This guest post is by Alden Hooper.
A blog’s success is in the eye of the beholder. An individual may blog as a form of expression while corporate bloggers do it for brand exposure, industry networking and customer relations. Professional bloggers and entrepreneurs see only a big $ sign hung around every visitor’s neck.
So, what a blogger expects from blog readers depends largely on the blogger’s motivation for starting the blog and keeping it updated. Technorati’s latest annual State of the Blogosphere survey speaks volumes about these differences.
The report says that only 13 percent of bloggers now consider revenue as the leading metric for success. The primary reason cited by an overwhelming 70 percent is that “they use their blog as a way to share expertise and experience with others.” The keyword here is sharing.
The one thing that all successful blogs have in common is an engaged community where blog readers become blog contributors. New visitors to a blog get this feeling that they are part of a conversation where their voice will be heard and responded to by others.
Bloggers need to encourage blog readers to post comments. A human connection is established between two strangers when a reader posts a comment and the blog author or another reader responds back. This motivates readers to come back and continue the conversation or post another comment on the latest blog post.
When a lot of readers start doing this, the conversation expands into a free for all where readers respond to each other and the blog author only has to step in occasionally. Apart from the satisfaction of being the host of such an engaged and active community, it’s also a very good magnet for more search traffic.
Every comment adds new content to the page, and search engines love pages that are constantly updated. Since most blogs have a “latest comments” widget in the sidebar, every new comment creates an incoming link from all other posts on the blog. As the comments keep piling up day after day, the blog post starts getting more search traffic which only adds to the number of readers and comments.
A single post like this can snowball for months with increasingly more comments and search traffic. If this level of engagement can be sustained for all new posts, the blog will be an unqualified success. Success in this case is all inclusive, with personal satisfaction, brand exposure, more unique visitors and more sales (if required). So yes, what every blogger needs most from blog readers is community engagement.