5 Tips to Help You Gain and Retain Readers

Getting traffic to a site nowadays has become relatively achievable for those that put the necessary time and effort in it. If you’re just starting out, build your site on a good, search engine optimizable platform (like WordPress, Joomla, Drupal or OS Commerce for small and medium sites), add great content that people will find interesting, useful and entertaining, and the users and search engines will take care of the rest (you could also buy some links, but Google doesn’t endorse this and you risk dropping in their rankings).

Most of the times, people will tell others about your site and will link to it, so you’ll start getting traffic from a wide variety of blogs/sites and social networks, in addition to search engines. This is enough to get to a steady few thousand visitors per month in about 3-6 months, and if you continue posting only good unique content, your site will start being recognized as “trusted” and your traffic will increase exponentially.

Now, the biggest problem for every website (especially online shops, as they are made to sell, and this naturally make people think that the information on the accompanying blog may not be trustful) is keeping the visitors and making them buy or subscribe AND want to come back. Afterall, this is how you make money, right?

Fortunately, people have been trying to optimize their sites since the beginning of the web boom, and there are a few surefire way to increase the odds of your visitors liking your site, buying what you sell and remembering it for all their future needs.

1 – Keep your site’s design simple and to the point

Sure, you may want your brand new online shop to look slick and modern, but there is a limit on how many banners, pictures and videos you can put on it before it becomes unusable, slow and confusing. When designing it, make up your mind about what the site needs to do (provide useful information, make the users want to buy, subscribe or click on your affiliate links) and don’t insert more stuff than needed. By following this rule, you’ll save your users’ screen space (which is always limited), bandwidth (images slow them down a lot) and brain cells (as they won’t have to get pissed off because they don’t know what to do next, especially if they are pressed by time).

2 – Tell your new visitors what your business does

Visitors that come across a new site nowadays are very impatient if they don’t see what exactly does it do. And unless they really want something rare, they’ll stay for only about 10-15 seconds, then go to other sites (your competitors) if there is nothing to explain what exactly does your site provide. This is a bad thing that can be easily avoided: just write a good, short description that you can use in the headline (for example “We sell the best food for your pet dogs and cats”), beside your slogan, if you have one, and have a detailed, yet easy to read “About” page which is clearly visible from any other page on the site.

3 – Clearly tell your users what’s in it for them

They don’t care if you say you’re the best expert in the world on cats, dogs and other pets. The first thing your visitors will ask is how are you different from all other online shops? Just a few years ago, everyone was using discounts and lower prices to differentiate themselves, but it’s just not feasible to lower the prices any more. So you should give them something else, like overnight delivery, free vet checks (not as expensive as it sounds) or satisfaction guarantees. And write it clearly in the header or at least above the fold (“We sell the best food for your pets… and deliver it overnight with a free vet check coupon and a satisfaction guarantee!” or something like that).

4 – Make the navigation as easy and simple as possible.

Don’t make it confusing and frustrating to navigate your site and buy your products. Clearly label the buttons so that anyone can see them and know what to do next. Make the checkout fast and easy and don’t make it a requirement for users to register (instead, you could just ask for their email next to the billing/shipping address, then send them a message saying “Hey, thanks for your order! It would be better for you to register if you plan on buying from us in the future as it will save you time and possible mistakes. It’s quick and easy. Check it out when you have time!). I saw this only on a few sites, and it was so much better to be able to register when you’re reading your email (and have free time) than in the middle of an order (worrying that your information might be lost).

5 – Write in a language that your customers understand

If you’re selling general products, you want to use simple words that anyone can understand, but if you’re selling to a niche like doctors or bikers, it would be better to have the site written in their jargon. This way, you’ll give the impression that you know your stuff and are one of them (i.e. can be trusted). If you don’t know anything about bikes, just write the general text, then ask or pay someone to make it better by using words specific to the niche.

These are only the basic tips that will surely help you make your blog or website “sticky”, so that your customers like it and want to come back. If you want to get the most of it, the only way to go is further customization, experimentation and improving upon the above techniques.

