How To “Top Kill” The Big Leaks In Your Blog (Better Than BP Could)

The truth is, most people’s blogs leak worse than the Deepwater Horizon leak in the Gulf. You’re not leaking oil (obviously), but what you’re leaking is attention units. The biggest commodity online today is ATTENTION. So, if we break it down into a measurable pseudo-quantity we’ll just call “attention units”, we can then look at our blogs from that perspective. Our blogs are supposed to be magnets for attention units. And once attention units are being flowed at the blog, the blog should funnel them efficiently. Not bounce them off or waste them. If you’re leaking attention units, it is a waste. So, our goal is to attract as many attention units as we can, and KEEP them once we’ve got them. In this post, I’m going to look specifically at the leak points and how to plug them. We’re going to “top kill” the hell out of those leaks, and we’re going to put BP to shame in the process (which wouldn’t be very hard, given the circumstances).

leaky_pipe2 The truth is, most people’s blogs leak worse than the Deepwater Horizon leak in the Gulf. You’re not leaking oil (obviously), but what you’re leaking is attention units.

The biggest commodity online today is ATTENTION. So, if we break it down into a measurable pseudo-quantity we’ll just call “attention units”, we can then look at our blogs from that perspective.

Our blogs are supposed to be magnets for attention units. And once attention units are being flowed at the blog, the blog should funnel them efficiently. Not bounce them off or waste them. If you’re leaking attention units, it is a waste.

So, our goal is to attract as many attention units as we can, and KEEP them once we’ve got them. In this post, I’m going to look specifically at the leak points and how to plug them. We’re going to “top kill” the hell out of those leaks, and we’re going to put BP to shame in the process (which wouldn’t be very hard, given the circumstances).

The Bounce Rate

One of the major blog leak points takes place before you even have much of a chance. A new visitor comes to your blog, says “meh”, and immediately leaves. In other words, they “bounce”.

The percentage of overall traffic that bounces is what is called your bounce rate. The game is to reduce that bounce rate. It is quite typical to see bounce rates over 50% with blogs, and this isn’t anything to be concerned about. However, if you start getting into the 70+% range, you might want to look into it.

The main thing to keep in mind with bounce rate is that it is natural. The reality is that not everybody who arrives on your blog fits your target audience. If that is the case, you WANT them to leave. However, if they do fit your target audience profile, you want them to quickly see that the blog offers something of value.

So, how can we minimize this leak?

  1. Have a clear byline in your blog’s header. It isn’t enough just to have a logo. You need to have a brandable phrase which clearly tells what the blog is about. Avoid being “tongue in cheek” with your byline at the expense of it not being clear to new arrivals. Just because it makes sense to you doesn’t mean it makes sense to others. The byline of this blog is “Confessions of a Six Figure Blogger”, which clearly shows that this blog is about blogging for money.
  2. Simplify the homepage. When you give new arrivals too many options, they’ll often just leave. It might seem counter-intuitive. A newbie might think that lots of stuff means “busy site so it must be cool”. Well, no. You need to practice the motto, “Don’t make me think.” 🙂 Most blogs have too much on the homepage (including my own, in fact). Try reducing the clutter, and instead drawing the eyeballs into a primary target (such as a list opt-in). Hint: I have some design adjustments to this blog in mind which will execute this strategy. 😉
  3. Show related posts on single post pages. Many people will arrive on your blog on one of your posts, not your homepage. So, the goal here is to get them to do something else once they’ve read your article. Related posts are a great way to do it. Place them at the end of your post to give them a place to go once they’ve finished reading. There are a number of plug-ins out there for this, however the one I’m using is Yet Another Related Posts Plugin.
  4. Make your About page interesting and easy to find. My own stats and testing constantly show that the About page is one of the more popular pages on the blog for new arrivals. It is valuable real estate. So, make sure it is visible and easy to find. Secondly, make your about page interesting. In other words, don’t just make it some factual piece of boredom like a resume or an encyclopedia entry. Make it HUMAN. Tell a story. Treat it like a sales letter – for you.
  5. Make your text scannable. Readers are lazy. If they see a big, justified blog of text, they will just leave. Instead, structure your posts to use a lot of small paragraphs, bullet points, headers, etc. They should be able to quickly scan a post and get the point.
  6. Use professional images in your posts. Large, professional images really help with the professionalism of the blog. And that makes people stick around. I suggest getting an account with Istockphoto, buying some credits, and using it. You don’t need to go crazy with it, but if you are posting a nice feature post to your blog, it is worth the couple bucks for a nice image for it.

Leak Points

Once you have people on your blog, reading your posts, there are still points of leakage and wasted opportunities. Let’s fix ‘em.

