How to Start Getting Organic Traffic to Your Blog
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How to Start Getting Organic Traffic to Your Blog


Writing a blog that no one ever reads is the internet equivalent of throwing a party, where half the people who’ve marked themselves as attending on Facebook don’t turn up. 

That moment when you log into Google Analytics and see that your posts have had three visitors in the past month, and two of them were you, is exactly like watching the hummus you decided to make from scratch (that’s a thing) remain untouched by the four guests that come to your house; two of whom are already claiming they’ve got another birthday party to go to and are making for the door.

There are two questions here. The first is whether Facebook RSVPs can ever be an accurate way of knowing how many people are actually coming to your event (absolutely not). And the second: what’s stopping people turning up? 

Let’s now transfer this clunky metaphor to the marketing world and get to the point of this post: why is no one turning up to read the content on your blog?

We’ve all seen brand and company blogs that lean too far towards being salesy, unrelatable and self-serving. They answer the company’s needs (here’s why you should buy hummus!) rather than those of potential readers (how do I make hummus from scratch?) – and the amount of organic traffic they get suffers as a result.

Which is why getting people to arrive on your blog requires planning, research, and having a bit of a clear out. And a lot of this needs to happen before anything even goes live. 

So if you’re wondering how to get organic traffic to your blog, here are some steps to follow. Done right, it’ll increase visits over time, build your company’s reputation as an authority on topics within your niche, and help your site’s SEO as a result. 

(Disclaimer: I can’t guarantee it’ll also make people come to your party).

1. Audit your existing content

This is the necessary bit of cleaning before you invite people over.

Except in this scenario, you’re using a big spreadsheet to work out what needs to stay, and what needs to go. My colleague Ben has helpfully created a content audit template which makes life a lot easier, so take a look at that before you get started. But I’ll go through some basics below.

Hopefully, you’ll already have Google Analytics running on your blog, so head to 

Behaviour > Site content > All pages 

…and change the date range to at least the last year. This should bring up a list of all your blog posts, and the traffic they’ve received over that time. Export it. You’re going to use this list to find out what blog posts are already getting traffic, and which ones aren’t. 

You might also want to check other metrics on these posts, like whether they’ve got any backlinks – because that might also inform what content you want to keep. To do this, you could combine backlinks detected in Google Search Console with data from either Ahrefs or Majestic.  

Then, starting with the highest to lowest traffic, one by one, go through each of the posts in terms of content and note/look out for the following:

  • What posts are getting consistent traffic? 
  • Which posts have seasonal spikes in traffic
  • Which posts get no traffic at all
  • Are there any popular topics/themes/categories

Make a note to fix:

  • Outdated content 
  • Broken images
  • Strange formatting
  • Broken links

And ultimately against each one, mark whether to:

  • Keep it 
  • Keep it, but update/repurpose it
  • Delete it completely
  • Delete it + redirect to a more useful post

By the end of this stage, you’ll have a list of actions to go through to help your existing content work harder. 

2. Keyword research

Next, you need to find out which topics it makes sense for your brand to be writing about in the future. And within that, the specific terms people are actually actively searching for. 

Spoiler alert: it might not directly relate to whatever you sell. 

There are a number of tools you can use to do this (free and paid) – and we’ll go into those in a future post. But essentially, it’ll involve using tools like Ahrefs, SEMrush and Keyword Planner to identify:

  • Relevant search terms within your niche
  • Their monthly search volumes
  • What your competitors are writing about 
  • Seasonal trends where traffic might spike

And once you’ve got a list of search terms to write content around, it’s time to start turning these into long tail ideas for evergreen blog posts. It’s these that, little by little, will build up traffic to your blog over time. 

3. Brainstorm topic ideas 

Your keyword research will leave you with a list of questions or informational non-branded terms and their search volumes, and an idea of when they peak. 

But the tricky bit is turning those terms into useful, relevant blog post ideas that fit neatly into a content calendar and align with your brand’s demographic. Remember, your aim here is to answer queries, become an authority on a particular topic, and provide relevant information. 

No one wants to come to a party and have the host do a hard sell. 

To rank in the SERPs, the posts will need to be detailed and well researched – so keep your business’ expertise in mind when you’re coming up with ideas. Don’t be afraid to go niche. 

