If you’ve been blogging for a while, your experience thus far might have been something like this:
- Spend the first six months writing blog posts where you put your heart and soul into making them useful to readers.
- Listen to the sound of crickets as nobody comes by to visit them.
- Continue plugging away at blogging (and getting links to your site) and finally enjoy the reward: more visitors, some of whom even leave comments, yay!
- Bask in new-found popularity but realize that nobody is reading those early (and brilliant, if you do say so yourself) blog posts.
While it’s nice to have readers, it’s even nicer if they stick around and explore your site.
This is especially true if you’re a book blogger doing a little affiliate marketing on the side (Not sure what that is? Make sure to read my series on How to Make Money as a Book Blogger). Say you did a wonderfully thorough review of your new $200 Kindle six months ago, and you included an affiliate link to said Kindle at Amazon so you could make a few bucks anytime a reader bought one through you. It makes sense to send new readers to that post now and then.
You can probably think of lots of posts you’ve written that you’d like folks to visit. Well, here are a few tips for getting them to read more than your most current blog entries:
1. Link to old posts from within new posts
This seems obvious, but it’s not often that I see authors or book bloggers doing this. You can see where I already did this a couple of times in this post.
If you’re writing along, and you realize you’ve written previous articles that could enhance the reader’s understanding/interest/etc. of the current post, then, by all means, link to them.
If you use WordPress (on your own domain), you can find plug-ins that list “related posts” at the end of every blog entry. I added that recently myself and it’s increased the average amount of time visitors hang out on my site (try installing Google Analytics — it’s free — to monitor those kinds of statistics).
2. Make it easy for readers to navigate your menu to find old posts
It’s possible there are acceptions, but I find it pretty useless when bloggers categorize posts by date. I know this is a common option on Blogger, but I never surf through old posts on a blog that does this, and I’m sure I’m not alone. I have no idea if what you wrote in April of 2009 is going to be interesting to me or not, and I don’t want to click, click, click to drill down and find out.
Instead of using this feature (or in addition to), consider using categories or keywords/labels (an option Blogger offers) for creating a menu. Then, if you’re a science fiction book blogger, I can easily browse through your “space opera” category, since those are my favorite types of SF books.
You might also add a site map or “archives” page that lists the title of every post on the blog. I saw this done well recently on another site, and it’s on my to-do list to add something like this here. For WordPress users, there are plug-ins to do this automatically.
3. Promote old posts on your social media sites
There’s no rule that you can only promote your most recent blog entry. Last Sunday, for a random “inspirational” Twitter tweet, I shared a link to an old interview with an indie author making a great income from her ebooks. Several folks read it, retweeted it, and thanked me for posting it.
There may be entries in your archives that could turn new readers into fans who visit your blog again and again.
4. Do Periodic “Best of” Posts
The longer you maintain a blog, the harder you might find it to come up with fresh new things to write about every week. If you have a day where you’re drawing a blank, consider doing a “best of” post where all you do is write a quick introduction and list links to a number of your older entries. Ideally, these would share a common topic (i.e. book reviews for the best post-apocalyptic science fiction you’ve read this year), so you could give the post a good title that might earn search engine traffic in its own right.
5. Add permanent links to pillar articles in your menu
If you’ve written some informative and/or entertaining posts that you’d really like new visitors to check out, try adding permanent links to them in your menu.
Also, you can find widgets that will list your “Most Popular” or “Most Commented” posts on every page of your blog. While you may not get to hand-pick things this way, it’s all done automatically, and there’s a lot to be said for that!
All right, there are my tips for getting new readers to check out old blog posts. An additional benefit of all this intra-site linking is that you’ll help search engines find your favorite posts too. They don’t value every post on your site equally, and they’ll give more weight (meaning these posts will be more likely to appear in search engine results) to pages that are within one or two clicks of your main page than for those that are languishing in archives 20 pages from the front.
Do you have any tips of your own for getting people to read old posts?