Anyone who blogs has read the zillions of posts chock-full of advice about how to increase readership on your blog. I’ve read them, too, and have concluded that most of them are full of, well, merde. Pure shizzle.
Here is some of the worst blogging advice, ever. In my opinion. You let me know what you think.
Write interesting content
I see this exhortation all the time and there’s never any detail about what it means. All by itself, it is the most ridiculous advice I’ve heard. Interesting is in the eye of the beholder. I may think one of my posts is the best thing since sliced bread; you may be totally uninterested in it. When someone advises bloggers to write interesting content and offers no further advice, well, they’re just filling space on the screen. In fact, I know a blogger who writes some of the dullest posts I’ve ever read and her traffic is double mine. Trust me, they’re dull.
Better advice is to know your blog’s audience and write content that either helps them, makes them think or that they’d enjoy.
Avoid high bounce rates by writing long copy
All I can say to this is “No.” Bounce rates mean the length of time between clicking on your link and leaving your website. The thought is that the longer the copy, the longer a reader sticks on your site. Have you ever seen super-long copy composed of meaningless, extraneous words on the screen, repetitive and full of unnecessary verbiage? When I see posts that go and on I simply bounce. Just saying. Buh-bye.
If a post merits length, by all means, write long. But don’t write superfluous copy just to keep people on your site. Because they’ll bounce like I do.
And speaking of avoiding bounce rates, there is a comment program that tells commenters that their comment is “too short” and that they haven’t “spent sufficient time on the blog.” I follow one blogger that uses this, and I love her, really love her, but I find it just plain wrong to force someone to stay on your site or post a longer comment. I found myself leaving her screen to go do other things and then hitting post a few minutes later. So, is that really a true calculation of how long I was on her site? It isn’t. I was reading something else. Maybe that’s ok with her because it ups her numbers, but it’s not ok with me. It’s a pain in the rear. Now, I read but rarely comment at all because I don’t feel like being admonished by a comment program.
Reply to every comment
Well, I have to admit, the objective–a dialogue–is good. But it is impractical: a blogger who gets a lot of comments can spend all day thinking of good replies and posting them. Also, the truth that most of the time, I don’t want to get a reply when I post a comment to another blog because it fills my inbox with mail that tells me they said “Thanks so much for your comment.” I pretty much delete those unread. I rarely return to see if anyone has responded to my comment.
The only time that’s different is if a discussion is forming. That does happen on my blog and other blogs, and I do like to participate in them by replying. But let me go on record as saying that unless there’s a discussion fomenting, no need to thank me for my comment. I’m good.
Participate in link drop groups to get more readers
This has its pros and cons. If it’s an affinity link drop group, such as midlife women, you really can get more regular readers from dropping your link for them to comment on. I’ve found numerous blogs that I subscribe to or follow through these affinity groups. But a sheer link drop group without a commonality other than blogging is another thing. Are you really getting more readers? Or are people just dropping a comment so you’ll drop one on theirs?
A good percentage of the time, link drop readers don’t even read the post. I can always tell because their comments have nothing to do with what I wrote but what they assume from the headline. And then there are the spam-like comments from link droppers that say nothing, like “Awesome post! Thanks for this!”
Link drops bring up ethical questions when it’s a sponsored post on which the blogger wants to show the sponsor traffic and comments. It’s the rare sponsored link that shows me something I need or want. It’s happened, but not very often. I may click and comment, but I forget about it right away. For example, I really don’t care that one of the 15 ways you can use a Huggie is as yarmulke and I can figure out for myself that one can help clean up a spill. Are sponsors really getting valuable impressions from someone like me, who will never, ever buy a Huggie? Who click and run?
You may be wondering why this is on my mind and it’s because I’ve been looking at all this advice as I’ve thought long and hard about what I want to do with this blog. I get that my blog isn’t for everyone and I’m good with that. It’s a blog for people with life experience under their belt or that want to benefit from the experience of their elders (hehehe). I’m never going to have mass appeal. Smart, thoughtful people read it, and I like that fact. But to enjoy most of these posts, you really do have to have time to think and not everyone has that time. And while I’ve toyed with sponsored posts over the year, I’m doing fewer and fewer because I realize that they don’t fit my mission.
Most bloggers would like to expand their readership and I’m among them. But I’m not so sure I’ve seen much good advice out there, advice that really does build the kind of thoughtful readers I’m seeking.
And as usual, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Thank you.