Again, you might want to use some tools here to help you. Sites like Answer the Public can give you suggestions, or ‘People also ask’ on the Google SERPs. 

Let’s take an example: you’re a hotel brand, and your keyword research says that “things to do in London” is a good, high volume keyword to target. 

But it’s also a highly competitive term. So perhaps there’s a better way to narrow things down even more:

What other things dictate someone’s need for a hotel in London?

  • Time of year / seasonality
  • Specific interests, activities or events
  • Location: particular areas/boroughs

Your list of potential blog post ideas could a bit like this:

  • Things to do in London when it’s raining 
  • Baby-friendly museums in London
  • Where to take mum for her birthday in London

Do this until you’ve built out a big list of blog post ideas covering all the different topic areas you identified in your keyword research. Next step: plan it out. 

4. Plan out the content

Once you’ve got a huge list of blog post ideas and an idea of when their search volumes peak, use a content calendar to plan out what you’re publishing month by month. Here’s a useful guide to creating a content calendar which you can feed these organic traffic posts into.

When you’re planning out your content, consider:

  • Resource and time: to stand a chance of ranking, these posts will be comprehensive, well researched, and detailed (more on that next)
  • Posts will need to be written and published before the search volume peaks
  • Aim to publish at least 4 weeks beforehand, e.g. a post about Halloween outfit ideas would need to be published around mid September to catch the upward tick

5. Research the competition

Ok, let’s see what’s happening at that party. Not yours; no one’s at yours. The other, better one your guests are off to instead. You do some digging, and find out that party’s got a proper DJ and a decent sound system, while you’re putting your iPhone speaker in a wine glass. Where would you rather be?

Basically, before you start writing: know what you’re up against.

Take the blog post title you want to rank for (e.g. “things to do in London when it’s raining”), Google it, and see who and what is already ranking.

  • Format: are they numbered listicles (if so, how many ideas do they list?), long form pieces, or step-by-step guides? 
  • How recent is the article? 
  • Who currently has the featured snippet and what could increase your chances of getting the top spot? 
  • What’s the word count? How many items are they listing?

Remember: depending on your niche, your blog content competitors might not be your direct business competitors. 

So, Booking.com might be your competition when you’re selling hotels in London, but when you’re informing people about things to do in London, you could be up against established authorities like Time Out, travel magazines, or tourist boards. This gives you an idea of how detailed and well researched your post needs to be to compete.

Once you’ve got an idea of what your blog post needs to include, write a strong brief. 

5. Training for copywriters

Unless you’re working for one of the media outlets above, the chances are you don’t have a team of journalists working in-house.

And as I said, depending on your niche and industry, your competition might be lifestyle publications staffed by journalists.

The shift to writing more editorial-style content can be tricky if you’re working with in-house copywriters who are used to writing quite short, salesy product-focused copy. 

Depending on the competition, these evergreen, organic traffic driving posts are going to need to be more than 500 words of generic fluff. It’ll require research, sometimes resulting in upwards of 1,000 words, to be able to compete with whatever’s ranking on page 1. 

So if you don’t have the expertise in-house, consider where you might be able to get it. 

  • Who in your company can add expertise? 
  • Can you interview them and shape their answers into a post? 
  • Do you have the budget to source external freelance resource? 
  • Can you invest in basic SEO training for your copywriting team to help them along?

If you’re stuck, here’s a post on how to write high quality content to get you started.

7. Optimise, optimise, optimise

Before you publish, there’s a last bit of admin. Here are some things to check:

  • Whether you’re linking to other relevant blog posts (internally or externally)
  • If you’ve included a call to action at the end of the post
  • Whether your titles and meta descriptions are optimised for search (if you’re using WordPress, a plugin like Yoast allows you to specify different titles and descriptions for search and social)
  • Avoid putting dates in the URL (i.e. best-things-to-do-London-winter-2019) so you can update the same post next year without it looking out of date
  • Images are consistently named, spaced and formatted, the file sizes are low 

8. And last but not least, keep it updated

Kind of like getting people to turn up to your party, having an organic content strategy requires planning and work along the way.

It’s not a short term plan. It can take a good few months for a blog post to start getting organic traffic, and you might find you need to revisit the posts every so often to keep them updated and relevant.

So once you’ve written a post, keep a calendar note for seasonal posts that can be updated each year / as appropriate instead of creating new ones. 

