6 ways you’re thowing away traffic on your food blog

You worked hard to get people to your site.  You took some great photos, tweeted to your followers and shared with your facebook fans, submitted to foodgawker, and got a whole bunch of traffic – yay! But oh no! They didn’t stay or come back?  Why did your traffic bottom out again after a single great day?  Why isn’t anyone leaving comments?

1. Too many distractions

Do you have every award that you have ever won plastered somewhere on your pages?  How about a badge for every community you joined?  Take a step back and really look at your blog.  Does it look cluttered?  Is this how you really envisioned what a professional food blog should look like.  Look at some big food blogs.  Do they do this?  No?  Don’t take my word for it, look at some top blogs, like the pioneer women, pinch of yum, or white on rice couple.  Seriously, go look.  I’ll wait.

Did you look?  You’ll probably notice a serious lack of badge or awards.

Let me let you in on a little secret.  Badges and awards are are a scam.  They’re almost all total nonsense.  They are fake, meaningless awards designed to direct traffic from your blog over to the site that gave you the award.  Why do you have a big call to action on your site directing your hard earned traffic over to someone else’s site on your blog?  Take it off now.

2. Lack of teasers to browse more content

Have you ever fallen into a clickhole?  If you’ve spent any time on the internet lately you likely know what I’m talking about, but may not know what they’re called.  A clickhole is a site designed keep you there clicking on as many links and generating as many pageviews as possible.  The onion even did a parody site about it.  I’m not going to give you a link to it because if you go there you’ll never come back here [I’m not kidding – I just went and got sucked in for about 5 minutes.  I had to tear myself away to finish this post].

Those sites work because at the end of every article there are numerous teasers with racy headlines designed to pique your interest, you just have to click on them, and they just keep making money on those pageviews.  You want to do this on your food blog with related posts at the bottom and/or the sidebars of your content.  They have to have enticing images and headlines.

3. No Recipe Index

So people have come to your blog, they’re interested in your content and want to learn more.  You want to make them search or browse through your archives to discover your other recipes?  Why would you do that to them?  Almost everyone is going to bounce and you’ve lost them forever.  Ensure you have a recipe index.  It looks professional, will generate more pageviews, and keep visitors on your site longer.  A great looking recipe index will also help you work with brands because they will be able to see the depth of your work.

4. Recipe Index that isn’t updated regularly (automate it!)

Do you have a recipe index that hasn’t been updated in months?  Is it something that you know you really should be doing but are dreading it?  Did you pay a web designer/developer to make one for you, but now you can’t update it because you don’t know how?

Why haven’t you automated this yet?  There is a wordpress.org plugin that will handle this for you.

Use Visual Recipe Index (full disclosure, I developed it).  It’s free (although a pro version is coming soon) and is very easy to install and set up as long as you already have your content already categorized correctly.  If you have another one you prefer let me know in the comments.

5. No email list

Think that you don’t need an email list?  Think again.  Heck, think about your own behaviour.  What does your twitter feed look like?  Is it 80% great stuff that you really need to read, or is it 98% fluff that you can safely ignore?  What about facebook, same thing?

Now think about your email.  What do you get in your inbox.  Important things.  I’m going to say that again more forcefully: EMAIL IS FOR IMPORTANT THINGS.  Yes you get important things in your inbox.  Things like bills that you have to pay, communications from loved ones that they expect you to reply to, work related stuff and other things that are often time sensitive.  You want a notice about a new recipe you posted in this mix, not buried in a facebook or twitter feed.  I would trade 20 facebook likes or tweets for a single email signup simply because you can be sure that every email you send will be seen by them.

I recommend mailchimp for everyone starting out because of their free plan.

So what do you think?  Do you have an opinion?  I’d love to hear it.

Leave a comment below if you’re going to change anything on your blog as a result of reading this – and why.