I’ve been helping clients for at least five years by building web content and managing their sites. Through the years, we’ve seen the importance of Google PageRank diminished, the gaming of Alexa ranking nosedive and the rise of analytical data including Google Analytics. Those of us who consider ourselves “writers” are often tasked with handling a variety of ancillary tasks including web page optimization, traffic analysis and social media connecting. Oh, for the days where we were paid solely for our words with the other tasks being someone else’s responsibility!
This brings me to my main point — does the number of web visitors your site receives really matter? If so, should it?
Granted, there are people that are myopic, putting intense emphasis on the number of web site visitors with everything else falling to the wayside. Some websites exist solely to put up videos and sharing these on YouTube. Other sites live or die by the number of Facebook followers they have. Still others measure success by the number of comments left for every article posted.
I think the obsession with traffic has diminished the quality of what people contribute online. Certainly, a smartly written headline is important to draw people in. But, when they are pulled in, is there enough to keep them staying around?
Sure, develop the magnetic headline, but consider the people you want to read what you wrote. Likely, the numbers are far smaller than the broad path that many web masters prefer. Indeed, there may be only a handful of people you really need to reach, especially if you have a niche of limited appeal.
For example, you may have a statistician website, but beyond reaching people interested in statistical theory or data collection, there are only 25,000 of you working in this field according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. You may be able to expand your reach by appealing to mathematicians, actuaries and cost estimators, but you’re still looking at a relatively small potential audience. Even then, you may be battling with various other websites including universities and government institutions to attract interest, making it difficult for you to stand out.
At this point you realize that it isn’t the number of visitors that matter, rather their interest in your site.
Leaving comments is, of course, a good way to gauge your visitors and to engage them while they’re on your site. Comments, however, need to be managed and can take up an exorbitant amount of your time. Instead, there are two ways you can build audience loyalty that starts with writing content that is of interest to your readers, but gets to them in two ways beyond your blog or website. And those ways are through both an RSS feed derived by subscribing to your site and a newsletter.
The feed ensures that highlights or full copies of your articles arrive in email inboxes within hours of you publishing same. A newsletter helps you connect with people in the same way, by allowing you to supplement your online writings with regular updates. With the latter, you can highlight your “best of” articles and you can also give information not shared in your original story, such a back story about an important event. Feed subscriptions and an email list can help build a sense of community, bringing your devoted readers to your site directly.
Naturally, whether you have five visitors daily or 5,000, the ultimate measure of your success should be measured by what action people take. Your web analytics can come in handy here — if your bounce rate is high, then people are visiting and leaving without doing anything else. Lower bounce rates mean people are reading more than one article or are leaving a comment. Or, if you have a product to sell, they may be reading your pitch and deciding whether to buy.
So, back to feeds and newsletters. How do you get subscribers? That’s simple: ask. There is nothing wrong with posting a message on your site explaining to your readers that you would like for them to subscribe to your blog, sign up for a newsletter or do both. Only your most loyal readers will follow through, but that is what you want — a cohort of committed people who appreciate your site instead of hundreds, perhaps thousands of individuals that pass through, but don’t return. With the former, you’ll build your base and have a willing group of people interested in taking action such as buying your product or supporting your site sponsors.
See Also — Give Your Blog a 5-Step Makeover
- What is web analytics? (marketing.yell.com)
- How Accurate are Alexa, Compete, DoubleClick and Google Trends? (kissmetrics.com)
- How To Boost Your Site Traffic Through Social Media (bloggingtips.com)