That’s just an overview of the steps you need to take, and we’ll be going into more details in future guides. 

If you’ve got any questions in the meantime, or are wondering why your blog isn’t getting the organic traffic you think it should, get in touch and we’ll be happy to help. 





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How to Start a Blog That Makes Money Right Now
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How to Start a Blog That Makes Money Right Now


Starting a blog is a great way to generate extra income. Even better, it’s something you can do in a few easy steps. If you’re committed to monetizing your blog, you can begin earning money today. 

The key to success is being committed. While it’s true that most blogs fail, there are reasons for their lack of success. As with any endeavor, you’ve got to put in the work. When it comes to blogging, that means going through the right steps to get set up, publishing regularly, and ensuring your content is engaging. 

Need some motivation? Just take a look at some of the most successful bloggers today. For example, blogger Pat Flynn earned over $127,000 in one month with his blog Smart Passive Income. Food blogger Lindsay Ostrom uses her Pinch of Yum blog to earn $66,000+ every month.

You can replicate these bloggers’ success by setting up your own blog and adding content people want to read.

Ready to get started? Let’s look at the 7 steps you need to launch your blog and start seeing your income grow. 

1. Sign up for Bluehost 

Before you can start blogging, you need a website hosting company. There are several web hosting services to choose from, but Bluehost offers a unique combo of affordability and comprehensive services. 

Here are some of the features you can expect when you sign up with Bluehost:

  • Free domain name
  • 24/7 customer service, which really comes in handy when you’re stumped by a technical problem
  • Unlimited storage
  • Unlimited domains (starting with Plus plan) 
  • Automatic site backups
  • Extremely competitive prices

The last feature is perhaps the most important one. If you want to start out with one website/blog, you can go with the Basic plan, which will cost you just $3.95 per month.

Bluehost is also known for its seamless integration with WordPress, which is the most popular platform for blogging.

Now that you know what Bluehost has to offer, it’s time to install it. Here are the steps to make that happen. 

Step 1: Go the the Bluehost website

Go to Bluehost.com and click the green button that says “get started.” 

Step 2: Choose your plan

Bluehost offers four hosting plans: Basic, Plus, Choice Plus, and Pro. The Basic plan is $3.95 per month. The Plus plan costs $5.95 per month, and the Choice Plus plan is $6.95 per month. The Pro plan, which is the most robust package, is $13.95 per month. 

These options change from time to time, and Bluehost typically offers some kind of discount or special intro pricing. Upgrading your plan is easy, so you can always start out with the Basic plan and move to a plan with more features down the road.

Step 3: Choose a domain name

Now you’ll need to tell Bluehost your domain name. This is the name of your blog. If you already have a website, you can enter it at this point.

If you don’t yet have a domain name, you can register a new one with Bluehost for free for one year. Bluehost also gives you the option to skip this step and come back to it later. 

Step 4: Create your account

Next, Bluehost will want to collect some personal info about you. This is also where you’ll fill out your payment details. 

Step 5: Choose add-ons for your site

Bluehost offers some additional add-ons for your new website. These are optional features like Sitelock security and domain privacy.

Some of these features are nice to have, but they aren’t necessary if you need to keep your costs down. For example, domain privacy hides your name and personal information in the event someone runs a whois search on your site.  

Step 6: Click “submit” and you’re done

When you’ve filled everything out, just click the green “submit” button to complete the signup process. Bluehost will email you to confirm that you’ve successfully created an account. 

If you haven’t already purchased a domain, that’s your next step. If you have a domain, you can go straight to installing WordPress on your domain.  

2. Buy a Domain on Bluehost

Once you have a Bluehost account, you can buy a domain. This is where your blog will “live” on the internet. Here are the steps for buying your domain. 

Step 1: Login through the Bluehost control panel

Go to the control panel. Since you already have an account, you’ll use your account login and password. 

Step 2: Click “domains” on the left side of the control panel

You’ll find “domains” on the left side of your screen.

Step 3: Search your desired domain to make sure it’s available

Run a search to make sure the domain you want isn’t already taken. 

Step 4: Add your domain to your cart

For demonstration purposes, we searched “awesomeblogtomakemoney.” Bluehost returned results letting us know all the options available, along with some alternative domain names to consider.

