November 18, 2010

9 Quick Steps To A Better Blog Experience

If you’ve ever wondered how to increase traffic, gain followers, and keep readers on your blog, here are nine easy steps you can take right now to make your blog a better experience for your readers.

1. Turn off “Word Verification” for comments

Word verification discourages comments. If you want comments and engaged readers, make it easy for them to communicate and share their thoughts with you – you’ll be surprised what you learn! :) If you’re worried about trolls or spam, just turn on comment moderation. No comment will be posted without your approval.

From your Blogger Dashboard, go to Settings > Comments. Scroll down and find Show word verification for comments? Check No, then click Save Settings.

2. Use Linkwithin

This gets me every time! You’ve probably seen it before, but the LinkWithin widget shows similar posts from your blog underneath each post, with a thumbnail image. It gets me every time. I keep seeing interesting titles with enticing thumbnail images. And I click. And click. And keep clicking.

LinkWithin Widget.

3. Optimize your RSS feed.

If I had to guess, I would say that 99% of the blog reading I do is from Google Reader. But Google Reader doesn’t give me the option to leave a comment down at the bottom of the post, when I’m done reading, and would naturally want to comment on the post. In order to leave a comment, I have to scroll at the way back up to the top of the post to click on the blog so I can leave a comment.

But you can make it super easy for your readers to comment by adding a link down at the bottom of your RSS feed that will encourage them to leave a comment or even share on Facebook or Twitter. I love this. I’m definitely more likely to comment if a blogger makes it easy for me! :)

Create a Feedburner account. Click on your feed, and go to Optimize > FeedFlare. Check Email This, Comments Count, Share on Facebook, and Stumble It! and Activate the service. You want at least those four, but not so many that your readers are overwhelmed and don’t know what to click.

Next you’ll need to redirect your Blogger feed to your new Feedburner feed. From your Blogger Dashboard, go to Settings > Site Feed. Look for the Post Feed Redirect URL box and type in your complete FeedBurner feed address. To find your feed address, go to your Feedburner account, and click on the little gray RSS button RSS button to the left of your blog’s name. The address that appears in the address bar at the top of the screen is your feed address. Save your new Blogger settings and you’re good to go!

WordPress users, check out the Ozh’ Better Feed plugin.

4. Allow Full Blog Feed

This is a highly debated topic. Should you allow readers to read your blog in an RSS reader? It might discourage them from coming to your site, right? But not allowing them to read your feed through their preferred method (an RSS reader) might discourage them from reading it altogether. For example, I prefer to do all my blog reading and browsing from one convenient location, Google Reader. All my favorite sites are bookmarked in one place, and I can easily see the newest posts as soon as they are posted. I check it several times a day, just like email. But if a blog doesn’t let me subscribe to its full feed, I don’t subscribe at all. And I hardly ever check it. The other blogs, I check several times a day. I’m definitely more likely to visit, engage, and comment on the blogs I check several times a day! :)

From your Blogger Dashboard, go to Settings > Site Feed. Confirm that Allow Blog Feeds is set to Full and save.

5. Music

If the previous topic was highly debated, this one is just downright controversial! Keep in mind that taste in music is extremely personal and subjective, and think twice about having music playing in the background of your blog. At least think twice about having the music automatically start as soon as the page is opened. Some readers may already be listening to music in the background, and your site will be competing with whatever they’re listening to. It may deter some readers.

Alternatively, consider blogging a list of your favorite songs – songs that are inspiring you right then. Energetic songs for exercise. Upbeat songs for roadtrips. I would LOVE to read a post like that! :)

6. Take Advantage of your Sidebar

Your sidebar space is prime real estate. Use it to draw readers in and keep them engaged. Add links with photos to your favorite & most interesting posts to keep readers clicking. Our Best Bites is a really good example of this. They change the links seasonally and every time I visit there’s something new from their archives that I haven’t seen yet and want to click. I get drawn in every time!

