When visitors arrive on your business blog, you need to make sure that they can explore it in the way that suits them, at least as far as possible, so that they can get the most out of their visit. To do so, you have to try to preempt their requirements and their habits.
If we look to group visitors by the way that they are likely to want to explore your blog, then I think that they will fall into browsers, searchers and subscribers. To help them locate information and articles on your blog which will interest them, you should aim to cater for all of these groups and offer them methods to look through your blog which suits their requirements.
As the name indicates, browsers are generally not looking for something specific when they arrive at your blog. Instead, they are simply following links from other blogs (from an article or perhaps via a Blogroll) to see where it takes them and whether anything appears interesting or catches their eye.
Once on your blog, browsers will generally follow links – theyll move between posts by using links that you create so it’s sensible to reference your own posts where appropriate as well as other peoples.
As a result, they can be quite random in what they look at and also easily lost if their attention wavers, so ensure that there are always links in your posts which reference other posts with relevant information. You may also find that creating related posts after the post (either manually or automatically) will help to increase their continued browsing of your blog.
At the same time, they are open to being guided so point out posts which you consider to be most important (a Very best of page for example) or ones that others have recommended (such as “most commented” or “most viewed” posts) and get your best articles in front of them. Your goal here is of course to turn them into a subscriber so give yourself every chance.
At a more sophisticated level, it may be possible to track what they have been looking at and therefore offer tailored or personalised advice as to what else may interest them websites such as Amazon are great examples of this in action.
By contrast, searchers have clear aims in mind so are likely to be looking for a specific subject area when they arrive at your blog. They will be much more single minded in their approach when reading your blog, and so what they want are clear methods of locating the information that they are looking for as quickly as possible.
Probably the most conventional way to do this is through a search box which should ideally be easy to find and on every page of the blog. However, they will have keywords or key phrases already firmly in mind and therefore may well latch onto the category names or the tags associated with your posts to help explore specific topic areas.
Its still very important to offer searchers other links, particularly to related posts. This is partly because it may help them to locate the information they are searching for but, in any case, it will give similar or adjacent topics and so show the depth or your blog’s content. It should also encourage the searcher to delve deeper into your blog once they have found the specific information they are after ultimately to help them subscribe to your blog via RSS or via email.
It is probable that on your blog, the subscription is mainly run through RSS and so this is where we need to concentrate our efforts to encourage greater access to your content for those who are already subscribers.
One element of this is the selection of a full or partial RSS feed. With partial feeds, an excerpt is delivered to the subscribers reader and if they want to read the full post then they have to click through to your blog. Most people, however, prefer full feeds which means that articles can be read directly from the feed the downside of this is that they dont actually have to visit your blog to read its content. However, fear not. Its still possible to incorporate other links and offers in the feed itself to encourage them to explore further different medium but still very useful.
Never fall into the trap of thinking once you have subscribers you can forget about them just the opposite. You have done the hard work by encouraging them to subscribe but now it is up to you to maintain the quality and relevance of what you are writing so that they continue to return and read and also hopefully recommend your blog. (Remember the 5Rs!!) With RSS, it is both easy and immediate to unsubscribe from a feed so the onus is on us, as business bloggers, to maintain a standard which will keep their interest.
Whatever type of reader arrives at your blog – browser, searcher or subscriber – try to make sure that you cater to their online habits by ensuring that they can find your best information as easily as possible. With a good business blog design, the main elements should be in place but adding a little extra for each of the groups is always valuable. And hopefully, if they can find information which interests them, they will not only become subscribers but remain subscribers too!