If your visitors are forming an impression of your website in 0.2 seconds, you better make sure your site has a clean design and engaging content. It might seem easy to jam-pack your blog’s layout with widget after widget to make sure you cover all of your bases, but it can be a huge turn-off for your visitors. To help you de-clutter your blog and engage new visitors, here are four simple tips:
Optimize Your Theme
One of the first things new visitors will notice when they discover your content is the layout of your blog. Try limiting your home page to previews of posts to make sure readers click through to the full post. Not only will you increase pageviews, but you will also be able to better measure how engaged your readers are by measuring the click-through rate of the posts.
Also consider the format of your posts—if you have pictures, think about having a Pinterest-style layout. Considering how your readers consume your content when picking your blog’s homepage layout will make it much more enjoyable for them to read your content.
Take Advantage of Your Sidebar
One space that’s often not correctly used is the blog’s sidebar. It’s either a wasteland that contains one link to an “about me” section or it’s overly cluttered to the point that your readers ignore it. Here is what you should be linking to in your sidebar:
- Social Networks – Make it easy for your readers to find you across all of your social platforms by placing links to them at the top right side of your blog. If you want to get really fancy, insert buttons that let them follow you directly from your blog with just one click.
- RSS/Email Subscribe – If people love your content enough that they want to receive it in their inbox or RSS reader every day, you need to make it easy for them to subscribe. Include this in your sidebar so that readers can subscribe to your content while they are on any page in your blog.
- White papers/Downloads – Also place free downloads in the sidebar—it will be more prominent there than tucked away in the CTA of a post or as a separate landing page on your blog.
Check out Gini Dietrich‘s sidebar in the example above–she has very clear links to all three of these points.
Consolidate Your Plugins
Part of organizing the front end of your website or blog is making sure the back end is organized as well. Make sure that you consolidate your plugins as much as possible—not only will you decrease the loading time of your site, but you will also make it less confusing for your readers to interact with your blog. You may feel that you need several plugins of the same type to cover all of your bases, but it will end up cluttering your blog or website. There are many plugins that can function in multiple aspects of your blog—with Shareaholic, for example, you get social media sharing buttons, a related posts widget and analytics all in one plugin. Consolidating your plugins helps keep you organized within your dashboard and ultimately benefits your readers.
Have a Set Post Format
There is no use reinventing the wheel every time you write a post. Use your analytics to identify content that works and replicate it over and over. Some things that have worked for us have included:
- Catchy Headlines – This is the first part of your post that readers will see, so make sure to hook them in with an engaging headline.
- Formatting – If your readers are there for a quick read, make sure you have easy-to-scan blog posts by including bullets, numberings, bold text and short paragraphs. All of these formatting details will make it easy for your visitors to quickly scan your content.
- Photos and Videos – There is some truth to the axiom that a picture is worth 1,000 words. People are naturally drawn to images and videos, so make sure you intersperse them throughout your posts to really engage your readers.
If you haven’t been blogging for a while and need a place to start, use the Business 2 Community infographic above to put you in the right direction.
These are just a few tips to help organize your blog better—what are some of your favorite tips and tricks for formatting your blog?
Photo credit for thumbnail goes to Karl Sinfield.