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Using Email Subscriptions to Boost Readership

Among all metrics for measuring the reach and authority of a blog, traffic is often the most sought-after. The higher traffic you have, the more readers. When you’re monetizing your site, this translates to higher impressions, and therefore better income. If you’re not after dollars, but rather eyeballs, traffic is still a good indication of how widely distributed your blog is.

However, traffic is not all that matters when it comes to readership. Truth be told, a handful of blog readers are probably too lazy to keep track of all their favorite blogs all the time. Even those who use RSS readers might have dozens and dozens of feeds to sift through. A good number would probably prefer just to receive their daily dose of your blog right in their email inboxes.

The advantage of adding email subscriptions to your usual RSS feed link mostly involves added ease of access to potential visitors. Rather than fumble with copying and pasting the feed URL to their feed reader, they just key in their email address, hit enter,” and expect to be alerted every day of new items.

Some services even go to the extent of copying the body of each post content into the body of the email. At first, you might feel that readership from emails might be eating into your page views. To the contrary, though, most people who want to check out discussions will click on the item and read the blog post from your site itself.

How to set up email subscriptions

The simplest way to set up email subscriptions on your blog is to run your feeds through Feedburner. Once you’ve set up Feedburner to “burn” your site’s feed, you can activate the Email notification service under the Publicize tab.

Can I monetize email subscriptions?

The main problem with email is that, unlike the web, you’re not always sure how your readers will be reading your content. Will it be in HTML? Will it be plain text? Will it be on the desktop computer, or a mobile device? It’s always best to assume that readers will be reading your post in as minimal a format possible, which means text.

This also means that monetizing content transmitted through email might be more difficult. You can monetize RSS feeds through AdSense or banner ads. With email, monetization will usually includes affiliate links and sponsored reviews. If your blog is popular enough, then you can run a newsletter for paid subscribers only, in conjunction with using email as a notification service. You can use software and services like Feedblitz and AWeber for this purpose.

In conclusion, adding email functionality to your blog would help drive traffic to your site. The main benefit, though, is that it gives users an easy way to access your blog without much effort.

Optimization Tip: Write Relevant Headlines

Most of the time, when you think of optimizing your blog for search engines, you think of inbound links, writing linkbait material, commenting on other blogs, and submitting your blog to directories such as EatonWeb. But oftentimes, we forget the number one way you can get your blog to rank well in search queries. Simply write relevant headlines. Copyblogger has a few great tips here.

Many times, I find myself tempted to write headlines with a twist, or funny ones that are meant to be an insider joke (meaning only a few people would understand it). If you run a blog intended for such a purpose, then by all means, go for it. For instance, you might run a literary blog, and you are fond of writing poetry. In many cases, the titles of your posts can be simply one word. It can be as far out as just a single exclamation point.

However, when you run your blog with the intent of providing useful information, or as a source for news, reviews and editorials, it makes sense to use relevant headlines. In this case, you need to include relevant keywords in the title itself. Including relevant keywords in the title can both help your blog become more visible in search engines, and it will also make your post more attractive to human readers, such as those coming from feed readers. After all, at first glance, it’s the title of their post that they encounter, and so people will often judge the content based on the headline.

Let me ask you this: when you do a Google search for a certain topic, do you necessarily click on the first result in the list? Or do you click the title that seems most appropriate to your query?

I must admit that in doing reviews for submissions here on EatonWeb, I often scan through post titles, both current and archived, before reading through posts. This lets me get a feel of what a blog is all about, even before I read through entries. It helps me gauge the relevance of a blog at first glance.

Write a better blog. Start with great headlines.

Perspectives on Linkbaiting

Social media marketing guru Ryan Caldwell recently wrote about the pyschology of linkbait on SEJ. The article itself screams of linkbait. It’s got those classic linkbait cues, indeed. I, myself, have tried to steer clear of these types of posts, but who could resist, especially if one might gain to benefit from a few good ideas.

I would agree that the best types of links are the natural ones–called “editorial” links. These don’t seem forced, because the writers themselves wholeheartedly link to your content because they like it. But it’s sometimes difficult to determine what kind of content people would actually like and link to on their own.

Ryan has defined these under two categories. First, you can evoke reactive emotions–write something that you know people will feel strongly about, whether positively or negatively. Secondly, you can appeal to reason–make yourself appear as the expert so people would listen.

Folks might think that linkbait articles are essentially those list-type articles that are fun or make for good reference. But remember, next time you try to come up with content that you feel should be link-worthy, make sure that it does appeal to the senses and to emotions. This way, people have a reason of linking to your site.

Are You Posting Regularly Enough?

According to a recent Blog Herald post, frequent publishing is one of the most recognizable traits of a popular blog. And it’s a sensible tip–publish frequently so that your site stays fresh enough for both human readers and search engines to keep coming back to.

Is there such a thing as too-frequent posting, though? I would say that for blogs, there is only such a thing if you consider the front-page life-span of a post. While many users are already comfortable with reading content on their RSS feed readers, most are still accessing your site via the front page. This means they type in the URL on their browsers, hit enter, and land on your site’s main page.

So in that regard, it does pay to keep the important stuff at the front page, at least long enough for people to read it. If your front page displays five posts at a time, and you publish twenty posts in a span of one hour, then chances are those 15 other posts pushed to 2nd, 3rd and 4th page status don’t get as much exposure as the last five ones.

Some bloggers like to delineate between regular and important posts. So how do you keep important posts on the front page? One trick here is to re-design your site such that posts tagged as “features” become “sticky” ones, meaning they stay on the front page even when they’re already overridden by newer posts in terms of freshness.

Still, experienced bloggers would recommend a posting frequency of one to three times a day. That’s frequent enough to be considered fresh, but not too frequent that people are not overwhelmed by the postings. At least this goes for one-blogger blogs.

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