Technology

Growing the Readership of a Site: Is it a Technical or Creative Process?

There are arguments on both sides of the site readership debate. On one hand, creating more content is likely to attract more readers to your site. That seems like a fairly straightforward technical process. On the other hand, as search engines such as Google continue to make changes to operational issues in favor of quality content, the need for creative, original material is growing, which means the importance of visuals including videos and page layout needs to be considered. In this case, the process is technical as well as creative.

surveymonkey_logo_380The tech route

You need to understand your audience before identifying ways to grow it. Some useful tools for doing this include Google Analytics and Clicky; they collect data across sites and examine campaigns via the use of tags. Reports are generated from the stats, and you can test your sites using a variety of messages and interfaces to see what sits best with your audience using Google Optimize 360. Clicky allows you to filter and sort data to monitor what is working well and where there is room for improvement. Gathering the data alone will not solve the readership issue, however; you still have to get creative to do something with it.

Surveying your current audience is a good way to identify interests and trends. Sites such as Polldaddy and SurveyMonkey have free options for short surveys as well as paid options for more detailed ones. Think about the answers that will be most beneficial and then write appropriate questions to suit. Keep in mind, however, that surveying readers raises their expectations that you will take action based on their feedback. If you don’t act on the information received, you may disappoint followers or even lose them.

You may want to use bots to help carry out the more mundane and repetitive tasks associated with running sites. Plugins can organize details such as tables of content. Conversion rate optimization (CRO) techniques can help with list building and graphic analyses as well as other functions. Bots can send you news and alerts to save you searching the Web for relevant information or content. They can handle inline queries from your audience, for example, via the text input field in chat mode. This serves to make your site more user-friendly and responsive. If you’ve ever used chat and become frustrated by the standard responses to a non-standard query, you’ll be aware of the potential pitfalls of this.

The creative route

Luckily, there are much better options for growing your readership. While you might choose to adopt some tech tricks to help with day-to-day analyses, your creative approach is what will see you through. It’s no accident that Google is making changes in favor of content of a higher quality. The result is that where your site appears in rankings is increasingly based on good, relevant content rather than endless keyword stuffing.

A site that creates unique and quality content aimed at a specific audience is more likely to build and retain a devoted readership. Effective marketing will attract more site visitors, and excellent content will convert them to readers. Building a niche market is likely to be more effective than trying to be a crowd pleaser, so aim squarely at the bullseye rather than taking a scattergun approach. In this context, it’s important to ensure you source original content that is impartial, such as unbiased news or fair and balanced analysis. After all, there is a site for everything these days and it’s important to be consistently outstanding if you want to succeed.

Quality content takes time to craft, but it’s a worthwhile investment, as is effective marketing. Take a long, hard look at the visuals you use, page layout, and ease of navigation and think about how these could be improved. Pay attention to how good your headlines are as this affects whether a reader wants to read more. Cover topics in depth and accurately because this gives your site an authoritative reputation.

Basics

Finally, there are a few obvious things you should be doing already. If you know your audience, make sure to tell them how you can help them. Send clear messages and get rid of anything on your site that isn’t working well, such as unhelpful widgets or ads that are off-putting. Use your tech skills to improve page load times for your readership, maximize links so that the most important ones are the most prominent, and check for any broken links. Always be consistent about refreshing content that is out of date.

If you want to grow your site’s readership, you’ll need to take an approach that is technically sound but heavily creative to see the most benefits. When you present the right content in the right way, you can attract a loyal audience.

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