How many readers and how much you earn--content strategy makes a difference
ONLINE COLUMN: Web Savvy
Published: December 2, 2008
|Once we build a Web site or blog, the aftermath is like waiting for party guests. Will anyone come? If they do, what will we do once they arrive? Fact is there are a number of steps we writers can take to bring our guests to the URL and to get them to linger once they're there. It's the equivalent of getting the reader of a book to turn the page.|
We've often mentioned creating a plan before you build your site, and that's also the ticket to our reader-earnings destination once your site is live. Sketch your ideas on a piece of scrap paper; move them around. It's sort of like dummying up your copy and content specifics to get an idea of the whole production.
Via your statistics tracker or the comments readers leave, you should develop an idea of what subjects are hot items and what stories are your most successful. Once those move below the fold, there's no reason to abandon them. On my own blog, I use a section of the right-hand column titling it 'MOST POPULAR.' I use all caps on the font so the reader notices that section. Why? Because usually a reader will see something eye-catching in that list of my top stories. And that reader will stay longer, happily clicking around on my site and hopefully on my ads as well.
Another item is what I call 'impulse content.' I created a small area on the right column under the title 'U.S. History.' I pluck a quote from a figure in U.S. history that relates to top news stories of the day. Media has been lambasted lately, so I recently selected a quote about newspapers from Thomas Jefferson who coincidentally was not kind in his comments about the newspapers of his own day. It's easy to find those quotes. My favorite source is the U.S. Library of Congress. Other good sources are presidential libraries—all are online. Often you can even view an image of the original document where the text first appeared.
It almost goes without saying, but I can't refrain. You should have a blogroll or a sidebar listing blogs you like to read or blogs that relate to your own. Often you can exchange links with the owners of these Web sites. Every link you get—a backlink—can elevate your rank at various directories. If you want to have some fun, use iWeb's tool for checking backlinks to your site. It may surprise you to see that you've become part of a conversation in the blogosphere.
Another useful strategy is offering a search box. Most popular platforms enable you to set it up so visitors can search your Web site or the whole Web. I chose to have the results open in a new window—that way, the visitor has my Web page open at the same time. Some advise not to do this. I see it as a personal judgment call. Most blog and Web hosts have a search engine feature. Or you can simply choose one from the dozens available. Just enter the terms 'put a search engine on my Web site', select your favorite and the rest is as easy as copy and paste.
Using videos from Web sites like YouTube and photographs you have rights to will also extend your reader's experience.
Finally, most visitors are curious about the Web site owner or the column writer. I always include a small photo of myself at my primary blog, and a small 'about me' section. I do include a link to my professional freelance Web site and I have sold a number of projects because of that one little link.
What you place on your Web site is entirely up to you. What's important is giving visitors a good reason to find you and more good reasons to hang around when they do. Put yourself in your visitor's chair and ask what you'd like to read if you were a stranger to your site. If you're consistent with your posts and updates and you tell a good story, you should see your readership and your earnings increase by applying good content strategy.
DoshDosh offers great advice on content.
See who links to your content by using iwebtool's backlink checker.
Web site statistics—who visits and how do you bring them back (2-part article at Web Savvy.)
Use free domain content to boost your Web site (Web Savvy).
-Posted Dec. 2, 2008
Does getting your site syndicated and earning royalties sound like a dream? Join us next time for an interview with Larry Schwartz, president of Newstex, LLC, a top content syndicate on the Web.
Florida journalist Kay B. Day has won awards for poetry, nonfiction and fiction. The author of two books, she has written for The Christian Science Monitor, United Press International, The Florida Times-Union and Sky News. To read Kay's other Web Savvy columns about writing for the Web, click here.