We’re about to enter 2017 in just a few days – can you believe it?

Time really does fly.

So much has happened in the SEO and content marketing world over the last 12 months that it’s safe to say that your blogging strategy needs a complete review.

And what better time to do it than the start of a new year?

You need to address certain key areas of your blogging strategy to maximize the impact of your content, further strengthen the relationship with your readers, and generate more consistent traffic that results in more sales.

Not sure what I mean? Let me simplify this for you

Here are 4 things you need to do well in the coming year to build take your blog to the next level and enjoy more success.

1.  Enhance the Performance and the Security of Your Blog

Can you afford to have a slow blog with poor security these days?

In a word, no!

Research shows that readers, on average, wait for around 3 seconds for a page to load before bouncing back. If your blog’s performance is not optimized and it takes ages to load everything, you’re losing a lot of visitors.

Source: Kissmetrics

But that’s not the only problem.

Poor security and slow load speed directly impact user experience which is one of the key Google search engine ranking factors.

The moment Google identifies any security breach or performance issues on your blog, your search rankings will take an immediate hit.

So what’s the solution to this?

First of all, know where your blog stands in terms of speed and performance by using Google’s Page Speed Test. It not only tells you how fast or slow your blog loads but also gives you tips and actionable guidelines to improve your blog’s load speed.

Secondly, make sure your blog is hosted on a reputable, secure and high-quality web hosting service. This is crucial for the security and performance of your blog.

Zac recommends A2Hosting, which is one of the top hosting companies on the web, in his guide on starting a blog. It’s a reliable service especially if you’re just starting a new blog and have budget restrictions.

If you’re already running an established blog, you may want to consider a managed WordPress Hosting service which takes care of your site updates, security, and other site management activities. It’s safer than a shared hosting service, but it’s also more expensive. So it’s not suitable for everyone.

Other than the hosting service, make sure you’re using a CDN to improve your site’s load speed and uptime.

2. Optimize Your Blog to Convert Visitors into Subscribers

Traffic is the lifeblood of any blog which is why most bloggers are always trying to find new ways to increase their site’s traffic.

But what many of them forget is that traffic alone is not enough to build a successful blog.

You need to convert your hard earned traffic into subscribers and followers if you really want to build a money making blog.

As we enter 2017, it’s becoming harder and harder to generate organic traffic to your site because the competition for search rankings is increasing every day and organic social media traffic is not as easy to generate as it once used to be.

So it’s crucial that you convert as many of your visitors into email subscribers as possible. Once you have people on your email list, you can reach out to them every time you publish new content or have a new offer.

Not sure how to optimize your blog for email conversions? I’ll make it easy for you.

Go to your Google Analytics account and look for the most popular posts on your blog. If you’re starting a new blog and don’t have content yet, look at the most popular content of your competitors.

You can also use free tools like Ahrefs or BuzzSumo to get an idea of the popularity of a blog post.

This will give you an idea of the 1 or 2 major pain areas of your audience.

Create an eBook or email course that comprehensively addresses one of those pain points and helps your audience take action.

Now give it away for free on your blog in exchange of your visitor’s email address.

In blogging terms, it’s called a lead magnet.

Zac’s giveaway is a great example

It addresses a single pain point and promises to deliver a tangible result.

Such giveaways attract subscribers 1000x quicker than a simple “Join Our Newsletter” box in the sidebar.

Here’s another good example from Jon Morrow’s website, GuestBlogging.com

The key to an effective lead magnet is that it addresses a single pain point of your visitors and gives them immediate value.

Use pop-up boxes, your blog’s sidebar and the space at the end of every blog post to promote your giveaway.

If you can get it right, converting traffic into subscribers won’t be a problem for you.

3. Use Visual Content to Simplify Complex Topics and Improve Readability

All of us are primarily visual learners.

Research shows that the human mind can process images almost 60,000 times faster than text content.

Since most internet users have small attention spans, creating plain text blog posts is only going to get them off your blog even faster.

This is particularly important if you’re running a blog on a technical topic that needs a lot of explaining, or a topic that is difficult to understand in general.

Using snapshots and images in your blog posts not only helps your readers understand your point better, but also allows you to keep them on your site longer.

You can use Evernote Web Clipper, a free Chrome extension, to create attractive snapshots for your posts. Or use free tools like Canva or Visme to create infographics for your posts.

Here’s a really good example of how infographics can be used to make complex or dry topics easier to understand.

Source: Fried.com – VPN Stats and Facts

You can generate even greater engagement by embedding video content in your blog posts. Several leading bloggers are already doing it and reaping the benefits.

In short, plain text blog posts are no longer effective in grabbing the attention of your readers. You need to create a mix of text and visual content to make an impact on your visitors and get your point across more effectively.

4. Boost Engagement and Build Your Influence With Facebook Live Videos

Facebook Live has literally taken over the content marketing world over the last 12 months.

Every single influencer I know is using Facebook Live to boost user engagement and strengthen their influence.

Many others are using it to drive traffic to their blog content and convert Facebook followers into email subscribers.

Studies show that users spend 3x more time watching Facebook Live videos as compared to recorded content.

Source: Bold Content Video

So if you haven’t started using this platform, you need to get on board quickly because the competition is increasing every day and the market might not be as open in a few years as it is today.

Facebook is currently giving increased organic reach to Live videos as compared to the text or link updates that you post on your Facebook Page.

So this is a great opportunity to not only build a much stronger connection with your audience by interacting with them live and responding to their queries, but also to drive additional traffic to your blog from Facebook.

Wrapping Up

Blogging has evolved over the years from a part-time activity to a practical business that is generating millions of dollars every month for people around the globe.

You need to stay one step ahead of the other bloggers in your niche and keep a close eye on the latest blogging trends and practices.

What other techniques do you think will be effective in the coming year?

I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.