If the domain you want is available, add it to your cart by clicking the green shopping cart icon to the right of the domain name. 

Once the domain you want is added to your cart, a window displaying your cart will open on the right side of your screen. Click “next.” 

Step 5: Review the registration details and click “add to cart” 

In this step, Bluehost will ask you a few questions, including whether you want to add domain privacy and if you’d like your domain to renew automatically. When you’re done, click “add to cart.” 

Step 6: Enter payment info and complete your purchase 

You’re almost there! If you already have your payment information in your account, you’ll just need to confirm it. If you want to add a new credit card or other payment method, you can add that info. 

When you’re all set with payment, confirm your purchase and click “process order” to buy your domain. 

3. Install WordPress

Now that you have a domain and web hosting, you’re ready to set up your blog. There are many platforms that let you do this, but WordPress is the most popular and user-friendly. It also features excellent support, so you can get answers from experts when you need to troubleshoot. 

Fortunately, the WordPress installation process through Bluehost is very easy. Here’s what you need to know.

Step 1: Log in to your Bluehost account

By now you should be pretty familiar with your Bluehost login. Just enter your email or domain and your password. This will take you to the main account page. 

Once you’re logged in, click “My Sites” on the left side of your screen. 

Step 2: Click “create site”

This will take you to a new page with the option to create a site. Click “create site.”

Step 3: Fill in your website information 

This will take you to a screen that asks for some basic information about your website. Fill out the “site name” and “site tagline” and then click “next.” Don’t worry about this too much, as you can always change it later on. 

Step 4: Select your domain name

You should already have a domain name, so you only need to click on the domain drop-down menu and choose the correct domain. 

Step 5: Click “next” to install WordPress

One you click “next” the Bluehost auto-installer will automatically install WordPress on the domain you chose from the drop-down menu.

You’ll see a confirmation page letting you know that WordPress installed successfully. Click “login to WordPress” to prepare for the next step in setting up your blog. 

Once you’ve installed WordPress, you can login to your blog through your domain. To do this, you’ll need to go to your login URL, which will look like this:

To do this, you’ll need to go to your login URL, which will look like this:

http://www.yourdomain.com/wp-admin

From here, you just enter your administrator username and password. You’ll want to login to your domain when you’re ready to move to the next step, which is installing a theme. 

From here, you just enter your administrator username and password. You’ll want to login to your domain when you’re ready to move to the next step, which is installing a theme. 

4. Get a Free or Low-cost Theme

Now you’re ready to install a theme, which is what gives your blog personality and a specific look. You can think of WordPress as a blank slate — like four white walls in a room with no carpeting — and your theme as the wallpaper, paint, carpet, furniture, and whatever other kind of decor you want to throw in there.

In other words, without a theme, your WordPress blog is going to look pretty bare. Fortunately, you can find hundreds of free themes. You can also purchase a premade or semi-custom theme without breaking the bank. 

Once again, Bluehost makes it easy to install a theme. You can browse the Marketplace inside Bluehost to find a selection of themes. Just go to the main account page and click “marketplace” on the menu on the left side of the screen. Then click “WordPress Themes.” 

This will take you to a list of themes with a variety of price points. You can click “live preview” to see how each theme looks when it’s installed. 

However, you don’t have to limit yourself to Bluehost’s offerings. There are numerous places to find free and low-cost WordPress themes. In fact, part of the fun of launching a WordPress blog is finding the perfect theme. 

If your budget is tight, it’s perfectly okay to start out with a free theme. To find lists of free themes to browse, just google “best free WordPress themes.” This will turn up dozens of lists with links to themes you can install without paying a penny. 

If you want something more customized, you can also check out some affordable themes offered by talented WordPress developers. For example, Theme Forest offers thousands of WordPress themes for as little as $2. You can filter results to find a theme that fits the mood and content featured on your blog. 

Other places to check out include Elegant Themes and Studio Press. Have fun with this step — and keep in mind you can always change your theme as your blog grows. 

5. Configure Your Site

Once you’ve installed your theme on your WordPress blog, it’s a good idea to configure it to suit your needs. Basically, this is where you’ll customize your settings and install plugins to add features that make your site more attractive to your readers.

You can compare WordPress plugins to apps on a smartphone. Not everyone needs or wants the same apps. Rather, you install the apps that improve your user experience and make your phone more useful. 

