How do you go about improving your web hits? Frustration with low outreach is one of the main reasons people stop blogging – both business blogging and hobby bloggers alike. There is no magic rule to high visibility, good hits or sustained viewers despite what some websites might promise you for £30 per month. You can’t predict what posts might go viral, but there are some things you can do to improve your visibility.
I’m currently averaging around 2,500 hits per month. That might be low to some of you. To others, it might be an astoundingly high interaction you can’t manage in a year let alone in a month. Also, in the ever-changing search engine algorithms, what might work today might not necessarily work tomorrow. I could tell you all about keywords and their placement but I suspect in 5-10 years time they will be less important than other things. Besides, you want to write because you enjoy writing and don’t want to think so much about the science of it.
Here, then, I present several ways you can improve your blog’s visibility without resorting to anything too technical.
Trim the Fat
It may sound quite reasonable to assume that your visibility increases with more posts, but it’s not necessarily the case. Do you really need to keep posts with such titles as “Who Will Succeed David Tennant as The Doctor?” and “Merry Christmas 2013!”? No, you don’t. This is dead weight and could (according to some) drag down your popularity. Google especially like sites that are well-maintained with broad appeal. Getting rid of posts that nobody reads is one good tactic.
Better Internal Linking
If you write on a common theme, you can keep your visitor on your site (and improve your blog hits) by linking to similar blog posts. Most people go about this the wrong way (I haven’t put actual links in, but imagine the bold bits below are links):
Although my blog is not about climbing, I’m a keen climber. I talk about this issue a lot. Here, here and here are some recent posts.
What you should do instead is put the links in the text organically:
Although my blog is not about climbing, I do discuss it on this blog regularly. The first time I went bouldering was pretty embarrassing. But I eventually met some great new climbing friends. We recently started a local climbing team so we could compete!
Side note: Internal linking is great, but it creates one massive headache – dead links when you delete out of date posts. Blog posts that link to posts that are no longer there are essentially punished by search engines. Also, it doesn’t look good for your blog when a reader wants to see another blog post and get that dreaded 404 page instead.
Use the Flesch Readability Test
This is far less of an algorithm based tactic as it is about common sense. What is the Flesch Readability Test? Simply, it analyses how easy to read a piece of text is. The basic principles of the Flesch Readability Test are:
- Short and punchy sentences (no more than 20 words)
- Use easy to understand words – leave out slang or local idioms. Remember that what makes sense where you live may not make sense elsewhere, especially so for whom your native language is a second or third language to somebody else. They say the UK and the USA are two countries divided by a common language and it’s true
- Don’t use complex, difficult or obscure words when a simple one will do unless the content warrants it
Think About Blog Structure
Think back to the early days of the internet – long, dense reams of text with few (if any) images. Bandwidth was precious; therefore, posting videos and images was counterproductive to a lot of websites. That is not the case these days. Images and videos break up the text. Did you know that the optimum length of a piece of text is 300 words? That doesn’t mean your post should be 300 words, it means that each section (general text between images, videos and headers) should be no longer than 300 words.
One common mistake most people make is to post short blog posts regularly. They think that having a lot of content is a surefire way of getting the blog noticed. But in the world of infinite blog posts where everybody has something to say, it is not quantity that gets you noticed – it’s the quality. Content is king, as they say. There has been strong suspicion for some time that long-form blog posts fare better than short-form because they provide more value. Contrary to the belief that today’s “yoof” has no attention span, long-form posts on subjects perform consistently better than short-form. When I look through my own high-ranking posts, I find the best performing are those over 1200 words. I don’t blog with posts of that length very often, perhaps once or twice per month. I much more commonly post (as I do with my clients) in the 450-600 range.