Are You Using Relationships and Links to Increase Traffic?

By: Marilyn L. Davis

“If the wrong reader comes across the words, they will remain just words. But for the right readers, your vision blooms off the page and is absorbed into their minds like smoke, where it will re-form, whole and alive, fully adapted to its new environment.” ― Mary Gaitskill

 

Attracting Right Readers: They’re Reading, Returning, and Responding

One of the ways we know if our writing is read is to review our statistics. Now, I darn near flunked out of that course, so just the word conjures up visions of data, strings of numbers, analysis, and most things I leave to my grandchildren – they like that stuff. Me, I just want simple. Two hundred people came from Facebook, four hundred came from Google, and one soul, bless their hearts, came all the way from Linkedin.

But views don’t tell the whole story. Even those statistics aren’t a precise account of whether the right reader is reached. For a better analysis of that, we have to be mindful of the comments.

Comments are a significant gauge of whether we’re reaching our right reader.

If the statistics were accurate, I got 100,000 views in eight months, writing at another site. But don’t worry, I’m not saying I have the formula, or that I’m selling books on “how-to attract the right reader” for only 99 cents if you act now. No, I want you to continue reading and possibly use some of this information to help you attract your right reader.

Writing is solitary, but publishing our posts puts that writing out there for public scrutiny, and readers today are more discerning than when I first found the internet – the information highway of old.

I think most of us were just so excited to find any information about a topic we liked, that we didn’t care about typos, poor grammar, or bad syntax. We didn’t understand SEO or overused keywords. Heck, we didn’t even know about some of that in 1994 when I created my first website!

Readers are still traveling it today, but writers have to create the most interesting, informative, and value added post they can on any given day. 

There are close to 2 million articles published daily, just on WordPress. And if the other writers have excellent content, promote on social media, and use SEO strategies, their content will be discovered. If they are doing a better job, maybe we can learn from them. 

We can’t just write our blog, and then hope the right reader stumbles upon our content.  

That’s like sitting on the side of the road, knowing what you have to say has value, and waiting to be discovered, or thinking that the writing is worthwhile, or that someone will recognize its value, eventually.   More than likely, that post won’t be found.

We have to help our readers find us. We have to write our blog, then:

It helps if you think of these as large road signs that point readers to your post, rather like, “Exit here for the content”. Just make sure that readers are getting great content when you point them to your site.

Today, readers have the benefit of quality posts, and will leave quicker than you can say, “Wait, it gets good towards the end of the piece”.

If we don’t capture our readers from the first sentence, keep them interested through the content, and give them a reason to make it to the conclusion, we will lose them, and if we lose them, they probably won’t return.

So, if your reader makes it to the end, and then likes, shares, or comments, you have a responsibility to interact with them. They did their job – they read the post, but commenting is not required, and graciously acknowledging their efforts is only fair.

Readers are Editors, Too

It’s also about taking our reader’s comments into account. Sure, we’d all like to get glowing, kind words in each comment, but that’s not realistic. Therefore, we need to be just as attentive when we read a critique.

Scott Biddulph and I have known each other for over twenty-five years, but as editor-in-chief at Two Drops of Ink, he didn’t mince any words with me. He practically forbid me to use a semicolon until I’d study the exact uses for one. And if you think about it, aren’t our readers a type of editor, too? 

They can spot a typo, bad syntax, poor grammar, and redundant writing, and if we’re guilty of it, then we should appreciate them taking the time to call us out on it. When they do, the appropriate response is “Thank you for pointing that out.”

They also want to be visually stimulated when they read. It’s an integral part of the online reading experience. Using interesting images means that you’ll need to spend time finding relevant, but not always literal, representations of what you’re discussing in your post.

Granted, this post is about reading and writing, but must it always be the computer keyboard, coffee cup, and phone? Not if you’re taking the time to add visual value to the post.

Do you have a friend that’s a photographer? Approach them about link sharing and promote their photos.  You can also start taking photos or use several programs designed to make info graphs that will add visual interest as well as being informative.   

There are also free sites that allow for commercial use. I’ve used Pixabay for over six years and never fail to find an image that goes beyond boring, literal, or predictable. .

Why Do Readers Return? 