With 50,000+ free and paid plugins available, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by WordPress plugins, so don’t feel bad about going slowly with them. Think about plugins that will give your blog more features. For example, maybe you want to add a contact form so readers can get in touch with you. Or you might want to link your Instagram photo gallery to your blog so visitors get a glimpse into your everyday life.

When it comes to configuring your WordPress blog, here are some essential plugins to consider. 

  • WPForms – This is a basic contact form that lets readers reach out to you. There’s a free version and a paid pro version. 
  • MonsterInsights – This plugin connects your blog to Google Analytics so you can track how many people visit your site, how long they stay on specific pages, and where your traffic comes from.
  • Yoast SEO – Yoast SEO is a plugin that helps you optimize your blog for search engines so people can find your site. 
  • Akismet Anti-Spam – If you plan on blogging, an anti-spam plugin is a must. As soon as you hit “publish” on a blog post, you can expect spam to follow in short order. Akismet Anti-Spam offers both a free and paid version to help keep your blog spam-free, so your blog posts don’t get clogged up with spammy comments and bogus links.
  • Smush – Content may be king, but images are also an important part of blogging. Unfortunately, optimizing images can be a tedious process, especially if you’re not design-savvy. The Smush plugin optimizes and compresses images for you, so they look their best on your blog. 

6. Start Writing

Your blog is set up, WordPress is installed, and you have a killer theme and some must-have plugins that pull everything together. Now you’re ready to add content. 

And this is perhaps the most important step out of all of them.

Why? The reality is that most blogs fail. The top reason? The bloggers behind them blog once or twice, fail to see traffic, and then promptly quit.

The truth is, like any side hustle, blogging is work. Success takes effort as well as regular commitment — especially if your goal is to make money from your blog.  

On the other hand, you don’t have to be the best writer in the world to be successful. Instead, you need to focus on two things: (1) creating value, and (2) solving problems.

This is exactly what Marcus Sheridan did with his swimming pool installation and maintenance blog — the most visited blog of its kind in the world. 

Admittedly, swimming pool installation isn’t the sexiest topic on the planet, and if you’re wondering how on earth a blog like that becomes successful, you’re not alone.

Sheridan has been the subject of numerous content marketing case studies, and his story is a fascinating one. When the housing market collapsed in 2008, his swimming pool business, River Pools, was on the brink of bankruptcy. People were losing their homes to foreclosure, which meant just about nobody had the money to install a pool in the backyard. 

Facing the collapse of his business, Sheridan knew he had to do something to generate new business. Without a big marketing budget, the easiest and fastest way to get eyeballs on his website was to start answering some of the most commonly asked questions he’d received from customers over the years.

In short, he started blogging. Sheridan isn’t a professional writer, but he is an expert on swimming pools. By blogging about a subject he knew inside and out, he was able to offer his site visitors value. He gave his knowledge away for free. 

He was also solving problems. Swimming pools are expensive and complicated to maintain. When a homeowner has a problem with their pool, they’re likely to try fixing it on their own before calling a costly repair service. When Sheridan started blogging answers to FAQs, he drove traffic to his site. 

In fact, according to Sheridan, just one blog post — an article about how much it costs to install a fiberglass pool — generated $2.5 million in income for his business. 

More than 10 years after he started blogging, Sheridan says he no longer considers his business a pool business. Rather, his main business is content marketing. He generates sales by continuing to blog on a regular basis, about two to three times a week. 

Sheridan’s story demonstrates the importance of regular blogging. In addition to consistency, it’s also critical to offer readers value. What are you knowledgeable about? What kind of expertise can you share with the world? This is what your blog should focus on. 

7. Make Money

Once you start adding content, you can monetize your blog. There are several ways to do this, including freelancing, Google Ads, and affiliate marketing.

Freelancing 

If you’re just starting out, you probably want to start making money right away. Depending on your area of expertise, you can offer freelance services that generate extra income.

This strategy works well for certain professions, such as writing, web design, and graphic design. 

For example, a web designer can add a portfolio page to their site and then create blog content around design. Some potential blog topics might include:

  • 10 Design Elements Your Website Needs
  • How to Make Your Website Stand Out
  • Colors that Make People Visit Your Website
  • How to Create a Website for $100 or Less
  • 5 Reasons Your Business Needs a Website

By creating valuable and problem-solving content, a web designer, writer, or graphic designer can draw visitors to their site and offer a pitch at the same time. If you go this route, include links to your services page in the body of your blog posts, and then add a call to action at the end so readers know how to purchase your services. 

