This is a guest post by Kristina Chang, Evan Moore, Tony Xu, and Omer Rabin; students at the Stanford Graduate School of Business.
“What makes a blog popular? What drives page views?” These are the questions that we’ve been trying to answer over the last few weeks. We were on a mission to dig into the data and analyze the strongest parameters that influence the flow of visitors to WordPress.com blogs.
Out of the 30+ million blogs on WordPress.com, we randomly selected a sample of almost 100,000 blogs to perform a regression analysis. Here are our findings, together with a few recommendations. We hope that this provides some new information, and kudos to you in case you’ve already incorporated these tips into your blog – the data suggests that you’re on the right track. Keep it up!
Make your blog easy to follow – It almost sounds obvious, but the simplest way to build more awareness is to make it easier to do so. Make sure that you have the follow widget as visible as possible. If your readers receive a notification every time you post, or see your post in their reader, there is a much higher chance that they will revisit your blog.
Comments, Comments, Comments – The most successful blogs, we found, created and encouraged a dialogue with their readers. The best way to make people more engaged with your writing is for you to engage back and start a conversation. In your posts, encourage people to comment. Also, make sure that you reply to people’s comments and continue the dialogue. This back and forth conversation is a significant driver of page views; holding all else equal, every additional comment can potentially drive up to 18 incremental page views! You can start by simply asking follow-up questions at the end of each post: “have you ever done X?”; “do you think Y is acceptable?”. You can read some more thoughts on how to build your audience and how to get more comments.
Post Frequently and Regularly – Your readers want to know that you are there for them and that you are “on it”. If you post frequently and regularly and have enabled the follow feature as we mentioned above, checking your blog could become a daily routine for your readers. Even if it’s a short post, write something new as frequently as possible, and at regular intervals. (The Daily Post can help with ideas, as can the advice on how to get more traffic)
While these three tips were shown to be the most important drivers of page views in our analysis, you might consider other parameters, which we found as having a partially significant effect: syndicating your post to Twitter and Facebook (using Publicize), for example, could lead to additional page views.
- Apr 17, 2012 @ 4:16 pm
Thanks for the tips. I have also found (which i have read by you guys as a suggestion already) is to separate paragraphs. It really does make it a whole lot more reader friendly to actually consume the content. I have actually found myself opening a blog to close it after seeing the long lengthy-ness of their article with no breaks. A line of break can really make a writing a lot more consumable. Thanks for all the new tips. Us bloggers need all the help we can get to be able to find our audience! I have also looked at a lot of other blog hosting sites and WordPress is by far the most user friendly. Really a well put together vehicle to allow any blogger, new or old hat to start blogging. I feel like blogs are the one trusted place i can come to get real information because thus far, they have not been sold out into well written product endorsements and manipulated media! Thanks WordPress! You are the greatest!
Thanks for the tips, Pete! This is a good “top 3″ list. Did any other factors emerge from regression analysis?
Reblogged this on Man in the Stands and commented:
Great advice! I obviously need to follow rule three more closely and I assume that leads to the second!
I’ve found that actively engaging with other blogs is a good way to entice people to visit yours. For example, I check out the blog of anybody who follows me, likes one of my posts and vice versa. If you’ve taken the time to engage with their content, it’s quite possible that they’ll return the favor.
I definitely agree that encouraging dialogue is key; plus, as a side benefit, these “healthy” comment conversations typically reveal what my readers are hungry to read more of, which becomes the basis of future blog posts…a total win-win!
Great ideas here. Thank you!
Thanks for the tips, I need to work on people commenting on my blog. I think I have 5 comments total and I’ve been blogging for a year now! (What do you think random reader, should I work on my comments? if so, leave a comment on my blog! :-)
Thank you for this. It is good stuff, simply and plainly laid out and coming from Stanford Graduate School of Business gives it instant credibility. Again, great tips. Grateful here.
Good tips, although I think that posting daily (especially more than once a day) can be off-putting to readers, too.
So many good blogs, so little time to read them. When I check my rss feed (every couple of days or so), I usually leave for later reading the blogs that already have several new posts. Then I take my sweet time enjoying the other blogs. Sometimes, by the time I get to the post-a-day blogs, they’ve added even MORE posts, so I just click ‘Mark all as read’ and go to sleep. :D
Good, simple tips to help ensure blogging success! Thanks, guys!
