An experienced author I know complained in a private forum discussion this week about his depressing website statistics. He asked, “Does anyone have any advice I can use to build my traffic?”
A fabulous guest post by Mitt Ray of Social Marketing Writing on JeffBullas.com has the answers my friend needs — and they’re answers you and I need, too.
“How to build a credible blog that people trust” is based on responses to Ray’s seven-question survey of business owners, marketers, and bloggers:
- What factors add credibility to a blog?
- How do you measure social presence or influence of a blog?
- Which social networks add most credibility to a blog?
- Do multiple or single authors add more credibility?
- What types of blog content add most credibility?
- What category of blog content is most credible?
- What factors destroy blog credibility?
What authors can learn from this
The survey results are fascinating. I encourage you to read the post so you get all of the helpful details, but I’ll summarize my take-aways for authors here.
You need a blog on your website. More than two-thirds of the respondents said blogs help build credibility. While the resulting authority is more important for nonfiction authors, it’s important for novelists, too, especially for brand building.
Your blog posts must be interesting and well-written. “Quality” ranked twice as important as the next factor, “good design,” in the survey results. This is even more important if you’re a writer. Each blog post is a preview of your book, even if it’s on an unrelated topic. Collectively, your posts tell potential book buyers whether or not you’re a good writer. Nobody wants to read a book that’s loaded with errors.
Social shares give your posts credibility, which, in turn, enhance your credibility. You must have a social sharing toolbar so that people can share links to your individual posts with others. And, according to survey results, the toolbar you use must show the number of shares. (Discover two good options in “3 tips for better author blogs.”)
Links to your content from Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, in that order, give your site more credibility than links from other sites. The logical conclusion, then, is that you want to build your social media presence with those three networks. I feel compelled to point out, though, that where you should put your effort depends on your target audience. If you write business books, you’ll do best with LinkedIn. If you write YA novels, you’ll want a strong presence on sites like Tumblr and Wattpad.
Articles are the most credible form of blog content. That’s easy enough for authors. You’re writers, after all. So keep on writing. If you want to add something to the mix, add e-books, white papers, guides, and reports. There’s obviously no reason for an author to not have a credible site considering how much people value written content.
Case studies are the most credible, followed by how-to articles. This is particularly helpful information for me because I tend to focus on how-to articles. My case studies are usually “how I did it” guest posts, but this research tells me that I have to include more of this, whether I write the case studies or they come from guest bloggers. You’ll want to keep this in mind, too, especially if you write nonfiction.
Bad content and bad design will hurt your credibility. So will “fake social media followers,” but how does anyone know if your followers are fake or real? And who are those fake followers, anyway?
Focus on great content delivered in an attractive, easy-to-navigate design that incorporates a social sharing toolbar and you’ll get plenty of “real” followers. (And be sure to visit Mitt Ray’s site and thank him for sharing!)
What one thing can you change or do differently today to make your website and blog more credible?
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