Google Ads

You can also generate income by adding Google Ads to your blog. One of the easiest ways to do this is by adding Google AdSense to your blog. This allows you to sell space on your blog to advertisers. When visitors click on ads, you make money.

To get started, you’ll need to sign up for an AdSense account. To make it easier, you can use your existing Gmail account to sign up. From there, you have to wait for AdSense to approve you.

Note that your website should be at least six months old before you apply to AdSense. Otherwise, Google will probably reject your application. 

When you get approved, your next step is to login to AdSense and retrieve your ad code, which you’ll install on your website. 

AdSense gives you the option to place ads on your site manually or opt-in to auto ads. If you choose the automated option, Google will place ads for you.

The first method gives you a lot more control over ad size and placement, but the auto option is good for beginners who aren’t comfortable with pasting code into their site’s editor.  

Affiliate Marketing  

Affiliate marketing is similar to running AdSense on your blog, except you earn a commission on sales generated by site visitors clicking on a product link on your site and then buying the product.

There are several methods for making affiliate marketing work, but Amazon Associates is one of the most popular. It’s easy to use, and Amazon sells just about anything you can think of.

However, you don’t necessarily want to sprinkle a bunch of random product affiliate links on your blog.

Why? If they lack a connection to the subjects you typically post about, you’ll probably just end up confusing (and maybe even annoying) your readers. The idea is to feature affiliate links that make sense based on the things you blog about. 

When you get more familiar with affiliate marketing, you can branch out to other affiliate marketing opportunities, including links for services. These are things like email hosting, webinars, and content marketing. 

For example, if you’re a freelance writer, you might want to write blog posts about how to optimize sales writing for search engine optimization (SEO). This is a perfect opportunity to monetize your posts by becoming a BeRush affiliate.

BeRush is the affiliate marketing program for SEMRush, a leading internet marketing and visibility management platform. By signing up with BeRush as an affiliate marketer, you could earn a 40 percent commission on any sales your site generates.

Start Making Money from Your Blog Today

Blogging is a low-cost way to start earning extra cash right away. If you’re willing to come up with a regular posting schedule, you can set up a blog in minutes and start earning immediately.   

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Guide to Email Drip Campaigns + 5 Examples -GetResponse Blog 


You’ve probably read a lot of case studies about people increasing subscribers and sign ups using email marketing. If you’ve tried to copy their tactics and failed, don’t feel dispirited. In most cases that success you read about in a 1,000-word blog post didn’t happen overnight.

Behind the Blog: Mythbusters: Three Myths About Influencer Marketing
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Behind the Blog: Mythbusters: Three Myths About Influencer Marketing



#influencermarketing

In this episode of Behind the Blog, FYI VP of Communications Tami Nealy debunks three common myths often linked to influencer marketing. For even more insight, check out the FYI blog: https://findyourinfluence.com/mythbusters-three-truths-about-influencer-marketing/.

Follow FYI:
FYI Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/findyourinfluence/
FYI Twitter: https://twitter.com/FindInfluence
FYI Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FindYourInfluence

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Functional Blog Design | Analyzing Blog Layouts, Sidebars, Content Tables
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Functional Blog Design | Analyzing Blog Layouts, Sidebars, Content Tables


When you are deciding which brand deserves your money, what is the most important factor you look at? 

While you might focus on product quality or fast customer service, the data shows how for an increasing number of buyers, trust is becoming the #1 factor.

But what does it mean to ‘trust a brand’? It’s a hard question to answer because trust means different to different people. 

Some like to know that you have a good track record and that you are protecting their personal data. Some want to know that you are involved in the social cause they care about. Some want to see what other people have to say about your product or service. And some just might care if you have a flexible return policy.

This is where your blog and content climb to the stage to take the central role of building customer trust. Every blog post they read, every infographic they scroll through, and every video they watch is moving them one step closer towards conversion. So your goal should be to design a blog that will keep them around for as long as possible.