I’ve found writing a series of posts helps too. If readers enjoy part 1 today, they’re likely to come back for part 2 tomorrow. Also, a really identifiable voice helps too. The blogs I read compulsively are the ones with a consistent voice – often they’re not even ones I think are that high quality, but something draws me back when I think I’m getting to know a person. Did you do any analysis about what kind of blogs get the most hits? eg lifetsyle, music, political auto?
Thanks for the research. I had been fearful that photos and especially videos would become a dominant trend, pushing words and sentences out of the blogosphere. I’m relieved to know that’s not the case.
Thanks for the tips. I am writing for fun/therapy….. somedays it seems i have many views/comments..other days, it is like my blog is invisible. I am trying to let go of any expecation… and just flow. :)
Great advice, as always! Thanks for the tips! My blog is growing slowly, but still growing nonetheless.
This is a good and helpful post. One thing that is not addressed is the difference between posts and the comments beneath posts.
For example, I post few articles because my time is limited. But I use comments as a way to update each article and keep them current. People reply to my comments; and in the final analysis, the comments become as important as the articles themselves. Together, they constitute a good discussion of the subject matter.
I doubt, however, that followers and others get notice of new comments. Am I wrong?
Thanks so much as always. “30+ million blogs on WordPress.com” is a lot of blogs, and very impressive! :-)
Great tips! I wish I could post a blog more often, but being an author, most of my time goes into writing my books and promotional efforts. I’d like to be two or three people to keep up with everything.
Reblogged this on Manuscritos Digitais.
Interaction is great. My blog is cartoons and commenters are playing off the gag and people are reading the comments because they are as funny as the post if not better. One upmanship grows as people try to out comment other commenters with more outrageous funny. I am the one that is getting entertained. Some come to see comments of regulars rather than my post !Traffic increasing by word of mouth. I mean by word of comment. When I started 20 months ago I never imagined how busy the blog would keep me.
WP’s new interactive notification feature makes conversation easy! What you found is so true.
I am following about 100 people, so if they blog every day that may be too much for me to subscribe to. Personally, I can keep up with bloggers that post 3-4 times per week because I want to actually read and comment on them.
Thanks Pete for sharing these useful tips. Whilst they do play a major role in upping page views I’ve also had what I call ‘one-off surges’ in my page views for the following reasons:
– Blogging about a hot and recent topic; either a topic trending on social networks or fresh off the press/breaking news
– Using relevant tags strategically so that your article comes up in Google searches (I prefer Tags to Categories)
– Writing at least one sensitive/embarrassing topic about yourself (readers can be a bit nosy but won’t admit it, lol)
Hope these help and I’ll be happy to learn any other useful tips you all have to share :)
My blog is al about Facts so it’s hard to engage in a conversation with the viewers as they view the whole post from the homepage, yet this post helped alot! Thanks!!
I have followed those ideas since day 1 and I can attest they really do work. I have built a much larger following in such a short period of time that it blows my mind. I’ve also found that the judicious use of guest bloggers brings their audience to you and you have a chance to keep them.
Thanks for the great advice. I also find, as a reader, that I shy away from posts that at first glance appear to be lengthy. I try to limit my posts to 500 words and always include a graphic, a quote or something else to visually breakup the post on the page.
Thank you for the great information! Blogging for me is a release and have discovered that I write poetry because of this blog. Never knew. Started my blog to showcase my art and photos but there are a million of them so decided to write whatever came to mind at that instance. Viola my blog!
Like I said it is a release and if people like what I write, paint and photograph – Bonus. It is work but with the help of articles like this I’m sure I will prosper.
I must agree with tita buds who said earlier… daily blogs are ignored…. but every week or fortnight is good i feel. I have no way to tell why but my latest blog hit an all time high. I dont know if it was the content or the fact it is blog number 15 but i think it had a lot more to do with tagging. Maybe I will never know!
These are great basic suggestions that surely we can allow follow. Another thing that I have found to be successful is making my blog a bit more dimensional. I am a cancer nutritionist and blog on healthy recipes so weave the nutrition stuff in with the pre-recipe preamble. But I have also recently added a music track – current or otherwise – that seems to fit with the vibe of the current post, as well as a sidebar ‘juice of the week’ recipe. Sounds a bit corny but I think my traffic has increased as it has become a regular thing for my posts. Loving all the comments and additional pointers here, esp Kate Ferguson’s suggestion re a series so folk hang on for the next post.
Interesting article. The tips are useful and I will try to use them.
These are great suggestions because they are practical, even if obvious, or simple. They’ll go a long way. Thanks!