Readers return because they get something from the post or site. If there’s nothing in it for them, why should they continue to view you? I think it’s nice to ask our readers to come back, or if they are a writer, to submit a guest post. It’s about making it worth their time and effort to read, and in some cases, become a contributing writer.

In recovery support meetings we often tell people to “Keep Coming Back” in the hopes that they will hear something that changes their lives from active addiction to recovery.  However, if there aren’t consistent times for meetings, people willing to chair that meeting, and others to offer guidance and support, there’s no point in asking anyone to come back.

As writers, we want our readers to return.  But if they’re returning to a site that hasn’t updated their posts in weeks, doesn’t update links, and fails to respond to comments –  why should a reader be loyal when the writer isn’t demonstrating the same?

We need to let them know our posting times, or ask them to follow so they get an automatic update each time we post.If we tell our readers to expect new posts on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, that makes us accountable to the commitment, too. 

Nothing disappoints a reader more than looking forward to a new post, and instead, they get nothing.  It’s rather like a TV series; we’ll wait six months if we’re engaged in the story line, but if there are delays, the stars quit, or something happens, we’ll find our entertainment elsewhere.

Our readers are more sophisticated today, in the sense that they don’t have to settle for second rate, cut and paste, rehash, and poor quality posts. They expect and deserve good visuals and value added posts.  Yes, they are returning to read you, because they like your style or stories, but are you also expanding their knowledge with more than your opinions or input?

Increase the Reader’s Knowledge

Whether it’s an inbound link to a post that is on topic on your site, or an outbound link that broadens their knowledge, we have to provide links that add greater meaning to the post.  We should also review these links, and make sure they are still active when we update a post. Look at the metrics and see if the influence of the page is still relevant. When a site has high domain authority, it contributes to the overall value of your piece regardless of how old the post is. However, if you originally linked to a post you’ve taken down, or a site that is no longer live, your post can be negatively impacted with a bad inbound or outbound link.

Links only work if they are compatible with the intent of your post. 

For instance, I might find a funny source, such as Agent 54 , and insert a link back to his post, but humor might not be the overall theme of my post, so a link to him wouldn’t serve a purpose. It might confuse my readers, or diminish the intent of the post.

My examples in the previous paragraph also serve a purpose. It’s rather like “show them, don’t tell them”.  I’m sure many of you caught the illustration, but just to be sure, I’ll tell you why it’s a good reference:

  1. Promoting another writer
  2. Providing a link for the reader
  3. Adding value to the post
  4. Nurturing relationships 

Developing Relationships

Each of those four reasons creates interconnection with people or links, which generates exposure for all. However, online relationships also need nurturing. So I can reach out to Agent 54,  and let him know I gave him a mention. I can tag him in a social media share, or I can DM on Facebook, and ask that he comment. 

If you guest post, check back and comment.

I recently published a post on my other site, From Addict 2 Advocate,  and asked the writer to come and respond. Nothing. Nada. Zero. Zilch. If the information had not had merit, I would have pulled the post.

Another time,  a reader left an insightful comment. I liked their phrasing and reached out to them and asked them to contribute. They did and then vanished. The post got multiple comments, and I contacted the writer and asked them to respond. Nothing.

Finally, after two weeks, I got a response. The writer claimed that they didn’t know how to respond besides saying,  “Thank you for the kind words”, so they said nothing. Perhaps I’m just old-fashioned, but a sincere appreciation of a reader’s efforts is not too much to ask.

When you guest post, most sites have submission guidelines and will usually ask that you not only contribute a piece, but that you interact with the readers; this bears repeating – if the reader took the time to comment, be gracious enough to respond.

We’ve made the effort here at Two Drops to form a community, and communities interact. If we give readers a reason to return and interact, they will because:

  1. The article is useful and helps them.
  2. Readers know where the writer stands on the topic; we aren’t scared to be opinionated.
  3. We research our topics and provide value-added content.
  4. The visuals are interesting, relevant, and entertaining.
  5. We write authentically – we are consistent, dependable, and engaging.

Improving on any of those four reasons will help you attract the right readers.

Calling All Readers and Writers

Our community has room for you, as a reader or as a contributing writer.