Whether you are starting a brand new blog, giving new life to an old one, or just looking for ways to reduce your nasty bounce rate percentage – reading the rest of this guide should be on top of your to-do list since it lists all the necessary steps needed to build a functional blog design.

Designing a welcoming blog homepage

You have probably come across this study that shows how people need only 50 milliseconds to form an opinion about the visual appeal of the website they are visiting. 

While this gets cited a lot because it is a flashy number, in the grand scheme of things, it is irrelevant. If your blog is designed well, it will look good whether you look at it for 10 milliseconds or 20 minutes. 

The same is true the other way around. The only thing that really changes is the hope that, if people stay long enough to look past the visual mess, they might get pulled in by the quality of your content. 

There are hundreds of superbly designed blogs you can use to boost your creative spark. However, don’t fall into the trap of clinging to designs that look the best. There is something to be said about functionality too.

To get the best of both worlds, before you start any work on your blog, you need to answer 2 questions:

  1. What kind of feature images do you plan to use (if any)?
  2. Does your content stretch across multiple distinct categories?    

Let’s explore why these things matter by looking at some examples.

Let’s talk about blog layouts

There are some creative blog designs out there, but we will concentrate on the 5 most common ones.

1. Standard grid

Probably the most used approach to designing the main blog page. Here are a couple of great examples from HelpScout and Marketo.

functional-blog-designfunctional-blog-design

While you can find blogs that use 2, 4 or even 5-column layouts, 3 seems to be the sweet spot. That is probably because the 3-column layout gives you just enough room to show of your featured image, title, and post description, all while giving desktop users the ability to reach 10+ different content recommendations with just a single mouse scroll.

2. Uneven grid

This approach gives the page a little bit more dynamic and enables you to put more focus on the content you want to highlight by giving it more space on the grid. It can be a neat way to throw in some lead magnets into the mix as well.

3. Single column layout

Another very common approach to blog design. On the pictures below, you can see how Limble CMMS and WiseStamp use this same approach, but with different results.

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Limble CMMS created custom images so they let them shine and catch the reader’s attention. However, because of this, with a single mouse scroll, visitors don’t see more than 2 content suggestions.

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On the other hand, WiseStamp decided to sacrifice their featured images in a way, but in return, they are able to fit multiple content suggestions into a single screen. 

Additionally, if you go and open their blog, the first thing you will see is actually a slider that sits on top. This is a nice way to add some interactivity to your blog if that’s something you’re a fan of.

4. Grid split into categories

Not much different from your standard layout with multiple columns. Here’s how Alexa implemented it.

This is an approach you should consider if you plan to feature distinct categories (like in the example above) or if you have content aimed at specific groups (like entrepreneurs/ marketers/ designers). An alternative to this is to feature a drop-down category filter or to include the categories into your website navigation. 

If you have trouble deciding how to define your categories, one possible solution is to look at your buyer (or reader if you are not selling anything) persona profile. In essence, if you have X fairly different buyer personas, you might want to define one category for each persona.

If that doesn’t work for you, I recommend reading this post on choosing blog categories from CoSchedule.

5. Minimalistic approach 

By minimalistic, I basically mean without a featured image and post descriptions. This is perfectly Illustrated by Ahfrefs’s blog

This might be a smart choice for blogs that are not consistent with their featured images. Not something I would recommend because, without featured images and post descriptions, you only have your title to generate interest. 

This works for Ahrefs because they have already built up a lot of brand trust and people can be sure that every title they click on will feature valuable advice.

One flipside of this design approach is that you can fit a lot of content suggestions on the screen, especially if you split it into more columns. This can be seen at A List Apart homepage.

Polishing user experience

Here are a few simple tweaks you can implement at your blog to improve user experience regardless of the grid/layout you decide to use:

  • implement a search function
  • add the ability to filter content based on category/tags/author/publish date/popularity 
  • include “time to read” stamp
  • implement the progress bar so readers have an easier time tracking where they are
  • add back to top button at the end of longer content pieces
  • show the engagement rates for every single piece (views/comments/number of shares/number of likes)
  • make sure hyperlinks are clearly visible by using a contrasting color
  • add a table of content for longer blog posts

Now, don’t go and implement everything from this list. Choose the things that work for you. For instance, if your content gets a lot of shares but very few comments then show only the metric that represents it in a better light.

What is the purpose of your sidebar?