As a newer blogger these tips look really helpful and make sense to me. I have been a blog follower for some time though and I wonder about tip #3. As a follower I don’t want to be inundated with posts as I get too many e-mails per day as it is. Striking a happy medium is not always easy. How often to blog is a question I ask myself. How long should the posts be, too? Some topics require more depth so I’ve decided a series is probably the way to go. What day of the week is best to post too? Just some thoughts…
a rule I didn’t find in this blog is using keywords example:
in latin america is getting very popular the term “Memes” so i create an entry where i talk about it and share some links to other memes pages.
from an average of 250 visits per day now i got an average of 1,200 visits per day. .
Your tips were helpful. I’ve been implementing them. Although at times, I forget to ask questions at the end of a post.
But I’ll start doing that.
I only blog once a week, but at least I’m consistent.
And to all the others who provided added tips to this post, thanks.
I don’t have this problem now (but it will be a good problem to have), but will people really expect you to reply to every comment if you’re getting 80-100 plus comments per day?
I feel like I’ve been doing all those things but my traffic is still relatively low.
Thanks for the tips. I have just recently started my blog and seems like I haven’t been really encouraging anyone to comment. It seems like a good idea to always end with a question so readers can comment and the whole follow-up conversation. Cheers!
Thanks for this guys! You can’t argue with regression analysis!
In Statistics we trust.
Reblogged this on Brad W. Merrill and commented:
Everyone’s demographic is a bit different, but these ideas should work for most if not all. If you have a blog, what have you seen that seems to help?
I am not so sure daily blogs are ignored. I follow several that post at least five times a week. One that is more of a “commercial” blog that has multiple posts per day seven days a week. (lifehacker.com part of the Gawker group of sites) I may or may not look at it every day, but 3-5 days a week anyway. Just to see what is new and is there anything that looks interesting. Sometimes multiple times a day. One that I follow that is 5 days a week is a career oriented blog. I get an email and check it out. But I am not following really closely a huge number of blogs either.
Reblogged this on ariannablack.
Reblogged this on Marsha Lee and commented:
I am new at blogging. Writing the blog is the easy part, and that takes hours if you are adding pictures. I read this article several times, followed the directions, followed links, did more stuff, then checked my stats. My friends email me, respond on Facebook, or tell me in person. This is an exciting adventure.
Thanks for the tips, as a new blogger I can use all the tips. Thought perhaps my posts were too long, seems not. My posts are likely to stay long, sometimes it takes time to collect all the data and pictures, so won’t be posting every day. But series sounds about right.
Great post, Kristin. Off to move my Follow widget. For some reason, it wound up at the very bottom of the page.
Reblogged this on SPRY.ARDENT.MULISH.
Might you suggest a tactful and sensitive way to reply to a commenter who may be “over commenting?” I try to respond to all comments, but this reader seems enthusiastic to the point that I fear he may believe the space should become our personal conversation. I don’t want to turn off other readers, but his length and frequency may be doing just that. I’d be grateful for some advice!
Thanks for the tips! I need to work on blogging more. I have a ton of ideas but never realized how long it takes me to get everything together, all the while chasing my toddler around. Hoping to set goals down on paper and making deadlines will help the process.
The traffic to my blog has significantly increased since I started participating in Weekly Photo Challenge last week! I do blogwalking as well. :)
Thanks for the tips! :)
Thanks for the tips. As a new blogger I’m looking for ways to drive more traffic and hold onto the readers who follow. I’ve found that one cool way to get a conversation going is to post a question at the end of the blog. I only post twice a week and try to do it on days I feel my target market will be likely to take the time to really read through, rather than skim, and then get involved with comments or further questions on the subject. Keep the great tips coming.
Good tips! I have been applying some of these myself. I even started a lengthy conversation about an article on my blog with a friend with him asking questions, we both hoping to see others come into it, give their opinion, come up with their own questions – but that seems rather hard to realize in the corner of mostly photos with a short article and an occasional article about photography experiences. Trying to balance two time consuming activities, I must say that I am not always very regular with posting which cannot be helped at the moment. Another problem is that I write in English and in Dutch and haven’t come up with an acceptable way of translating the comments (mostly in Dutch) as wel…
But working on it :-) (and no – no Google translations for me!)
Thanks for the post :-)
Always helpful information. Thank you for the recommendations. I’ve found customizing my “comment” button to say something like “What do you think?” or “Share something travel.”
Reblogged this on dribbledstories and commented:
Good information here.
Reblogged this on Dursodesignblog’s Weblog.
