Remember how hard you work to avoid wasting time on the Internet? When you organize your blog, you’re trying to do the opposite. Instead of trying to avoid wasting time, you’re trying to entice readers to get drawn in and WANT to waste time at your site. It’s like you’re the procrastination devil. “Just a few more minutes,” your site whispers. “There’s another really interesting post that you haven’t read! You might never find it again.”
What tools can you use to tempt readers into lingering at your site? Read on, tempters and temptresses…here are five for starters:
- Highlight popular posts by including them in a box or sidebar next to the most recent content on your home page. If other readers have particularly appreciated certain posts more than others, those are the posts that are most likely to tempt future readers as well. Keep a regular list of the top five or ten most-viewed posts at hand. Don’t worry, you won’t have to write the code for this yourself or even hire someone to do it – you can use a WordPress plug-in to do all the heavy lifting for you.
- Provide links to related posts. While you are exploring plug-in possibilities for your blog, make sure to add one that will send readers to content that is related to the post they are currently reading. If your blog has enough past entries, all on topics that are somewhat related to each other, a reader could waste hours going in an endless loop from one related post to another. A glorious time waster!
- Don’t be afraid to add links to off-site locations. Yes, off-site links lead off-site, and you may be wondering…will my readers ever make it back? If the link you provided leads to content that your readers find helpful, yes, there is a good chance that they will remember that your site led them there. Don’t feel that your site needs to be a dead end with no links leading out. It may seem counter-intuitive, but including many helpful links in your blog posts will improve traffic to your site, not reduce it. While you are at it, weave in some internal links to related posts, but only if they come up naturally – don’t try to force an internal link in content that doesn’t really fit it. While you are at it, make sure your links look like links – use color and underline them so people notice that yes, there is hypertext over there and yes, they can click on it.
- Include multimedia content – but don’t force it on readers. Everyone has experienced the irritation of arriving at a website only to have it begin playing music or showing a video that you aren’t sure you want to see. On the other hand, as educators know, some people are visual learners, while others are auditory or kin-esthetic learners. You can optimize your blog the same way publishers optimize textbooks for different learning styles – by repeating the same content in several different formats. If you have audio or video related to your post, or if you can embed a YouTube video related to your content, take the time to do it – it will add staying power for those readers who are easily tempted by anything involving moving pictures.
- Optimize your keywords. I’m not a huge fan of keywords and meta-tags, I personally think you should concentrate on content. Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door, as they say. However, keywords are a tool that you may as well use. If you don’t like to take time to generate keywords, you can find plug-ins to do it for you. There are several WordPress keyword- and meta-tag-generating plug-ins out there, though you may have to experiment to find the one you like the best. If you have keywords in mind before you write, take the time to weave them into your first paragraph and, if possible, your post’s title, so that Google and other search engines can find them and direct potential readers to your site.