This is a guest post by Mark Dykeman.
Pay attention please, students: we’re going to review some things today that you already know. Or that you should already know. At the same time, it’s going to be new for some of you. Or not.
And that’s the classic content problem, isn’t it? Especially on a blog.
How do you handle the fact that most successful blogs get far more new visitors than return visitors? Do you try to be completely new user friendly? Do you assume that your visitors already have a starting point and they know the lingo, the subject matter and the people that you talk about?
Number of new visitors
Here’s a little case study for you to consider:
I have two main blogs. The older blog, which is close to three years old, gets over 70% of its traffic from search engines. Between search engines and other sources of traffic, over 91% of that blog’s daily traffic is composed of new visitors. The newer blog, which is four months old as I write this, only gets about 7% of its traffic from search engines. However, over 58% of the blog’s traffic comes from new visitors and I expect that percentage to increase over time as I continue to build that blog’s traffic and audience.
I’ve read that on average 80% of a blog’s traffic comes from new visitors. I can believe that based on my own experience. Assuming this is true, that percentage is a strong motivation for a blogger to focus on new visitors and try to convert them into regular readers, maybe even paying customers.
Put another way, it’s like operating a museum and spending a lot of time of tours and education. Imagine the Louvre in Paris, one of the most famous museums in the world. I’ve been there: it’s huge! You need maps, guides and lots of signs to find your way around the place. There are rooms upon rooms, exhibits galore and tons of things to see and do. And many of the visitors will be there for the first time.
Here’s the other thing: parts of the Louvre change. Sure, the Mona Lisa is a more or less permanent fixture there, but many other exhibits come and go. New paintings arrive, new sculptures appear and things get moved around.
So what does a museum do manage this change for both new and repeat visitors? They make good use of the following:
- Web pages (including blogs) – so you can be found on the Internet
- Maps – so you can actually find something once you get to the museum
- Tour guides – sometimes the personal touch is tres important
- Deals for new or returning visitors – a little bit of honey never hurts
And they do these things even though they know that they have some unique artifacts that people literally travel around the world to see. (Although a lot of people still aren’t convinced that the glass pyramid in the middle of the Louvre is one of those can’t-miss attractions, if you know what I mean…)
We tend to think of museums as musty, creaky and stagnant old places, but any good museum doesn’t work that way at all. They change, rearrange and market themselves to stay fresh and relevant.
Your blog or website will have some of the same basic features of a museum.
- Static parts (static pages)
- Changing parts (blog entries)
- Maps (sitemaps, which have really been replaced by headers, categories, sidebars and widgets)
Your blog may be famous for some pillar content, for your eBook or some other feature. You probably have regulars and a good vibe going. That’s all cool.
But for heaven’s sake, give your first time visitors some directions. Help them get caught up. Make your special features easy to find.
Every new visitor is a potential regular visitor.
Mark Dykeman (@markdykeman) is the founder and main brain of Thoughtwrestling. He is an IT professional who has been blogging since 2007. He is the author of the award-winning blog Broadcasting Brain. His work has appeared in numerous blogs, including Mashable, Lateral Action, Problogger and Copyblogger.