7. Make Searching Easy

Help your readers find what they’re looking for, quickly and easily. They may remember a specific post of yours, but didn’t bookmark it. When they come back to your site, make it easy for them to find it. The best way to do this with a Blogger blog is to keep the navbar up at the top – don’t remove it! Your readers have no other way to search your blog without it. If you’re worried that it clashes with the design of your blog, you can change the color for a more professional look.

From your Blogger Dashboard, go to Design. Under Add and Arrange Page Elements, find the light blue navbar and click Edit to choose a new color.

8. Use Labels

Another way to keep readers clicking is to use Labels (aka tags and categories for WordPress users). If you write about a specific subject frequently, label it with a descriptive word or short phrase. Then if your readers want to see more posts on that topic, all they have to do is click the label at the bottom of the post, and all the posts you’ve written on that topic will come up. For example, a few of my labels are Scarves, My Favorite Things, and Kayaking.

9. Use Descriptive Hyperlinks

There are two ways to include links in your posts.

1. Click here for the Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcakes recipe.

2. Here is the Brownie Batter Chocolate Fudge Cupcakes recipe.

The benefits of the latter are twofold.

1. It stands out more. It’s easier to see. The eye is drawn to it. You know you’ll be taken to a post about Brownie Batter Chocolate Fudge Cupcakes.

2. Search Engine Optimization. If you link to another site and use a descriptive  hyperlink, they will love you forever. The next time someone searches for something similar to the descriptive link you used, the more likely the page you linked to will be at the top of the search results. Love it!

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So these are a few quick steps you can take right now to keep your readers happy, engaged, and clicking. I love to see these implemented on blogs I visit! What do you love to see on a blog? What makes you close the screen? Share you tips in the comments, and we can all improve. :)



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151 Comments





104
Amy at TheSceneFromMe November 20, 2010 at 3:05 pm

Thank you so much for all these great tips. I am currently on Wordpress, but I am trying to switch over to Blogger to make it more user friendly for myself. Anyone have any suggestions on this, I’d greatly appreciate it!

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105
Uhlee November 21, 2010 at 2:27 am

You made this so simple and helpful, thank you! :)

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106
Ellen November 21, 2010 at 6:49 am

Great tips! I would add to this comments about making certain that your blog is easy for everyone to read……..by not using backgrounds and font colors which are so uncomfortable that I don’t keep reading,, i.e. bright yellow on black. And about that music? I REALLY dislike having to listen music I don’t care for.

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107
Amy November 21, 2010 at 10:53 am

I Cannot tell you how helpful all this was. I came looking to place a cute font on my blog, Well I did not find it, but I certainly found lots of other helpful things. Very clearly detailed. Thank you!

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108
Crystal November 21, 2010 at 2:32 pm

Thanks for the tips! I just applied some to my blog and grabbed your button to share :)

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109
Kerry November 21, 2010 at 7:41 pm

The directions were very clear and easy to follow, even after 2 glasses of wine. Thanks!

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110
Debbie Howard November 21, 2010 at 9:57 pm

Great tips. I hate music on blogs too. Keep my computer on mute but sure wish I could use my own player and listen to what I like but gave it up to keep from having something else breaking in. I would also add that I wish more people would give the option of an email feed. I prefer to get it in email that way when I don’t have time to get to it right away it is easier for me to find it. Please it is just one more click on feedburner to add the email option.
Debbie

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111
Jamie (Mama.Mommy.Mom) November 21, 2010 at 10:32 pm

So true about the background music! I will not follow a blog that has music playing. It may sound silly, but it drive me nuts and I just can’t enjoy a blog that always has music going.

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112
Nechama @ Cantstopbaking November 22, 2010 at 8:55 am

Very useful tips- thanks so much!

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113
mary November 22, 2010 at 6:21 pm

Thank you for these. You will be in MY sidebar for sure. So very helpful!

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114
mary November 22, 2010 at 6:21 pm

Thank you for these. You will be in MY sidebar for sure. So very helpful!

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115
Cassandra November 22, 2010 at 11:10 pm

These are some awesome tips! I made some changes to my blog and I’m so glad I did! I probably would have never thought of the things you mentioned. Soo helpful!