Thomas Alling writes about how you can utilize internet marketing to make money online with your blog. You can visit his blog at MakeMoneyHelper.com

57 thoughts on “5 Tips to Help You Gain and Retain Readers”

  1. Would love to see if you can describe your point no 2 and 3 with few examples …

    1. Renew your blog with guest writers who write in the same niche, is a good way to retain readers.

      1. You replied to our comments … but that one is not sounding like a reply my friend.

        1. sorry, it was meant as a new comment on the bottom of the totally list.

          1. Technary says:

            Yes points 2 and 3 are good

      2. I’ve done the same recently. Opene up my blog and acquired ten professionals to write for my blog. Obviously it helped having a PR 4.

  2. Samuel Ho says:

    Good information for everyone who want to start blogging and online business.

    1. Technary says:

      Yes the information is really innovative and inspiring.

  3. Sadia Komal says:

    yes, Write Clearly and Simple

    1. Use heading, bullets and other mark up wherever essential.

      Taylor described a very nice post on it.

  4. Brock Blohm says:

    Completely agree.
    We are a society that has been trained to desire the information here and now! No waiting :)! So, like you said, we must be to the point – not only in our blog posts, but in the design of the site as well. It’s not the late 90’s anymore. πŸ™‚

    1. Yes that’s why many blogger use to describe what they will get in the post.

      I saw in many video post that blogger described what they added in this video.

  5. Agreed
    Very good information our blog should be unique and have good content about specific niche. The design of the site should be simple and readable.

    1. I agree with you…content is what triggers a following. If one can constantly put out great content, followers will stay more loyal and will link to your website more often.

    2. That’s why for design I always recommend Thesis.

      John’s blog is also on thesis.

  6. Amani says:

    Write with simple language can help customers understand better to our products.

    1. Certainly true and number of your readers and followers will also increase on continue basis.

      Your serp will also increase, you will start for various keywords which you never think of.

      So adding contents on regular basis and consistently quite essential.

  7. I might also add that it is best to include a call to action in your website. Make sure to lead your customers down your sales path successfully!

    1. Call to action or add something which force your readers to act on that … Like adding poll or organise any kind of contest

  8. PPC Ian says:

    Great guest post. Tip 3 is my favorite. You have to deliver huge value for your visitors.

    1. Hey Ian … added few comments on your blog on post of SES San Francisco 2011 Conference Recap

      Kindly check.

      1. PPC Ian says:

        Thanks so much! I will check for the comments!

  9. ScrewLife says:

    Simplicity of a blog is always the key. I quickly leave any blog I find over burdened with so many stuff…And I know most readers will do the same

    1. Technary says:

      You are right. The navigation must be easier.

  10. Free Forms says:

    No doubt fantastic information for all Blogger’s & thanks for the clear explanation.

    1. This information can also be applied outside of blogging

      1. Technary says:

        Yes in real Business too!

  11. I have to agree with above that simplicity of a blog is the key, but more than simplicity I feel good subject material is the key. Many people write blogs and do not stick to a topic. Blog by picking a topic you like and study, learn, and breathe that topic. Readers will come.

    1. Technary says:

      Yes people now a days need quality content to read.

  12. A good and easy way to keep their customers on an online shop is to ask they write comments about the products that they bought from you and give them 50-10% discount for it. People love seeing their name in a website.

    1. Technary says:

      Yes this may be a good method.

  13. prem says:

    Nice Tips John..According to me your 1st Point “1 – Keep your site’s design simple and to the point ” is the main thing to Gain and Retain Readers

  14. Easy, Simple and Clear.

    Those are the three things I take away from this post, and I think it’s important, because too many websites are too cluttered. Google just redesigned Gmail, Gcal, and other services to make them more simple and clear in design and in use.

    Thanks for sharing these basic, yet important and often overlooked tips Thomas.

    1. MykeTech says:

      Yeah I agree. Just look at Apple — simple and useful interfaces I think are most effective.