As a reader, we appreciate your interest in our site. We hope that we’ve provided you with information that you can use to improve your writing. We want you to have entertaining moments and enjoyable experiences here, so we offer poems, humorous post and compelling memoirs as well.

As a writer, we will give you exposure at an award-winning site. We will promote your books, whether they are traditionally published or self-published. We’ll keep you informed of what is happening with literary agents.

All we ask in return is that you help us keep the relationship viable with comments, critiques, and sharing.

 

Two Drops of Ink: The Literary Home for Collaborative Writing

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35 comments

  1. Hi Marilyn,
    Another excellent read. Your posts are engaging and full of valuable knowledge. I am fairly new to blogging and one of the main problems I allowed to hold me back was not reaching out to people in the writing community. I am realizing more and more how important this is. And why wouldn’t we? The more support we give, the more support we get! I have found your posts to be very helpful and interesting. I’ll be looking forward to reading more of your writing.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi, Nick. Somehow missed your comment, but that doesn’t diminish the kind words now that I’ve found it. It is important to nurture other writers and create an environment where we all feel welcome, valued, and appreciated. You are. So, the invitation to do a guest post is still open – hope this response doesn’t take as long to reach you as yours to me. She smiles.

      Like

  2. Thank you for this information. I tend to focus on keeping up with my blog, as well as, reading and commenting on other blogs. I didn’t know what the expectations of a guest blogger were. I also didn’t understand how links would help others. I am a self taught blogger and this makes me realize that there is still so much I do not know about the way the blogging world works. I appreciate this opportunity for self-reflection.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, Ali. Thank you for commenting. The reality is that the world of blogging is ever-changing. One year, it’s ” only write what you know”, another year, it’s “make the posts short”, followed by the advice for the next year to “increase the length of the posts”. We’re all learning. But, responding to comments, encouraging other writers, and creating communities won’t change here at Two Drops of Ink. Thank goodness for some consistencies.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, Lydia. Thank you. What did you find informative – maybe there’s an in-depth post about that particular aspect.

      Like

  3. Wonderful blogging advice, dear Marilyn. When we post on our social media sites, we need to remember to be social back to those who engage with us there. I feel bad when I haven’t replied to a comment because I understand the effort the person put into leaving one. There are some awesome friends for us to meet when we take the time. (such as here in the “Two Drops of Ink” community).
    Blessings ~ Wendy

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, Wendy. You’re absolutely right. Simple equation, they comment, we respond. Engaging and knowing what our readers think and feel about a post is what helps us improve. Thanks for commenting.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you for this Marilyn – I always find your posts so full of a combination of encouragement and practical writing tips! I liked your suggestion to include links (I just need to find out how to make one 🙂 And I agree, readers comments should be responded to – it’s just common courtesy.
    I find everyone in this community from the editors to contributing writers very responsive and engaged! It’s truly a joy to be here!

    Like

  5. Given my background in statistical and business intelligence software I always pay attention to the statistics page, but it is only in the last few weeks that I have been recording them for longer term analysis, in part because I intend to write some articles about the subject. The source of your readership is a good thing to understand (recently analysed on GobbledeGoox.com) as is the best days to publish posts (something I am currently investigating for a new article).

    Having readers come back time and again is an important goal for every writer. It won’t happen the instant you start your blog because you have to build trust. In the first few weeks you will be lucky to have any readers at all. One significant milestone is when you get readers everyday for a whole month (even on those days you don’t post on social media). Community interaction is a good idea, it doesn’t happen on many sites, despite appeals by the writer for comments. I like the number of comments here, all giving an original view – the readers should be commended.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi, Peter. Thank you for adding to the content. I’ve no doubt that you like statistics. They certainly serve a purpose. It’s just not my favorite way of gauging whether a post was well-received or not. I do check the numbers, but prefer the interaction of commenting.

      Very often, the comment adds another aspect to the theme of the post, much like your comment did. I do look forward to reading your posts about statistics, best days, and sources. I know you’ll cover new ground.

      We are fortunate to have the type of reader who “gets us”. I think I’ve been invitational since I started writing, letting readers know that I valued comments as they helped me improve. And even if the reader didn’t help me improve, they gave me the incentive to keep studying, and trying to give them what they wanted.

