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