Blog reader engagement is always going to be a hot topic. The more engagement you have, the more social shares and comments you’ll see, and the better SEO all around because of the visibility. It’s a no brainer that engagement matters, but actually getting there is the tough part. In 2015, what’s going to be the key?

5 Ways to Improve Blog Reader Engagement and How to Actually Get There

Once again, the truth of the matter is that improving blog reader engagement has been the topic of discussion for quite some time, and most of the tips out there are the same. It’s actually putting those tips into practice that really needs to be discussed, so below each point are a few ideas about how to get started and actually make some of these ideas a reality:

  1. Use your analytics to your advantage.

Data can help open up your eyes to the type of content that is getting the most clicks and social shares. If you’re not using Google Analytics yet there is a plethora of data you can gather, blog engagement being just one metric. Know where to look and what to look for, and then try to replicate the content that is doing best on your site. Remember that it’s going to take a while to see true trends, but once you do you have to be proactive about making changes to the content that isn’t getting the engagement you had hoped.

Getting Started: Visit your Google Analytics account and navigate to Behavior à Site Content à Content Drilldown. Here you can also find landing page, exit page, and more metrics. Below is a sample screenshot of a content drilldown report. You can learn about more Google Analytics reports for SEO specifically here.

  1. Focus on your load times.

Plain and simple, nobody is going to engage with your blog if they are annoyed at how long everything takes to load. Even if you managed to get someone onto your page, engaging usually means commenting, sharing, clicking on something interactive, etc., all of which needs to load. This makes load time incredibly important.

Getting Started: You can improve your load time by optimizing images, using a content delivery network, compressing your website, checking your plugins, and more. Check out this article for more detailed information.

  1. Use a Related Posts plugin.

If you want people to engage with your blog as a whole, the best way to do that is to help them find other, related articles to engage with if they weren’t finding it wherever they were. A Related Posts plugin is a great way to get people looking around and clicking, not to mention great for navigation. Almost all major publications such as Mashable or Inc. Magazine have something like this on their website, but YouTube is probably my favorite example.

Getting Started: I recommend using the WordPress Related Posts plugin. You upload it just like any other plugin and then you’ll see a list of related articles pop up at the bottom of each blog post. Below is an example from HigherVisibility:

  1. Actually write something that is easy to digest.

How you write matters just as much as the when, why, where, and what of your content, and this is something many companies forget. You have to write something that is easy to digest and understand for both you and your audience.

Getting Started: This is going to be all about your tone and your word choice. It goes back to the basics that every writer learned in school—think about your audience and write with that audience in mind. For example, should you write in a conversational tone, a sarcastic tone with humor, or very informational? You should not only consider your audience, but also consider what you as a writer are good at writing. Don’t try to be something your not by trying to mold your writing into something that doesn’t suit you. It’s all about finding that balance and putting this idea at the forefront of your mind.

  1. Content type matters. Choose a form of content that encourages participation.

Last but not least, this is the obvious one but it has to be mentioned. One of the biggest ways to improve engagement is to focus on the type of content you’re publishing. For example, according to Social Fresh, videos on landing pages increase conversions by 86%. Other types of content that are more likely to get engagement include infographics, contests, or polls, all of which can be made interactive and almost force readers to engage.

Getting Started: Getting started with each different type of content will of course differ based on what you’re after. My recommendation is to start with something easy, like creating a video, and then moving up to something more advanced, like create a contest.

So What Does SEO Have to Do With It?

As discussed in the opening paragraph, the more engagement you see from your blog the more visibility you’ll see overall. This will further open up natural link building opportunities and help you position your website as an authority in your industry (something I think will be incredibly important when in comes to SEO in the future). It works like a snowball effect, and blog reader engagement is that initial push you might need.

Do you have any tips for improving blog reader engagement, either as a publisher or as a reader? Let us know in the comment section below.