Blogs are one of the most popular types of sites on the web. Companies use them to share product news, chefs use them to discuss new recipes, and news organizations use them to share breaking stories. No matter the purpose, your readers have a general expectation for using your site, and allowing them to find the info they need is important. These 10 tricks should ensure you have the basics covered:
#1. Prominent Social Media
Your blog lives on a website, not a feed that your users can easily subscribe to or follow. While RSS still exists, it's just not as prominent with casual users as it used to be, and your readers will likely rely on external sites like Facebook and Twitter to find out when you have new content live. When someone visits your blog, it should be immediately obvious how to follow you elsewhere and stay informed with new content. Hiding it away in your footer or copyright just won't do it. "Subscribe by Email" doesn't count, either. Nobody wants more newsletters.
#2. Make it easy for users to keep reading.
When someone likes your content, it should be really easy to find more like it. Whether it be in the same category, by the same author, or even posted in the same time frame. The bottom or sidebar of your blog should link to related articles that have something in common with what they just read.
#3. Clean Up Your Homepage
Cluttered homepages are one of the worst things you can do to your blog. Draw attention to your posts with thumbnails and excerpts, and keep nav items and social media away. There's no reason to spam your readers with widgets like tag clouds, archive browsing, and comment feeds. The more you try to put on your homepage, the more difficulty your readers will have finding the content they want.
#4. Lose the Sidebar
As much as I've referenced it so far, your blog probably doesn't need a sidebar. Combine your navigation and sidebar links into one place, and keep things clean for your readers. While it may not make a difference on the homepage, if your content is being consumed in an article, distracting and unnecessary side-details drawing attention isn't necessary. Remember, a majority of the web runs mobile, and your site should look like it was designed for that.
#5. Don't Isolate Your Blog
If your blog is your entire site, this won't apply to you. However, if your business links off to an external blog, ensure that it's super easy for users to get back to where they came from. All too many times have we seen blogs that "trap" the user and require them to - gasp - manually type your website in the URL bar again to go back to your landing page.
#6. Create Author Profiles
When you have different writers for your blog, people want to be able to see the difference. Author profiles allow them to easily find more content by their favorite posters, see a brief bio of who wrote the article they just enjoyed, and of course - put a name to an article and not just a mysterious company name. This means no more sharing one username and password (which you shouldn't be doing, anyway)!
#7. Make sharing your content easy.
Social media is king. As users are reading, make it super easy to share your post on social media. Not only will this improve the experience for your current readers, but it'll allow new users to find your content, too. What's better then a win-win for both you and your reader?
Be careful not to annoy your reader with social buttons, though. A "Share this" button in a sticky navbar or at the bottom of your post is usually safe, but a sticky "share" sidebar that users can't dismiss could obscure your content and make browsing a challenge.
#8. Take advantage of scheduled posts.
Inspiration strikes at odd ours, but just because you write it at 4am doesn't mean it has to be posted then! Take advantage of scheduled posting to automatically set your content to go live when you know you'll be getting the most traffic. Bonus points if you connect your blog to something like Zapier to automatically tweet and post to facebook when you have new content that goes live!
#9. Make sure search engines are finding you!
Use keywords, tags, and titles that are easy to search for, and of course - friendly links! Search engines crawl blogs and news sites constantly, but if you're not taking the time to set up these details, you may be missing out on a lot of organic traffic.
#10. Engage with imagery
Pictures say a thousand words - which means you don't have to type them. Sometimes using stock imagery, clip art, or rich media will boost your engagement even further. That doesn't mean spam your posts with them everywhere, but adding a few graphics to your text will make your content flow and keep your users reading. Walls of text don't attract readers!
These 10 tips should get you started, but there's always going to be more to learn. The implementation of each heavily depends on your blogging platform of choice, so if you need some assistance moving in the right direction, never hesitate to get in touch with us!