If your daily stats aren’t too bad, but you don’t increase your subscribers or following, this post is for you.
Here’s my disclaimer for the neurotic in all of us: Sometimes things like this are out of our control. There is only so much you can do to compete against all the other blogs out there. You don’t want to drive yourself nuts. If you enjoy your blog, that is where your ultimate fulfillment comes from.
If you are consistently getting traffic, but people aren’t staying? Perhaps your blog isn’t sticky enough.
These are the top 30 reasons people might be clicking away from your blog once they’ve found you.
1. You write something that has already been covered extensively elsewhere.
If you are writing about weight loss, for example, you either have to outdo the competition or put your unique spin on it. Otherwise, why would people go to you when there are other resources that are more complete? If you know you can’t make a tutorial or piece that is more complete, it doesn’t automatically mean you shouldn’t write it — you simply need to cover a portion of the topic more completely. Break down the theme into smaller parts and do extensive research on one piece.
Before you write, ask yourself:
- Is this topic overdone?
- Am I biting off more than I can adequately chew?
- Am I inserting anything unique or adding value to this topic with my opinion?
2. Your blog isn’t optimized for mobile viewing.
More and more, people read on iPhones, tablets, etc. If they can’t navigate your site easily, they’ll move on. If you don’t have a theme that gives you mobile optimization, you can use Jetpack’s mobile module 0r a plugin that WP touch. The free versions are fine for basic blogs, but if you are a big site– you might want to consider creating an app for your site.
3. Your blog coloring makes it difficult to read.
You’d be surprised how many blogs I have stopped reading because the colors cause eye strain. Keep it simple, use white. If you absolutely must have a darker color as a backdrop, consider using gray for text, rather than bright white. The muted gray (although it must be a light shade) will help the text not to vibrate on the screen.
4. It’s difficult to find anything because you have three or four layers of menus and tabs.
You want to be organized, but not so organized that your reader has to go clicking through a dozen options before finding what he/she wants. Many bloggers I work with are confused about the difference between categories and tags.
- Categories should be broad enough that every post you write can go into at least one. Your blog (ideally) should have no more than 10 categories. If you say “Impossible” than you categories are too specific. If you are the type who puts everything into “General” — well, it’s time to dig deep and get a bit more specific.
- Tags are keywords (no, not for search engines) — for your readers. You can use the most common tags and create a tag cloud or custom menu using these words. These can be more specific, but still- shouldn’t number in the 100’s.
For example, if you have a blog about blogging, a category could be social media. The tags would be Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. Then use categories and tags to create kick butt navigation that helps your reader explore more of your old posts.
5. You write like you’re still in college.
As much as I value correct grammar and logical thought, blogs that are too “academic” are going to lose the average reader. Blogs are associated with light and easy reading (unless of course you are writing a surgical niche blog – carry on then).
Each blogger has to find his/her voice. If you are writing about photography and aren’t into the science behind it, then add your colorful splash and by all means — write about the annoying clients, the ugly babies you have to photograph in a planter, etc. Don’t try to compete with the tech nerd a few sites down who’s giving a tutorial on how to manually adjust the aperture (not sure that’s even factually correct because I’m not a photographer).
6. You write in long paragraphs.
Paragraphs don’t work well on blogs. Short blurbs, sentences, and lists. I know people hate that Twitter has reduced us to such things, but it will help tremendously if you write in short bursts. Use headings and bullets too. One thing I advise — don’t alter the colors. This automatically signals a link to most readers, and if it isn’t– you’ll piss them off. Just use sizing, styling, and spacing to make your content readable.
7. Your blog takes too long to load.
All those widgets and ads are slowing down the loading time and people don’t want to wait. There are all kinds of posts out there about speeding up a site’s speed, but the basics are this:
- Don’t install a plugin you don’t absolutely need
- Keep your image sizes small and optimized for the web
- Don’t do a lot of extra CSS coding, beyond what is necessary
- Make sure all your sites on your server are optimized so the host provider doesn’t clamp down on you
- Use a caching plugin like W3 Total Cache or WP Super Cache
If you are interested in your site’s speed, you can check out GT Metrix, which offers a free testing tool and lots of great information.