  1. Optimize your money posts. Most blogs have certain posts which, for one reason or the other, excel in terms of traffic and end up being major, long-term traffic magnets. I call these “money posts”. If you have money posts on your blog, you should strongly consider treating them differently than your other posts. They’re like homepages in and of themselves! Check out this post on how to leverage your money posts.
  2. Subscribe options on your About Page. I just looked and I’m not even doing this! (Shame on me). The About page, as I said above, is high-traffic real estate. If done right, it serves as a sort of sales letter for you and your blog. So, right there on the about page, give people options to get onto your mailing list, RSS feed, etc. Just makes sense, right? 🙂
  3. Promote your OWN products. I understand that, for many bloggers, the idea of having your own stuff to sell seems like a daunting task. But, let’s look at it from a leakage standpoint… When you have ads on your site, each one is an invitation for your reader to LEAVE your site. Hello?! At least when you promote your own stuff, you’re keeping them within your empire.
  4. Relevant offers during the subscription process. When somebody opts into your mailing list, you can think of that as a sale even though no money is changing hands. They’ve just decided you’re worth their time. So, present relevant additional options to them. On the page where you tell them to confirm their email, tell them “while they’re waiting” they can follow you on Twitter, fan you up on Facebook, etc. On the page they see after they’ve confirmed their email, present additional relevant offers. Display your ebook(s), your products, etc. This is a PRIME time to get your reader to do things because they’re very receptive at that point.
  5. Relevant calls to action on posts. You should always give people something to do after reading a post. It could be reading another post, getting onto your list, or even buying a relevant affiliate product. And if you can keep it relevant, all the better. For instance, if I have a blog post about building an email list, a call to action to refer them to Aweber makes a lot of sense. Or if you have multiple e-books, give them an opt-in for the most relevant e-book to the post they just read.
  6. Collecting email addresses on comments. People are using their email address when they post a comment on your blog. Why not give them a one-click option to get onto your list? This is a perfect opportunity to do it because, by commenting, they’ve proven they’re an engaged reader. My recommendation for this is Action Comments, however it only works if you’re using the built-in comment system. Unfortunately for me, I’m using Disqus.

The Key Is… Step Into Your Reader’s Shoes

Underlying all of these “top kill” techniques above for your blog is the simple necessity of thinking like your reader.

As bloggers, it is far too easy to have tunnel vision with your own blog. After all, it is your pride and joy. You think it is good, but for some reason it may not be resonating with your audience. And that can be reflected in your bounce rate.

You need to get really good at looking at your site from an outside perspective. Where are your readers coming from? What mindset are they in when they arrive? What are they looking for? How do they interact with your blog?

You’ve got some tools to employ to help you figure this stuff out:

  1. Surveys. Use them. Find out what your users need and want, and as much as possible, have them tell you this in their own words. I recommend SurveyMonkey or Google Spreadsheets.
  2. Analytics. You absolutely HAVE to use a robust statistics package on your blog. To not do this just leaves everything to guesswork. My personal recommendations are Google Analytics and GetClicky.
  3. Click Testing. I recommend using a tool like Crazyegg to run some click tracking tests. This will determine where their attention goes. You might also want to check out Attention Wizard, which can do visual attention prediction. With UserTesting.com, you can get real, live people to interact with your site and give you feedback.

You owe it to yourself to take the time to really fine tune your blog and plug the leaks. To do that takes data, and the tools above will help you get that information.

With that, happy leak plugging! Let’s hope you have better success than BP. (ugghhh)

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Responses

  1. Hi David, This is one of the best. I spent hours following your direction and I hope it will make a big difference when I am ready to do my launch Sheila

  2. I especially like the point about maximizing the attractiveness of our about us page. As a consumer, I agree that the about us page is indeed the first page I visit after a site's homepage.

  3. Fantastic post, David! I already went back and implemented some changes in my About page, which does get lots of traffic. Thanks for that tip and all the others.

  4. David, What a wonderful, practical post. I printed it off and am making all the changes to my blog. Would never have made it this far without you. Thanks, Sheila Cragg

  5. This is a great article, can tell you have put a lot of thought into it. I'm actually in the process of writing my first ebook and I'll be using a lot of your valuable tips when it's time to promote and launch.

    Thanks for the great info.

    Ben

  6. Great information, as always, Dave – thanks so much! Need to make a list, check it twice…..and implement. Love the recommendation to promote my own products……..brilliant!

    Thanks again for your generosity,

    Pat

  7. So much here that I have not been doing such as tracking my bounce rate and optimizing my “money posts”. Thanks once again for sharing your knowledge.

  8. Ouch, I've paid attention to my bounce rate, but never really paid close enough attention. It looks like I have some work to do, to get it down.

