Encourage your readers to come back for more.
If you’ve been writing for a number of years, you may recall an article or two that has stood out for you. It isn’t always easy to write something that you’ll clearly remember years after the fact, especially if you’re used to writing 3, 5 or more articles per day. But, the article that gets read often is one that you’re likely familiar with, one that keeps appearing near the top of your site’s analytical reports.
Certainly, it is absolutely fun when an article goes viral. You know, when your server goes offline or scores of comments are left. Yes, when scads of Twitter contacts give you a tweet. That short term success can give your blog a needed boost, but it can’t hold a candle to content that gets found and read over and over again weeks, months and even years later.
Creating the right content that regularly shows up in your website’s analytics isn’t rocket science. But, the chances of people finding your best work years later has to do with a few essentials including:
Use evergreen content — News information is good and oftentimes cannot and should not be avoided. But, current event information generally fades away and isn’t thought about again unless it was big news like 9/11. Even then, unless you’re a nationally syndicated columnist, your best writing about a popular event probably won’t stand out — the field is simply too crowded. Instead, write “evergreen” content or something that won’t fade over time. Such content includes instructive “how to” articles that people are looking for as they seek to solve a problem. Write a detailed summary on how to fix a problem. If your instructions are especially detailed, contact an expert in the field to include his or her input. Quote that person and link back to his or her site. People respect authority work and will reference your article frequently as the information never changes. If you like to read and post book reviews, you may find that your review is what attracts ample traffic.
Update your best work — Even evergreen content feels the tinge of age. For example, if you wrote about balloon mortgages in 2006, you know that today this financing option has been put through the wringer. That’s because mostly any nonconventional mortgage has been criticized following the economic collapse of 2008. Balloon mortgages are still around, but they certainly aren’t for everyone. You may want to examine your original article to ensure that the information you share is correct and, perhaps, temper some of your enthusiasm without referencing current events.
Include the appropriate photos — Very detailed and instructive writing is wonderful for conveying helpful information. Even better are those articles that are accompanied by pictures, particularly photographs that show how specific steps are accomplished along the way toward accomplishing a task. For example, if you are including details on how to fill out a form, then showing a picture of that form filled out can be helpful. Draw a big red circle around any point that you want to make to highlight that step. Some people are more visual than others; an appropriately placed picture can speak volumes. An unrelated photo can be a distraction as this “eye candy” picture demonstrates. But then….
Cite with impunity — You don’t steal people’s content, but you most certainly may borrow their ideas. And this is where you can build trust and authority online. When you glean an idea from anyone, make mention of their contribution directly or indirectly. If Laura Spencer of Writing Thoughts gave you an idea on how to write a rant article, then linking to her site — especially to her article — is essential. Laura may or may not see the inbound link to her site, but at least you gave credit where credit is due. Avid web readers know when ideas are borrowed — they’ll consider what you wrote as “stolen” if you fail to cite. Link within the body of your article and/or offer a “References” section for academic work at the end of the article or a “Related Articles” or “Recommended Reading” section for everything else.
Link to your aged content — How many times do you revisit the same subject on your blog? Unless you purposefully write about the same subject time and again, you may not realize that you’ve covered the subject before. Writing about the same subject usually means that you bring in an updated slant to the topic, but are you linking to your related articles? If not, your readers could be missing out on valuable information (never mind the SEO benefit) — offer links to similar articles and you’ll keep your readers around longer. If you have difficulty finding the related links there are two ways to find these:
1. Go to your search bar and type in site:matthewkeegan.com (substitute your domain name for mine) and add in some keywords. In my example I typed in “evergreen content” and found an article I wrote on April 13, 2010. I just linked to the article to show you how easy it is to turn up older, related material.
2. If you use WordPress as your content management system, then you have an excellent weapon at your disposal. There are lots of plug-ins that have been developed to make it easier for you to find something that will do the trick for you. Although I don’t use the contextual related posts plug-in some bloggers use, I can see where it can work out well. Visit this posting from my friend, Lillie Ammann, for an example of this plug-in at work. Scroll down to “related posts” and you’ll see the connection at work.
Of course, frequently updating your website or blog is one of the best ways to ensure that you attract and retain a loyal readership. Even then, those articles that get found and read years after you originally published them can provide an essential foundation for your site. Well read older material tends to be easy to find on the search engine results page and will generally achieve a nice rank from Google. Your personal authority is also raised, giving readers one more reason to bookmark your site and subscribe to your feed.
- 10 Evergreen Strategies To Boost Your Freelance Writing Career (freelanceswitch.com)
- Content is King: Guest Blogging (matthewkeegan.com)
- The Complete Guide to Blogging for your Business (skyrocketseo.co.uk)