I follow all of these, and it seems like hits have been growing consistently — until this month, at least, when it appears like hits and engagement have plateaued. Are there any tips for driving your site past this plateau point? I know most, if not all blogs go through it, and was just curious if there were some universal tips that worked for folks.
In my view it is essential that one has a clear idea of what to blog, on a long term basis. This will ensure that there is consistency, continuity and clarity in the blog posts.
In my WordPress blog which I started on 1st Jan 2010, I kept a target of writing a daily blog giving a commentary on the Quote of the Day and practical tips to make the contents useful to the reader. I managed to write around 400-500 words per blog post and by year end 31st Dec 2010 had around 330 posts. This ensured that I had sufficient content to enthuse a reader to subscribe and follow my blog. In 2011, I drastically cut down my writing to average about 5 posts a month. I now have over 1,00,000 views and 670 followers
I also wrote a weekly blog creating my own Acronyms and a 400 word write up with Action Points to make the content practical and useful to the reader. This blog though has substantially lesser views and followers. Nevertheless the views and the subscribers are slowly but steadily rising.
In addition to what the researchers have mentioned, I have proactively also shared the blog links in certain websites where I answer queries relating to HR, Self Development and Personal growth. This has been a key driver in enhancing the readership and subscriber base of the blogs.
Hope my sharing will help other bloggers to be enthused and keep blogging with greater focus and success.
Great research, and thanks for sharing the results. I post weekly on my blog, and I think more than that would overwhelm my readers.
I’m definitely one of those bloggers who struggles with getting comments from my readers. My blog is a ‘news’ style blog with smaller, more frequent posts, rather than an opinion piece. I find it difficult to encourage comments on these sorts of posts.
April 17th, 2012 at 4:58 pm
“Those were the big ones. There were a few things that turned out not to be big factors: the number of users on a blog, the length of a post, and the number of images/videos all had little effect, or weren’t significant.”
At first I found it very surprising that the amount of visual content in posts doesn’t make a difference. Now that I’ve thought about it for a while, I myself follow both photo blogs and blogs with no images attached whatsoever. I guess one important aspect of all this is that whatever the content, it should be original – at least I appear to follow blogs to read or see something I can’t elsewhere.
Thanks for making me think a bit.
Thanks for these suggestions. I don’t blog every day, but I believe a couple of times a week is the best. I’m doing so many things with social media these days that I find my writing time is limited. However, the blog forces me to write and after all, that’s what we’re really supposed to be doing. I also find I like the blogs I follow to do a blog more than once a week, but daily is a little bit of overkill.
I’ve kept the notice of the blog in my inbox waiting until I could make the time to read it. I’m glad I did. Thanks Pete and a special thanks to Kristina Chang, Evan Moore, Tony Xu, and Omer Rabin for the helpful hints.
Author – Amanda’s Room
Reblogged this on sandytacom.
Thanks for the advice! I’m still relatively new to the WordPress blogasphere and this post was very helpful to me! The only thing is, I don’t have a Twitter account–but will probably reluctantly create one eventually–and I don’t really want my facebook (and real life) friends reading my blog, to be honest. I like to use it more as a facet to express my feelings and opinions without the actual people in my life finding out about it. I just like the feeling of being able to connect with people that I haven’t met in person and have no intention of meeting face to face. There’s something very powerful and, admittedly, addictive about this kind of connection. I get a rush every time I get an email informing me that someone has read (and liked/commented on!) one of my posts :).
I do have one question though: are there any editing tips you have? For instance, did you notice whether a certain kind of grammar, writing and/or narrative voice was more effective than others (i.e. active voice vs. passive voice)?
As a daily blogger I’ve wrestled with the third point–I know I seldom follow blogs just because I don’t want to be buried in emails. I find other ways to keep up with the blogs I love. Is there any research on how many more visits leaving a comment with a link to a blog post drives? I normally don’t do that because it seems so pushy.
Seems like I am late here, but this is really timely and helpful. The comment suggestions regarding “length,” “day of week” and tag and widget use is worth the study for me. I’ve asked questions in blogs sometimes, but not regularly and not at the end always. The one blogger’s testimonial on these tips working him was good too. Thanks for all this.
I’ve found that by being active on some really active forums like 9to5forums.com and macrumors’ forums, and having your wordpress blog linked in your signature you get quite a bit of traffic too!
Other ways you can make your blog popular is by sharing your contents with friends. Try sharing with your local newpapers (I live in Nigeria; and I share my posts with The PUNCH newspaper), and when they read your post, it serves as a kind of “morale booster”. Also share your posts with Digg, Reddit and others; sometimes the more content you have floating around the internet, the better your chances of being spotted by search engine.
