If you’d just spent a good bit of time getting your place spiffed up for company, and you were really looking forward to having them come and visit for awhile, would you then welcome them by piling some of your furniture in front of the door for them to climb over? Surely not. Yet, metaphorically speaking, this is what some bloggers do to their visitors.
A blogger friend and I were just discussing this very phenomenon; annoying stumbling blocks bloggers select for their blogs. Annoying enough to have us give up reading and commenting there. And since that’s a large reason — oh, all right, the whole reason — why bloggers blog, we wondered why anyone would shoot themselves in the foot like that. I posited that they must not be aware that by making certain choices they’re likely to be discouraging if not outright chasing away some of their readers.
You’ll read everywhere that the magic formula for getting traffic to your blog is to write niche-focused, well-crafted, interesting pieces. Yep, we all know that’s true. You’ll read everywhere that if you get out to visit and comment on other blogs, those bloggers will follow you back to your blog like Hansel and Gretel following bread crumbs home. Yep, we all know that’s true. You’ll read everywhere that having a clean, attractive, easy-to-navigate template will help keep readers on your blog. Yep, we all know that’s true.
You could be doing all that and still be losing readers.
That’s because what you won’t read as much about is how we may be inadvertently chasing people away from our blogs by the seemingly insignificant choices we make to keep our own lives simpler. If you’re making readers jump through any of these hoops you could be diminishing the chances that your readers will leave a comment, nevermind return to your blog. The good news is that these hurdles are easy to remove.
First Hurdle: If you don’t have your blog set up for rss feeds, you’re losing readers.
Remedy: Most blogs come with rss already set up. Just check to make sure you have the rss feed clicked on your dashboard, and then check that your rss buttons are working. If, for some reason your blog is lacking this feature, get the plugin for your blog platform. Type “rss plugin (your platform name)” into Google and you’ll be directed on where to get and install it.
Second Hurdle: If you’ve set your feed to truncate your post in our readers (or even on your own blog), many readers will delete you. Yes, that extra click to your site becomes a major deterrent when most readers have dozens of blogs they’re trying to get through. If you’re doing this to build up your site meter numbers, there’s a better way. If you’re doing this because you don’t know how to set your feed to full post, there’s an easy solution.
Remedy: If it’s about wanting to know your numbers, subscribe to Feedburner, or the like, which will tell you how many rss readers you have. If you just don’t know how to post the full entry, for WordPress go into your dashboard, click on the Options tab and then on Reading Options. Where it says Syndicated Feeds, click on For each article show: full text. On eBlogger click on Settings, then Site Feed, then Full Text. That’s all there is to it.
Third Hurdle: If you’re using Blogger and you make your readers sign in to comment using only a Google or Blogger account, you could be losing readers who don’t have and don’t want a Google or Blogger account. The point is that nearly all readers want to sign in to comment using their chosen username and their URI, both of which typically relate specifically to their blog. They’ve thought carefully about both of these, keeping in mind that they’re another tool to entice readers to click through to their blog.
Remedy: Go into your dashboard, click on Comments. Enable Other.
Fourth Hurdle: If you use a difficult Captcha (word verification) that’s hard to read, you could be losing readers. We all hate spam. But some of the word verifications are so scrambled that they need to be retyped two or three times to get them correct. Word verification alone is enough to make me think twice about commenting. Add a hard-to-read word verification and I’m outta there.
Remedy: Consider clicking off your word verification altogether and instead using a spam filter plugi