of talk in ‘how to blog’ type articles on increasing visitors numbers to a blog there is another statistic that is important to some bloggers also – page views.

Most statistics packages measure both for you – ‘visitors’ (or unique visitors) measures the number of people, but ‘page views’ measures the number of pages on your blog that those visitors look at.

The number of page views per visitor varies quite significantly from blog to blog (based on many factors) but there are a number of reasons why bloggers might wish to increase this statistic including:

  • Stickiness – the more pages a reader views the increased chance of them coming back are.
  • Revenue – more and more of the ads that we are running on your blogs are impression based ads (ie the more times the ads are seen the more that is earned).

Whether you want to increase page views or not is something that different bloggers will place as a different priority, depending upon the goals of their blog, but if it is something you’d like to work on here are 14 tips on how to increase page views:

[Read more…]