The very survival of any blog lies in the hands of its readership. No readership, no blog; I am sure we can all agree on that.
There are numerous ways you can cultivate an active community around your blog that goes way beyond simple traffic generation.
After all, who wants the kind of traffic that comes and leaves to never come back, right?
Our ultimate goal should always be to make sure that our blog is sticky enough to turn the first-time visitors into fans and loyal readers and that’s what I’d like to talk about today – how to get them to stay, read our fabulous content, and share it with others.
I get asked on a daily basis what all those fabulous social engagement plugins I use on Traffic Generation Cafe are.
All the plugins we will be talking about today have been designed with one goal in mind: to keep your readers interested and to get them to share your content within their social networks.
I suppose that’s two goals then…
Let’s dive in.
1. COMMENTLUV PREMIUM
Plugin Description: Adds CommentLuv links to comments, protects you from spam, encourages Twitter followers, adds keywords to names and increases traffic and community.
Not only does CommentLuv encourage your readers to interact within your blog, it also has several ways for you to promote YOURSELF and YOUR blog when commenting on other CommentLuv enabled blogs.
This plugin is my first pick for reader engagement, traffic generation, and link building hands down.
Side note: I am currently holding a CommentLuv Premium Giveaway on my blog; just click on the CommentLuv Premium link above to learn more.
2. COMMENT REDIRECT BY YOAST
Plugin Description: Redirect commentators who just made their first comment to a page of your choice. On this page, you could ask them to subscribe, like you on Facebook and lots more.
How I use it: I created a Thank You page for all my first time commentators, where I help them navigate my blog a bit, offer suggestions for great content on Traffic Generation Cafe, and yes, provide a way for them to subscribe to my list should they choose to.
You can take a look at my page here: http://www.trafficgenerationcafe.com/thank-you-for-commenting/
It’ll give you an idea of what you can say, but I dare you to make yours even better – don’t just copy what I said please!
3. CONTACT FORM 7
You should ALWAYS have a contact page on your blog!
Nothing can be more frustrating than jumping through hoops and loops trying to contact the blog owner; sure way to loose some readers.
My contact page is simple – it lists some frequently asked questions, like guest posting for Traffic Generation Cafe, requests for product reviews, consultations, etc. and then provides the form to contact me if the reader’s question hasn’t been answered above.
No, I don’t get much spam through the form and don’t see any need for captcha, etc. – I find them annoying, as do you, I am sure.
Plugin description: Send an email to the comment author automatically when someone replies to their comment.
It definitely adds the kind of personal touch your readers might be craving. It’s always great to learn that our comments are read and responded to, and that’s exactly what this plugin will help you with.
The plugin is very versatile and can be customized however you’d like to.
Mine looks like this – this is what my commentators get in their email when I answer their comment:
See that yellow field where I invite my commentators to join my list? This great tip on how to build an email list came from Wayne Lambert from TheProfitShare.com – check out this great promote myself online page on his blog.
If you need some guidance on how to optimize the plugin for your blog, take a look at this DragonBlogger.com post.
One note on Justin’s post: at the very end Justin mentions that it might not be such a great idea to provide a link back to your blog for the commentator to see the response as opposed to simply showing them the response in the email itself. I personally find those links annoying and never click on them.
Plugin Description: Adds a dynamic bar with sharing icons (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) that changes based on browser size and page location – usually, this is what you’d see to the left or right of a blog post no matter how far up or down the page you are.
What I like about this particular plugin is that it can be customized with different colors and it’s obvious, yet understated.
Tip on that: don’t use too many icons. The more you use, the less likely your readers are to do anything. Stick to the ones you actually get a good response for.
6. TWITTER @ ANYWHERE
This is another popular question – which plugin creates that great Twitter box at the end of my posts?
Easy to customize and I get very high response rate with it.
7. TWEET OLD POST
Plugin Description: Tweet Old Posts randomly picks your older post based on the interval specified by you. The primary function of this plugin is to promote older blog posts by tweeting about them and getting more traffic.
It’s entirely automated and hands-free and gives you an opportunity to bring more social media traffic to the post that otherwise might be simply buried in your archives.
And there you have it – my top 7 picks to build a stronger community around your blog.
I’ve tried a lot of other plugins in the past, as you can imagine, but these are the ones that I’ve stuck with so far – they are tested and true and get the job done.
Word of caution: there is a great number of plugins available out there and the number seems to be growing by the day. There’s a good rule of thumb when it comes down to adding plugins to your blog: the less, the better.
Too many plugins can become more of a distraction to your readers, plus they can significantly slow down your blog loading speed.
If you are curious to see what other plugins I use on my blog, take a look at my internet marketing tools page – you’ll find a list of must-have plugins and nothing beyond that there.
Are there some incredible plugins I am missing out on?
Let me know in the comments!