  9. Great post, David.

    If you give your readers an easy to navigate website, they will go from page to page, build trust that you are a decent person and not some spammer, and then start reading your content. First time viewers don't want to be bombarded with 800 different things, so having a design much like yours simplifies everything.

  10. David, A lot of really good suggestions here that I can't wait to try out on my blog. My about page could use an update and I feel like my newsletter optin box is less than noticeable…

    Yet Another Related Posts Plugin? Don't even get me started. 😉 I actually quit using YARPP several months ago when it stopped working and then crashed my site. I did some research and found it uses a lot of resources. I'm now using Microkid's Related Posts plugin and LOVE it. I can actually pick which posts I want to link to and it uses way less resources because it actually appends the links to the post instead of using PHP to call similar posts each time a post is viewed…

  11. Not much integrates with DISQUS. While I adore the commenting system and the community it breeds by alerting commenters of replies and allowing email replies, there are things like Action Comment and CommentLuv, not to mention Comment Numbering, that simply won't integrate. I've personally contacted DISQUS and they seem to have no interest in these things. Sigh. So, the question then becomes, what is the most important for MY blog. In the past few weeks I have seriously been considered a switch away from DISQUS to a combo of the default commenting system, CommentLuv, ReplyMe, and now Action Comment.

  12. I hear you on that. At least with Disqus one can get some additional insight on any registered user who leaves a comment, for instance when you click on the picture of the commenter and then click on the profile link you can get to see all the sites within the Disqus system that they have left comments recently.

  13. To my knowledge, it won't. For me, that was the only drawback when I switched over to Disqus. But, I'm still happy I did.

  14. Totally smacking myself in the forehead, (oy) You nailed a good one for me. My “About Me” page get's a pretty good bit of traffic however I don't have any call to action about joining my email list.

    Doh! This post was worth that alone! I'm on top of quite a few of the points but that's the biggest one.

    Sweet post. I'm going to also target my “money posts.”

    Thanks brother!

  15. Wow thanks for this, it's been an eye opener for me, because I've wanted to see how to improve my bounce rate, I thought I'd have to get rid of the trampoline!

    And I like the fact that you do these tricks to get people to stay on your blog and stay connected as much as possible, I think the penny is finally dropping on this front….

    Thanks a lot Dave!

  16. As I am always trying to improve my young blog these tips are excellent to keep into consideration while fine tuning my content as well as my site. I don't know why I haven't stopped by here more often before this.

  17. @David, first of all nice title, it was catchy. I got your email about this blog post and had to run over to read it. It was a worthwhile read and what stood out for me was the recommendation of using the Action Comment plugin. I use the Disqus commenting tool and I am wondering how action comments will integrate with it. Do you currently have it implemented on this blog?

  18. I know the feeling… I sometimes feel overwhelmed with all the projects I'm working on. Currently I'm in the midst of creating my first coaching program on how to do all this stuff. Lots to do in ones lifetime 😉

    On a side note, if you need any help with the re-design let me know! I'm a Web Designer/Senior Level Flash Developer and have been at it for over 16 yrs. Would be happy to lend a hand, just let me know!

  19. True. I'm personally not a big fan of overusing it, though. Some people (including me) find it a bit annoying. But, yeah, there are definitely times to use it.

  20. Really great idea. Yeah, I'm currently in the midst of a big project over on PCMech.com to re-design it and get a whole lot of things done. Going to be making much more use of the Goals function of Analytics. Plus, need to get my own bounce rate down over on that site.

    So much to do. 🙂

  21. The Great Wall Of Text is one of the best ways to get your bounce rate sky high and win the big prize of not getting readers back!

    Structuring your posts so people can scan for the info they are looking for is a great way to keep readers, as well as get them to comment more. Most readers will comment about just one line you wrote (or maybe on paragraph), kinda like I am doing now….

  22. Hi Dave,

    Good info, something a lot of people don't do when they put a link on their site/blog is add the 'open in new window' tag to the link like this: target=”_blank” or target=”_new” this keeps the reader on the page.

    Monte

  23. Great Post David!

    I've been on top of nearly every point you've discussed in this blog and am proud to say I've managed to keep my bounce rate in the 50%-60% range.

    I don't have much else to add to this post, but will make one recommendation.

    I use goals in Google Analytics to track how effective my sales funnel is. This can also be a great way for you to track how users are navigating your content. I recommend setting up a goal within your Google Analytics account that tracks how users are navigating your site to see if specific content such as your “money posts” are drive traffic and converting it to the areas you want them too. This of course is a high level suggestion that once you understand it, can be extremely powerful in helping you determine what content is working best and how best to use it.

    Outstanding post!!!

  24. David, this is really good info. I'm going to review my blog to see how I might be able to apply several of your suggestions.

    Thanks,
    Debbie

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