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Have you ever come across a blog, read (or skimmed) a couple of entries, and then surfed away for good? That's exactly what you don't want your blog visitors to do. You want return visitors who are engaged by your content, because they are the folks most likely to convert to customers.

The following "secrets" will help you turn casual visitors into loyal fans.

1. Keep your content fresh and simple

Constantly publishing new content makes for a happy reader and a happy search engine. You don't need to post every day (although some bloggers do), but you should add something new to your blog at least once or twice a week.

Also remember that you're blogging, not writing a novel. When online readers see long sentences and paragraphs, they quickly tune out and move on to something easier to digest.

Here are some tips to follow:

  • Break up your points into short and to-the-point sections.
  • Sections should be no more than three or four short paragraphs.
  • Use bullet points and number lists as often as possible.

2. Fit in, but stand out

It's all well and good if your interests are in botany and your posts typically center on the rare indigenous species of the Island of Samoa. Just don't expect to draw a large crowd by writing about a subject only a few are interested in.

To gain a large follower base, choose popular topics, such as entertainment, news, finance, and fashion. State more than just the facts. Add your own opinions or discuss how current events might affect the lives and businesses of your readers.

For example, if you're an SEO company, don't just describe Google Penguin. Give your readers tips for weathering the new algorithm.

3. Invite comments—and monitor them

Engage readers in your blog by encouraging them to leave comments. One way of doing that is to end each blog post with a question. For example, if you're writing a post about Google Penguin, you might end it by asking, "How has Google Penguin affected your page rankings?" or "Have you changed your website to accommodate Google Penguin?"

Make sure you then answer those comments. Doing so will show your readers that you care about them and what they have to say.

Also pay attention to make sure that no one is leaving spammy comments. Most blogs require comments to be filtered or approved; if yours doesn't, make sure you're checking regularly for spam, or your blog will look neglected.

4. Feature guest bloggers

Guest bloggers can boost your blog's popularity by bringing in a new batch of readers—fans of the guest blogger. Reach out to other bloggers who cover topics similar to yours, or locate someone who has just published a book on the subject you're covering, and ask whether they would be willing to write a guest post for your blog. It's great publicity for everyone.

5. Offer contests and giveaways

Send a free e-book to every visitor who signs up to receive your newsletter, or hold a simple contest for prizes. For example, you might send the person who tells the best story in your "comments" section an Amazon gift card.

6. Select ads carefully

There's nothing wrong with monetizing your blog by placing a few well-selected ads where visitors are most likely to see them, but make sure they don't take over your content.

You should also vet your ads carefully so that you don't end up flashing X-rated sites or even sites that have nothing to do with your blog.

7. Keep your design clean

You can probably make your blog play music, flash pop-up ads, and turn the background color neon green... but don't. Too much razzle-dazzle can put readers off. Opt for an easy-to-navigate design with no surprising noises or pop-ups. Your readers will thank you. Better still, they'll come back for more.

8. Stick to a single topic

Your topic can, and often should, be broad, but every post should somehow relate back to an overarching theme. If you're writing about cars, you can write reviews of new cars or talk about problems you're having with your family car. What you don't want to do is compose a post that has absolutely nothing to do with cars. People didn't come to a car blog to read about your experience at your family reunion.

9. Solve your visitor's problems

Visitors usually come to a blog for a reason, whether they're looking for celebrity gossip, "how to" information about choosing a new puppy, or ideas for better parenting. Most blogs offer the ability to set up a poll so that you can ask readers why they are visiting your blog and which types of articles they find most helpful.

10. Sprinkle in some eye-candy

Whoever said that a picture was worth a thousand words had the right idea, especially online. You can use your blog to post pictures of products you are selling, infographics made by your company, and videos that support the substance of your piece and might catch the reader's eye.

11. Use eye-catching headlines

The title of your post is the most important factor in the reader's decision to click on your link; yet, somehow, countless inexperienced bloggers treat the title as an afterthought.

"Instructions for Changing the Oil in Your Car," is boring. "10 Easy Tips for a Do-It-Yourself Oil Change" is a much more interesting title, and it's likely to get more attention from readers.

12. Visit other blogs

You can publicize your blog by visiting other, similar blogs, reading the posts, and leaving appropriate comments. Don't spam and don't overtly invite readers back to your blog. Simply leave a relevant comment with a link to your blog.

13. Change it up

You don't always have to write the same style of article. Use lists, interviews, guest posts, "top 10" pieces, and even videos or podcasts to keep your visitors engaged and coming back to see what on earth you will do next.

Final Thoughts

Great writing and interesting content will put you in the position to grow your audience and increase your standing as a blogger on the Web. Whether you are posting about breaking news from the Middle East or providing insight into how to best organize computer tables,  take the time to do the little things that make a post stand out.

Continue reading "13 'Secrets' to Engaging Your Blog Site Visitors" ... Read the full article

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Michelle Rebecca works for SEO company WebpageFX as a content coordinator for its online public relations team.