8. Your social media buttons and subscription widgets aren’t immediately visible.
You want to have your buttons and subscribe options right at the top of your site, either above the header or in the sidebar. In addition, add a custom signature at the end of every post encouraging people to follow you or sign up for a newsletter. Make sure all your social profiles are filled out extensively. People don’t want to have to work for something, so give it to them on a silver platter.
9. You complain all.the.time.
Rants are fine (and funny!), but too much of any one thing is annoying. Similar to complaining, excess use of formulas (like top ten lists) can get very old fast. Not only does it bore your reader, but your own writing skills and creativity will suffer as a result. There are actually several different types of blog posts you want to be writing in order to capture all the possible audiences. I’ve outlined them here.
10. Your grammar is horrible.
Unlike people who do #5, if this is your issue, get a grammar book! Hire an editor. Learn how to write. There’s nothing more important than your content. Remember, even if you don’t know all the rules of the English language (and people will forgive you for a misplaced hyphen or semi-colon), you must make your posts engaging. Talk to your reader in the 2nd person.
11. You don’t respond to those who ask questions in the comments.
I know there are different etiquette rules about this, but one thing is for sure – if you have a new commenter or someone who poses a question in the comments? Answer them!
As I sit here and write this, I know I am guilty of this crime myself and it’s a shame. When someone reaches you, you have an opportunity to make a personal connection– you never know where that will lead in the future. If you want to be sure they see your response, use a comment reply notification plugin or Facebook comments– they’ll get a notification when you’ve responded.
12. You have too many or too few photographs.
Some posts only need one good image. Others need multiple. Know when images will enhance your point and when it’ll just clog up and slow down the loading time of the post. For example, if you write up a recipe, have at least a couple of photos! But if you are writing about writing, lots of pictures will just annoy your reader.
13. You only show the good side of you.
People want to connect with the blogger when they read. Sometimes you might have an initial influx of viewers because your blog and story look all nice and pretty, but if it lacks the “real” factor, people won’t stay around long. After all, who wants to go to a blog and feel inferior when they are done reading?
14. People come and the blog feels “owner-less”.
Have you ever been to a blog and can’t find a picture of the author, a bio, or any sort of personalization? Those blogs get thrown in the trash heap because they feel owner-less. Avoid this by having a picture of you with a bio right on the front page. Customize your theme so it doesn’t look like it’s right-outta-the-box, and for the love of God, please change the tagline in the WordPress settings to something other than “Another fine WordPress site!”
15. Your blog is full of fiction works and other works-in-progress.
Now before you stone me for saying such a thing, let me rephrase it. If you are a writer and your blog is solely for showing your work, that’s one thing. Your audience expects it and so you are delivering on that promise. If however, you are a blogger who ALSO writes and posts their WIP, well – I hate to say it – but people don’t care. Well your mom does…and maybe your best friend. But ultimately, people want quick, fast, easily digestible information. WIP are usually unpolished and not easy to digest. I learned this the hard way when I began working on a novel and thought my personal blog would be a good place to show parts of it off.
That said, if you are managing both– customize your navigation so people land on a page that is your general blog feed (minus the works) and then have those works be on another tab. Here’s how you do it:
- Go into your Dashboard > Settings > Reading
- Change it so your blog lands on a static page.
- Customize your landing page with a welcome and some widgets that link to either your latest posts, popular posts, etc.
- In addition, create a menu bar that has two tabs — one that says BLOG — and one that says Works in Progress (or whatever you want to call it). Link them to the two categories you’ll create in the next step.
- Create two categories in Posts > Categories. One should be BLOG and one should be WIP. You can have more categories as well.
- Every single post that is a general post should be categorized as BLOG and whatever category it falls into. Your WIP should only be categorized as WIP.
- This means that nowhere will people see a full blog feed – instead they’ll see two blogs – one with posts, one with works.