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116
Lynda November 23, 2010 at 8:30 pm

Thank you so much! Loved how to optimize your feed – I just changed mine. I hate to sound like such a dummy, but can you give instructions on how to provide links with photos on my blog. I love, love, love your blog and really appreciate your help!

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117
angela November 23, 2010 at 9:55 pm

WOW! Thanks for these I just learned so much and just made my blog so much better!!!!!

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118
Ashley November 24, 2010 at 2:49 pm

One of the best helpful tutorials I’ve seen. Thank you SO much for posting this!!! I’m learning a lot as I’m a new blogger to this world :)

- Ashley
Ashley Creations :)

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119
Amy @DYKTMP? November 26, 2010 at 2:45 pm

Thanks! Always looking for new ways to improve. Now go be a follower so I feel like I did a good job! hehe

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120
the wanna be country girl November 27, 2010 at 6:58 pm

Thank you so much for the tips! I added linkwithin right away, and I’ve seen folks using it and staying longer on my blog. I love reading you blog and seeing your photos. Thanks again for taking the time to guide newer blogers.
Take care,
the wanna be country girl – Caroline

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121
Lee Anne November 27, 2010 at 9:36 pm

Amanda you seriously rock! LOVE when you post things like this. Always so easy to follow, thanks so much! I did most of the steps on my blog and was so excited I even wrote a post and linked to ya. :)

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122
Yvonne November 29, 2010 at 12:44 am

I DID IT!! LOL these were all GREAT ideas to improve my blogger, Thank you for sharing!! (=
hope you get a chance to see all the new changes made

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123
Jenn (GreenDoorGirl) November 29, 2010 at 12:56 am

Thank you for the awesome tips, I am now following your blog AND using several of your tips!

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124
marla {family fresh cooking} November 29, 2010 at 7:23 am

Amanda, this is great advice. How do I add the Twitter Flare to self hosted wordpress? Also do you check “feed & site” on each flare? I am now debating whether or not I want to put my whole feed in the reader. Sounds like it might be a good idea?? xo

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125
Sylvia November 30, 2010 at 5:53 pm

Thank you so much for all these wonderful tips!!!

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126
Canay November 30, 2010 at 6:16 pm

Amanda, these are great tips. I haven’t posted on my blog since August. I need all the help I canget!!

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127
Gretchen December 3, 2010 at 7:14 am

I learn so much about blogging from YOUR blogs. Thank you for taking the time to share such valuable tips. It’s especially helpful to know about the LinkWithin widget. It will definitely help to keep the readers hanging around longer.

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128
giozi December 7, 2010 at 10:16 am

Thanks Amanda for this tips. :)

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129
Christa @Stories of a House January 4, 2011 at 6:57 am

I love your blog! You both are so smart. I did everything to add the comments footer to google reader, but it won’t show up. Only email this and share on facebook shows up. Do you have any idea why comments won’t show up?

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130
Beck January 10, 2011 at 4:07 am

These are great! Thank you for your advice.

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131
Emily Connor January 10, 2011 at 7:22 pm

Thank you so much!! I’m always looking for ways to improve my blog! Any ideas on how to really get your blog name out there? Thanks in advance!!

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132
Annalise January 21, 2011 at 9:32 am

Hi Amanda! I am wondering if you know how to make RSS feeds look like the original post on a blog. Whenever I make a new post for my blog it looks fine on the site, but then I get the RSS feed and the pictures aren’t centered anymore, text is where it shouldn’t be, etc. It is really fustrating, especially if most people only read the feeds. The post can be hard to follow :( Any ideas?

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133
Catherine January 28, 2011 at 9:23 pm

fantastic tips! thank you so much!!! i had success with them all. the only issue was with feedburner… the one thing i was reeeeaaalllly wanting to use was adding the ability to comment from reader and wouldn’t ya know? that was the one of the four options selected that did NOT show up! i just had to laugh… thanks Amanda!!!

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134
Allison June 8, 2011 at 3:21 pm

Great tips! Just wanted say, I love the “comments” design on your blog! How did you do it?!!

