The Top 10 Things Your Blog Visitors Wish You Knew

It’s a real pleasure to welcome Judy Dunn as my guest with an article which looks at the things you need to know to keep your blog visitors coming back for more.

Judy is a writer and copywriter who blogs at the excellent (and award winning) Cats Eye Writer where you can find an abundance of advice to help you to enjoy and make a success of your blogging experience. Judy is also a member of the team at For Bloggers, By Bloggers.

If you would like to find out more about Judy you can connect on Twitter @CatsEyeWriter, and on Facebook .

The Top 10 Things Your Blog Visitors Wish You Knew

People often ask me, “How can I get my blog visitors to stick around and participate in the community?”

This question has come from many different people who have blogs on diverse topics: business owners who blog, authors, freelance writers. Even personal bloggers.

Okay, I’m going out on a limb here. But I’ll say this:

I don’t care the reason, goals or purpose of your blog.

I don’t care who your readers are.

I don’t care what you blog about.

There are certain things your blog visitors wish you knew. If you could sit down with them, they’d tell you.

They’d tell you at least 10 things that make them jump ship before they have a chance to get hooked on your blog.

1. I don’t know what you want me to do when I land on your home page.

If you give your visitors too many choices, too many links to click on, they’ll get confused and go away. Think about the one thing you want them to do. Is it to subscribe to your blog? To sign up for your enewsletter? Or something else?

And get rid of every sidebar widget that doesn’t relate to your blog and/or your business. You may love the top 10 records by decade widget or the one that shows the daily rainfall in Belize, but they just confuse your readers.

2. I want to know who you are right away.

You have the attention of your first-time visitors for scant seconds. They want to know who exactly is this person behind this blog. Besides your about page, consider a small bio box with a little text about you and your photo and place it prominently in your blog’s sidebar.

And research shows that people connect with you emotionally and will remember who you are when they can see your photo.

3. I want to know what your blog is about right away.

Do you have a tagline? A short one-liner that tells visitors right away on the home page what your blog’s mission/purpose is?

Do you list categories of the topics you write about in your sidebar? You don’t have much time (or space) to convince your visitor she is in the right place. Use them wisely.

4. I want stuff I can find quickly with posts that are helpful and easy to read.

Think of your visitor in a red Miata, racing at 70 miles per hour. Because that’s what’s happening when she hits your blog. She depends on road signs to help her find her way.


She’s a scanner. She skims through your stuff looking for the interesting, helpful parts. That means that white space and frequent sub-heads are your friends. Use them liberally. Avoid long pieces of text in your posts.

5. I don’t like feeling like I’m walking into WalMart when I first arrive.

Your visitor doesn’t know you yet. Don’t scare them away with big old ads and posts that just say, “Buy! Buy!” Gently guide readers into your sales funnel after you have developed trust and credibility.

6. Your blinking pop-up windows make me run away.

Those annoying floating or blinking pop-ups should not be the first thing your visitor sees. If you are going to use them (I don’t), be sure your visitor has enough time to engage with your content first.

7. I’d like to read a few sample posts first.

Some first-time visitors want to try before they buy. Give them a few posts on your sidebar they can click through and read so they can get a feel for your content and voice. My blog stats show that I get lots a page views on my “Most Popular Posts.”

8. I want to subscribe but I don’t see how.

Believe it or not, some visitors are at your blog because a friend told them to check out this cool blogger. And that’s a good thing. But getting there, liking what they see and not finding a way to subscribe? Not so good.

share like

Make that sign-up box big and in their face.

9. I don’t like headlines that trick me.

The best way to lose visitors and readers is to tease them with a sensational headline and then not deliver what you promised in your post. Go for appealing. Go for unique and unusual. Just don’t deceive them. Because they won’t come back.

10. I want to feel like I belong.

This may be the most important one. Make every visitor feel welcome. Build a community not a club. Encourage comments and respond to all of them. Because they are your gold mine. And the best way to build your community.

Judy Dunn is a blogger, copywriter and author of Guide to Showing Up Online. Her blog, CatsEyeWriter, is one of alltop.com’s ‘best of the best’ blogs and won a 2011 Top 10 Blogs for Writers award. She is also on the team at For Bloggers, By Bloggers.

Many thanks Judy for your really thoughtful and informative article, I will be reviewing what I am doing ASAP!

Do you have any thoughts on what Judy has said or any other tips on how not to turn your visitors away? Please do let us know.

Please subscribe to The Top 10 Blog using the buttons at the top of the page to make sure you don’t miss out on anything and share with your friends if you like what I do.