16. Your blog doesn’t say ANYTHING.
You’ve read these types of posts before I’m sure. Maybe even wrote a few yourself. You get to the end and feel…nothing. Thing is, even a post about laundry can make someone laugh or cry. It isn’t the subject, it’s how you write. If you are giving everyone your daily to-do list, SNORE. But if you are YOU in it, well that’s a different story. Avoid writing something that evokes NO emotion whatsoever.
17. You try to cover 18 topics in one blog post.
Just keep it simple. One or two thoughts are enough. Otherwise, there is nothing for people to take away and remember. This also relates to #1 — it’s hard to extensively cover a big topic and chances are– someone will do it better than you. Go small and do it well.
18. Your posts aren’t evergreen.
This isn’t necessary all the time. After all, blog posts are meant to be a running commentary on life or food or whatever. But if you only write posts that make sense in the current week, you won’t be able to use and promote your old posts years down the road.
I’m in the process of slowing changing my personal blog into an evergreen blog, rather than just humdrum diary posts. Consider using a Facebook page or other profile to give the fun tidbits of life and save your blog for the best of the best.
19. Your posts require back story.
If you absolutely need to do a continuation, create a blurb at the beginning so people can go and catch up. Series that need back story will make people feel like,
“Well I’ve missed too much so I’m not going to catch up now.”
20. Your first sentence has no hook.
When you write a book, you need the hook right in the first chapter. With a blog post, it needs to be first sentence. How do you get your reader to go to the next sentence after the first? Think like that and your posts will immediately be more attractive and magnetic.
21. Your blog post is too long.
It drags on and on and on and on and….
The only exception would be if you’re writing a tutorial or how-to. These posts can go on for days and people don’t care, as long as they are getting the answers they need.
22. Your blog post is too short.
23. You advertise to all the wrong people.
If your blog is about food, why are you tweeting it to all your fellow foodie bloggers? You should grow a reader base of people that will USE your information, not compete with it. Go for working Moms, Dads, or single women who have an interest in domestic “Stuff”.
This feeds back into your social media strategy. Some platforms are better for connecting with likeminded bloggers. Others should be used to hit your target demographic.
24. You use too many adverbs and adjectives.
I’ve read blog posts that use actually, literally, truly, really, very, way way way too much! Cut out all those unnecessary words!
25. You’ve sold out.
A lot of big name bloggers do this. Once they have a big following, their blog posts start to turn sour. There are fewer of them, less polish, less meat, just less. In this case, most of them don’t care because they are already pulling in millions of views, but still – you won’t get NEW readers to stick around if you aren’t giving the reader something to remember you by.
26. You don’t read your post like a stranger.
We get familiar with our blog voice. We forget to read it like the new person off the street. Try looking at it like a complete stranger who has no vested interest in your life or your kids or your job. Why would they stay? When you can answer it with, “Well because I…” and come up with something, then you are on the right track.
27. Your font is too small.
This is such a silly one, but it is true! People need bigger fonts, especially because the devices are smaller. Make sure your font size is big enough.
28. Your blog has too many advertisements.
Blinking and flashing videos and ads are distracting. Try to keep the advertising to a manageable level. I know we all need revenue, but not at the cost of your content. This is a personal preference, but eliminate the sidebar on either side look unless what you’re showcasing is amazing. Usually it’s just blog buttons and awards and other stuff that most people don’t really care that much about.
29. Your niche isn’t well-defined.
I’m guilty of this. My personal blog is nicheless. I know I’d have a LOT more readers if I lasered in and focused on becoming the expert in one or two topics. If your blog isn’t growing, you might have to bite the bullet and take a risk at narrowing your writing topics. This isn’t for everyone, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t include it on this list.
30. You are burned out and lack passion.
If you are tired of your blog, tired of writing, and tired of posting, that will come through. Try taking a bit of a break. Refocus. Regroup. Change your direction. You might find your passion come rushing back. I wrote a post about what to do if you are an overwhelmed blogger.
I realize that for every one of these, you might be able to find a blog that is wildly popular and does at least one of these things. I know in some cases, I make generalizations, but this list is for people who are trying to troubleshoot why they lack sticky readers.