    2. GlyphTab says:

      I like elegance too. Computers and internet connections have improved so much that can easily handle more elegant sites. Simple and elegant…that’s the way to go today.

  15. Michael says:

    Great post!

    All very clear and has some great information here.

    Thanks for sharing.

    1. Technary says:

      yes the post is very good!

  16. fazal mayar says:

    great post, i really like how you explained everything well. For me good content is the thing that makes visitors comeback

  17. Great advice, thanks John

  18. Stocksicity says:

    Nice points. I think the Design and Navigation could be combined into one single point. It could be just me, but usually when I think of a website design/layout, the word ‘navigation’ is one of the first things that come to mind.

  19. Registering is really getting to be a problem these days. It appears that if they make you register, there is another site offering the same product or service without registration. However, from the sellers point of view, a registration allows a continued contact with the buyer.

  20. I have this WWSGD plugin and it’s TOTALLY customizable within the html. So I’m considering your 2nd point of telling readers what my business is. THAT’S a good point!

    1. MykeTech says:

      Thats a perfect plugin for that! I use WWSGD to tell readers to comment on the post, and to encourage first-time visitors to stick around.

      The great thing about the WWSGD plugin is that you can select a different message for new and returning visitors. This allows you to display a different message to familiar users, and a different message to new visitors.

  21. fas says:

    Most of the blogs are in English so point number 5 is self explanatory.

  22. Larry says:

    Thanks for the great tips. I’m following each of the 5 suggestions as strictly as possible. Tip number 5 about writing in a clear language is especially important I found. I use to find myself writing as if it were my final paper and I desperately needed an A+. It was difficult for people to read. Nowadays, I write the same way I speak or I pretend I’m writing an e-mail to a friend. It’s much more digestible, less confusing, and more entertaining.

  23. Treb says:

    Great tips John!!! You have really have some great points here… It is very helpful… Thanks for sharing…

  24. Danilo says:

    Hi John:

    I subscribed to your ebook and I read it some days ago. I liked it so much. Like you, My first language is not English, but it’s Spanish. I think that I can follow some of your rules and ideas. The Spanish market is different but is growing. I have a website about all kind of tutorials. I chose it because I like to talk about tutorials. I’m thinking to expand the make money online category to be the wider/bigger category of the site, talking about topics like yours.

    Thanks for your help and ideas,

  25. Mike Luo says:

    Simple and easy to follow. Very truthful and helpful advise that points out the obvious. Thanks for sharing.

  26. GlyphTab says:

    Good tips. My site is pretty young and although it’s not a eCommerce site, I founds most of the tips useful. Thanks

  27. Erwin Miradi says:

    Yeah I totally agree with point number 3. It’s always about what’s in it for them.

  28. Technary says:

    Thanks for the tips. I liked the Point No. 5 And I think that the best language will be English to communicate worldwide!

  29. Timo says:

    Really useful. I wrote about point one already sometime ago in my blog. I have seen too often that online stores, blogs etc were just packed with advertisements which made it impossible to stay on it because it got too annoying.

    Point 5 is nice. I am planning to start an online store and the main problem will be the languages (need to put 3 different languages there for my potential customers). Having Online Stores in Europe is not really easy it seems but well, I will try my best.

  30. PlusLocker says:

    Obviously have good content for your visitors to check out like; images, how to’s, etc. My biggest peeve going to a website and having multiple heavy loading flash banners that redline my cpu! I will bounce rather quickly and prob never come back (unless the content is so good I’ll just deal with it).

    Writing style does matter, and personally I prefer reading when someone is conversing with me, not at me. Chow is laid back and easy to read, that is why I come here. And yes you are very right, the “what’s in it for me!” statement rings true. Visitors nowadays are selfish and are always looking for somehting that benefits them.

  31. readers love to have information from websites so we should give them what they need

  32. I totally agree. Great information here. As they say, the money is in the list πŸ˜‰

  33. Gift Ideas says:

    Is the link baiting is the part of this article.

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