      Again, thanks for your comment.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. As always, very well written and full of wisdom. Reading this challenges my thinking of ways to add value. I agree with responding to readers comments. They were kind enough to offer a compliment. The least one can do is say thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, John. Thank you. What particular idea challenged you, John? Comments help a me understand how a portion of the topic might have enough reader interest to develop into a separate post. Readers do help us with our topics more than they know perhaps.

      Besides the compliments, or critiques, when readers let me know what interested them, or what they learned, it’s a big help in framing the next post.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you Marilyn for asking me to be more specific. What challenged me the most is how do I create the most interesting, informative, and value added post. I understand I need to add value by helping with or solving a problem. I struggle with not knowing how to create that content, yet.

        Like

        • Hi, John. I think you’ve already answered your own question. You’ve listed your personal challenge as, ‘how do I create content’. Isn’t this the problem? Then the solution would be to sit at the computer and write – we know you can. Not being flip – but think about what you want to learn about writing, and then research – this will broaden your knowledge, and gathering links that support your post adds value.

          Look at your sources, don’t just take the first that’s offered. While ranked well, those posts are sometimes just laced with clichéd advice. For instance, we can all quote a famous author and there’s ‘product recognition’ in their name. But they may not have said it the best – it could be this year’s newest author who speaks to me.

          After you gather your sources, figure out a theme, a few key points, and then, well, write, revise, edit, submit.

          Build on your desire to write using the best words you can to convey a how-to, John, and you’ll do okay.

          Hope this helps. Let me know. Thanks.

          Liked by 1 person

  7. I agree with you Marilyn. I try to nurture relationships and acknowledge comments, particularly as they are so hard to come by. My blog stats are very humble and although I desire growth, I worry about how to keep up with it all.
    Thank you for the excellent tips.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Don’t worry! If you impact even one person’s life, it’s worth it 🙂

      I went over to your blog and left you a comment. You have some very encouraging posts!

      Liked by 2 people

      • Thank you Caitlin. I’ve seen and responded. Thanks for your feedback, which is appreciated. Yes, if my posts make an impact on one person’s life, even if that one person is me, then it’s worth the effort!

        Liked by 2 people

    • Hi, Ladycee. You do nurture, through your poetry and at your blog. I appreciate your participation on Two Drops and I need to visit you more as well.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Hello Marilyn, thank you. Your response has brought tears to my eyes. Thank you. And likewise I appreciate the way you editors and contributors at Two Drops interact with your readers and commenters. It does give a feeling of family and belonging. I don’t know how you guys do it all, along with your own blogs, writing projects, social media and life. I find I cannot manage to find a balance and I’d be interested in reading how you all accomplish this.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, Ladycee. Keeping up with it all is hard. I think it’s like anything else in life though, we’ll put time, energy, and effort into what is important, and responding to comments is important to me. Some days, I have other pressing things to do, like all of us, so it might be a day or two until I get back, however, I will get back to them.

      You do nurture – in your writing, poetry, and kind words, Ladycee. I appreciate all of them.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Hi, Caitlin. I know your guest post will be well received as your tone is so positive and upbeat. Those qualities also come through in your comments, which I appreciate. We all need encouragement and you give it abundantly.

    Again, thanks for commenting and look forward to reading your post.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Thank you for this! I reply to every comment & question a reader sends me, whether on Facebook, or DM, or my blog. I completely agree with you… With so many different blogs and resources out there, a reader has options. If they choose to comment on your post, and especially if they comment faithfully, they deserve to be acknowledged.

    This also reminded me to finish my guest post for Two Drops 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    • Caitlin, I don’t reply to everything, merely the substantive comments. I rarely say anything to those I call applause – the people who simply say “Well done”.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hi, Peter. We’ve had this talk. I think most of us just scratch our heads and wonder why the reader didn’t elaborate. The “well-done” could have been an image for all I know. Although, I’m finding that if I take the time to say, “What part was well-done”, many readers will take their time and let me know more about what made it interesting, a good job, great writing, and all the complimentary things that, unfortunately, don’t let me know what parts of the writing they are referencing.

        I think it’s also helped to engage readers more here at Two Drops of Ink. Reinforcing my belief that we can create community involvement in our posts and reader comments.

        Liked by 1 person

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