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135
Jesse June 27, 2011 at 5:56 pm

Thank you for all of the wonderful tips! I applied a few of your tips to the blog… and now it feels all jazzed up and ready to go!

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136
Malou September 16, 2011 at 8:31 am

Wow I just read through this and followed your easy-to-read steps and I’m already noticing a difference. I especially liked your tip on enabling comments and optimizing RSS feed. There’s so much to be learnt about blogging properly!
Thank you!
I love your blog, will be following it from now on :) xx

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137
Shawna November 3, 2011 at 11:08 am

As a newbie blogger I am completely overwhelmed, so thank you, thank you, thank you for your simple, but effective tips. I have implemented most of them already!

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138
Chelsea November 22, 2011 at 11:47 pm

I just found your blog today, and I’m so excited for the information about LinkWithin. I’ve been wanting to do that for months and hadn’t been able to figure out how! Thanks so much! I also tried to turn off the word verification for my comments because my hubby always complains that his comments don’t go through. With the new blogger dashboard, I couldn’t find the spot to turn off word verification, but since LinkWithin sent me through the old format, I was able to find it. Thanks again!

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139
ChiWei November 29, 2011 at 3:03 pm

Here I am, clicking and clicking away, getting drawn in by all the enticing thumbnails, just as you said! Thanks for the tips – done and done and done, on my own little startup blog. I’m a new follower!

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140
Julie January 2, 2012 at 5:29 pm

Wonderful! Thank you so much for the step-by-step guide to implementing these things. I’m so HAPPY! It makes my blog look so much better!!!

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141
sarah February 2, 2012 at 11:33 am

Hi, I just found your blog today and I love it! I’ve done #3 and added the comments count, facebook, email, and stumble it but on my feed it’s only showing the last three and not the comments section. when you check those four things, do you check both the “site” and “feed” sections? I’ve done just the “feed” section and then both section but the comments are still not showing up either way. Thanks for your help!

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142
Susan February 3, 2012 at 11:33 pm

Kevin and Amanda,

I happened upon your blog and all the various things you offer, got excited about the fonts but then found your tuts on blogs too. I took the top 9 tips and did them all. I can’t tell you how much that has helped me. Ive spent most of the day trying to learn how to blog and optimize more and this little list was a God send! You explain things to the point and make it easy to follow. Now I am onto the recipes as an empty nester I have forgotten how to cook (never thought that would happen lol) so I am learning new things all over again its fun! I’ve enjoyed my time here and following the other links you have in your site.

Blessings and hugs to you ~ Barefootsoul

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143
Ashley Urke | Domestic Fashionista February 15, 2012 at 6:55 pm

descriptive hyperlink…so helpful! I wouldn’t have thought! thank you!

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144
Jacy March 9, 2012 at 6:30 pm

So helpful!! Thanks so much!!

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145
Inspire Me Heather March 14, 2012 at 6:53 am

Thanks, this is still great advice. I have this linked to my blogging post as well today, it’s all good!

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146
Sarah Baynes Sarna March 14, 2012 at 11:26 am

Thank you for these great tips!

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147
Lesley August 11, 2012 at 8:06 pm

Thank you SOOOOOOOOOOOO much!!!!! i’ve been dying to know how people to do “you might also like these posts” thing! So happy to finally have this option, too!

Lesley
byporchlight.blogspot.com

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148
Susan Stephen October 10, 2012 at 11:36 am

Thank you for the information. I will be setting up a blog for our company soon. Right now I am researching and this article was very helpful.

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149
Nicole Bieri January 29, 2013 at 11:03 am

I really appreciate your advice as I just started blogging. Thanks!

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150
Kendra May 9, 2013 at 11:30 am

I LOVE these tips! I am new to the blogging world and I just implemented all of these :) Thanks so much!!

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151
lisa June 16, 2013 at 10:15 am

Thank you thank you thank you for this wonderful information! Very easy and helpful. I’d been wondering how to do the links at the bottom of other posts.

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