I’ve been doing what you suggest and my page views have significantly increased! Thanks! Nice post! :)
My blog is growing slowly and I do follow all of these tips. I’m wondering how many page views per day WordPress blogs receive on average? What should I be striving for for a successful blog?
I follow quite a few blogs but only handful on a daily basis. The key for me personally are the following: 1) they have connected to me. Feels like a relationship (via comments for sure on my blog and on theirs). 2) post cant be too long. I didn’t sign up to read a novel (exception might be an awesome story I can’t stop). Finally….3) entertaining or extremely educational. I love to laugh and learn. Good luck everyone! I know I’m addicted. :-D
You can get a lot more comments if WordPress didn’t make it so difficult to leave comments, demanding an email attached to a WordPress blog. If I’d wanted to make it hard for commentors to leave a comment, I would have chosen Blogger. Yes, I’m bitter. I lost a ton of readers.
Concise advice. In my experience, high quality writing is essential to maintain traffic and support revisits.
Other bloggers can tell the difference between rushed articles and those that have been crafted more carefully. Obviously, blogging is fairly quick-fire and that’s what makes it great, but a post with a plan and a bit of thought behind it makes a lot more impact.
Articles on my blog that are successful are ones composed with that smidgen of extra effort. It’s worth it.
Great info. It makes sense that even in the blog world, (as with real life) you get back what you put in. I’ve found it to be very true that the more you engage others, the more successful your blog will be. It’s all a matter of give what you need.
I have been blogging for over two years and try to get at least one post a day on http://www.freoview.wordpress.com. This has resulted in a steady stream of comments and blog participation and private emails about issues. Although my blog is about the City of Fremantle in Western Australia, I have followers from all over the world. It’s fun and has become a community hub and the most visted blog in our city.
Reblogged this on A Techie's Journey Through Life … and commented:
– be unique
– honor your reader base
So, do ideas factor in anywhere or is it all logistics? Cuz I’m pretty much relying on the former…
I think once you have the basics, as Pete points out, and that you have to work at to hone your skills, it comes down to exposure. Like getting Freshly Pressed, or Reblogged here.
And as you can see in the wider world, you don’t need an idea, or even a coherent thought – though it helps, to get exposure. :) What a world we have made.
Niches, like WP, are another matter – a more discerning crew.
Great article and gave me the positive boost. Thanks Pete
I’m new to blogging so I’ve made all the mistakes. I’m going to try and increase traffic using your method. Thanks for sharing. Cany anybody tell me if my blog is any good.
Great work! I have less interesting subject I blog about. My topic is about supporting less fortunate. Not many want to read or hear about that. It’s OK if i only have one person that cares then its worth the troubles of continue blogging.
Thanks for this!
My blog is al about afiro so it’s hard to engage in a conversation with the viewers as they view the whole post from the homepage, yet this post helped alot! Thanks!!
Most of my views come from Google and Google images so I gotta keep this up…, need to keep using them to get views => comments and follows
My blog gets 50+ page views without any post, and if i post it gets 100+, THANKS GOOGLE
thanks been looking up information
Thanks for these tips. I’ve been using most of them, and they are simple, but they will serve as a reminder.
Thanks for sharing the research results….I love blogging and am always happy to get new input!
Thanks alot Pete these will be of a great help to attracting visitors to my blog.
Thank you for sharing this information :)
I’m learning new things all the time!
Thanks for the tips :) – New user.
Reblogged this on All About Technology.
Hi Pete, thanks for the tips.
I would add also, allow multi-language translations and a small ad campaign on adwords or adcenter definitely helps while not very expensive.
Thank you for this useful information. I have been on a break from blogging when my husband made me delete my blog (for the reason that i need to “open up to him more”) and now im back and i think i have lost my mojo. LOL. Its back to square one for me.
I’m a beginner blogger, and still learning all the feautures and widgets, and all things blogging. Your post is much helpful, thanks!
Great Post! They are definitely some good ways to get views!
I got hundreds of view sumbiting my blog on Reddit.com I do recomend that you guys all do it.
I’ve started trying out some of the tips on here on my blog to see if I can get more viewers. My count is woefully low at present.
This was helpful. Intuitively we all know these things but sometimes fall short of doing them.
Thanks for the tips!
I am a newbie, thanks for this article!
Thanks so much for these tips!
Will def. start implementing :)