*Image credits

Wish – via Judy Dunn

Road sign – wiangya / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Like – Sean MacEntee Flickr

  • Great advice, Judy. I’m a new subscriber to your blog now because I liked your sound advice. It made me take a hard look at my blog!

    • Judy Dunn

      Janis,

      Thanks! The blogging journey can be difficult without a supportive community. So glad you are finding one. And thanks for subscribing. Much appreciated. : )

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  • Courtney Cantrell

    *sigh* I really need to get on the ball and get a subscription thingy up on my blog. Thanks for the reminder, Judy! : )

  • Judy Dunn

    Courtney,

    Good to see you here!

    And yes, a big subscription sign-up box is key. I started getting more subscribes when Bob put a large graphic and customized sign-up box on my home page.

    • Thanks, Judy — good to be here!

      And yes, I need to get my version of “Bob” to help me with just such a sign-up box. *off to write an email..* ;)

      • Judy Dunn

        Glad this ‘jogged’ your memory, Courtney.

  • Great list, Judy!
    I have to say that I’m stunned by the number of otherwise fairly solid blogs that don’t put the blog author’s name front-and-center. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve clicked through to an About page that starts with “I am…’ but never disclosed the author’s name. Amazing.

    Love your tips. Off to share on Twitter.
    :)

    • Judy Dunn

      I agree. People should know on the home page (in a bio box or somewhere else that’s visible) who you are, especially if the name of your blog is not your own name. On the about page, I like to write in first person because it feels warmer. But above my photo, before I even start telling my readers about me, there is my name.

      Great points. Thanks for the read—and the tweet!

  • Max

    Point 6 is spot on. Way too many blogs and news sites welcome you with a big ‘SUBSCRIBE NOW!!!!’ popup before you even had a chance to read a word on their page. I’m not sure if anyone uses them but it feels weird to be expected to subscribe to something I haven’t seen yet.

    What I would like to see more though are links to follow the author on Twitter – not just buttons to tweet about a particular post.

    • Judy Dunn

      Max,

      Somehow I missed your comment. I’m sorry. I so agree on the immediate “Subscribe Now,” especially the ones that’s pops up, covering the blog post content.

      Most definitely, bloggers should have their social media follow button prominently displayed, too. Good point.

  • Thanks for succinctly stating how to make a blog welcoming, accessible. “If you build it they will come”. We want them to come back. Well said.

    • Judy Dunn

      Steve,

      Glad this made sense to you. Thanks for visiting.

  • Is this the part where you go to my blog and make sure I’ve got all these issues under control? :)

    • Judy Dunn

      Ha! Well at least now you have a checklist. : )

  • Judy, So sorry to just be seeing the Mar 7 Webinar. Will you be repeating that, or is is recorded?

    • Judy Dunn

      Hi Mike,

      Not sure on that one. I co-presented with someone else and don’t know if she and I will be doing it again. We had some technical issues with the recording (volume was going soft and loud) but I’ll be offering the pdf report from it on my blog site for a very affordable price if that’s something you are interested in. : )

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  • Excellent pointers, I really like the tip about pop-up as I find them very annoying as well. If I land on a blog with a pop up, 9 times out of 10 I go for the red x, on the close this page tab! Who wants, or needs, a pop up box stating to subscribe to a blog you haven’t even read yet. 

    • Totally agree, that will be something I will always avoid on this site!

  • Barbz 1232

    I think you were talking to me.  I thought my little photos on the side would be decorative, but as I was looking at them last night… I started to think along the line written above “What do you want me to do??
    Changes will be coming!

    • Hi Barbara, many thanks for taking the time to leave your comments here and on Melissa’s post, very much appreciated, will be watching your blog develop with interest, do keep in touch and let us know how you are getting on :-)

      Tony

  • Great advice from Judy and Thank YOU Tony for your wonderful useful series on your blog.

    –Ann

    • Thanks for reading and retweeting this, Ann. Much appreciated.  : )

  • Kcoleman

    Two more…
    1. Unnecessary slideshows make me think that you care about page views more than my reader experience.
    2. Captcha will prevent me from leaving comments…even on REALLY good posts. It’s frustrating (or my eyes just don’t work!)

    • Great points. Slideshows can detract from your content. And yes, Captcha (for readers who don’t know, it’s that crazy bunch of squiggly numbers and letters the blogger makes you duplicate in the box in order to be allowed to leave your comment) puts up unnecessary roadblocks. If you have a good spam filter in place, you don’t need Captcha. 

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