If there is one thing we often overlook when it comes to blog layout, it is the sidebar. That is not to say that blogs aren’t using it, what I’m trying to say is that they are not using it to its full potential. 

Besides usual things like search, tags, and most popular content, you should consider other things that will keep readers engaged.

A good example again comes from WiseStamp that features short tutorials that showcase their product. 

The sidebar elements are made to “stick” so they are always visible on the screen while you scroll through content. 

While I can’t know for sure, this is probably an attempt to offset the general disinterest in sidebars. Our attention will always be on the content we came to read or watch. If you have a really important message you want to bring forth through the sidebar, you want to keep it in sight at all times. 

Make maximum use of your sidebar. Quizzes, calculators, rotating testimonials, social media feeds, comments, lead magnets…these are all elements that can build trust, increase engagement, and maybe even earn you some leads. 

All of that being said, they are some arguments against the sidebar. For instance, a case study from ImpactBND shows that removing the sidebar and slapping a CTA at the bottom of the post actually improved their conversion rates.

What to make of it? Should you use the sidebar or not?

Since there are a lot of contradicting recommendations out there, it is obvious that there is no universally right answer that works for everyone. Personally, I prefer having a sidebar, as I believe that when you use it in the right way, it brings way more good than bad.

If you do plan to use one, decide on 2 or 3 items you want to feature and stick with them. After all, cramming a bunch of stuff in the sidebar can steal too much attention from the content itself. Not respecting the white space is a common web design mistake that applies to blog design too. 

Optimizing blog content

The content needs to be readable, big sections need to have clear separations, and the whole structure just has to make sense.

The devil is, as they say, in the details.

As someone who both reads and writes a lot of long-form articles, here is some additional quality of life design tips that will assits in a functional blog design and make your content easier to consume:

1) Make links open in a new tab

This is a good way to avoid back button fatigue

All external links should be opened in a new tab so the users can quickly come back to your site whenever they want. There are some debate around internal links and should they be opened in a new tab. Both approaches have their own set of (dis)advantages so use what seems best to you. 

2) Include navigation bar/content table for longer content pieces

As more and more companies adopt content marketing, we’re already witnessing a shift towards video and long-form content as the leading content formats. This ultimate guide presents a perfect example of good design with UX in mind with a content table and a clear distinction of different sections.  

For those that want to take this a step further, I’ve seen some blogs that featured a clickable content table in the left sidebar (showing H2 and H3), which made it really easy to navigate through a major piece of content. 

On the picture below, you can see a similar implementation on our website.

3) Put some thought into interlinking 

Internal links are another way to keep people exploring your blog. However, do not link to other posts just for the sake of linking. Make sure the posts you link to are relevant and add value to the post at hand. 

And, for the sake of all of us, use relevant anchor text so we know what to expect when we click on the link.  

4) Don’t let technical difficulties get in your way

It would be a shame to put all this effort into your content and blog design just to have your page load so long that people leave before they read a single word. This probably shouldn’t even be mentioned at this point but designing your blog with mobile device users in mind is paramount. 

5) Do not forget about the search intent

Since we are talking here about keeping visitors engaged in your content, it is crucial to understand the importance of search intent. 

In essence, when people type in a query in search engines, they have a specific need they are trying to solve. If your content doesn’t match their search intent, they’ll be gone in a second, and this will definitely hurt your SEO efforts.

As Joshua Hardwick from Ahrefs sums it nicely in his piece on search intent: “Relevance is the foundation of SEO success.”

There’s no way to get around good content

The content is k… I hate that overused phrase so I’m not going to finish it.

We all know this, but it has to be said. Without good content, all of this effort means nothing. Looks can only get you so far. If your blog doesn’t have a personality, people simply won’t be interested in getting to know your brand. And it is naive to think this won’t affect your bottom line.

To build top of the line content resource center, make sure you put enough effort into both looks and personality. 



This content was originally published on Source link, we are just re-sharing it.

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Growth Hacking 101 – How to Optimise #WordPress #Blogs

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Growth Hacking Tip 101

If you use the highly rated Word Press as a blogging platform , don’t forget to use this great easy to install plugin Yoast SEO .Some great features the Yoast SEO plugin offers , easy to adjust meta tags ,creating an XML sitemap, the plugin does everything for you and ensures your blog is optimized for search engines.