Getting people to visit a blog is like trying to get someone to find a message in a bottle you’ve flung out into the ocean… except the ocean is, in fact, made up entirely of bottles itself, and you are on a vast archipelago where thousands of other people are likewise tossing their own bottled messages into the sea. Getting them to stay on your website’s blog is even harder. Internet users have notoriously short attention spans and even less patience, so knowing what and what not to do on your website’s blog is crucial if you want it to see any measure of success in the world of the internet.
Ultimately, what you need to do is avoid things that may put off users, force them to do more work than they’re willing to put in, or generally convince them that the site isn’t worth their time visiting. These can largely be broken down into the following things.
Too Many Advertisements
This is not a jab at consumerism or the capitalist system. You can find plenty of articles along those lines in the Trotsky Weekly. Rather, this is simply an observation that advertisements are distracting, and visitors to your website would rather not have to scroll past banners advertising dating sites or miracle cures just to read a few blog posts. If you must have advertisements, keep them somewhere where they can be quickly seen, yet at the same time do not obstruct the actual content of the page. People are not on your website’s blog to read adverts; they are there to read the blog.
Especially avoid advertisements that play sound or video automatically. Those are usually just a quick way to irritate visitors and encourage them to click off from your page.
What we mean by this is that a website blog should be easy to navigate through. This is not just about placing links, but placing them in a way that is both intuitive and easy to find. Traditionally, this is vertically down the margin of the blog proper, with links leading directly to individual blog posts or clusters of related post topics. Changing this formula is likely to irritate and confuse visitors, so it is best to stick with it unless you know your new design would work just as well. Don’t bury navigation links in the main body of the text on the page either, and always keep the links together.
Each page should also have links to other pages where necessary. If necessary, include on your blog and every other page on the website a link to the home page, where you should have a complete list of links. You should also keep it as consistent as possible. Don’t put a full list of links on some pages, but not others. The only exception is the home page.
Keep your blog organised and well structured. For example, if you find yourself posting about certain related topics regularly, then assign them all tags and create a folder for them. Likewise, make sure that it is clear within the first five seconds what the visitor is looking at. Make proper use of clear, bold font, and ensure that titles and subtitles are underscored to mark out different sections of text to the reader.
If done correctly, your blog should not take too long to sift through to find relevant information. Visitors should not spend more than five or ten seconds to find what they need.
Make sure your blog is easy to read too. No one will stay on a website if they cannot even read what’s on it. Use bold, legible lettering, avoiding the use of fancy fonts and styles in favour of simpler ones, such as Ariel, Courier, or Times New Roman. Also choose colours that contrast well with the surrounding page. Always use dark on pale, and pale on dark.
Never insist that your visitors sign up to your website to read your blog. This will quickly encourage them to click off and find an alternative site, as very few people have the patience to sign onto a website they’ve just landed on. This goes double if e-mail verification is needed. Never create barriers between visitors and your site if you can avoid it. If you cannot avoid it, at least give the visitor of taste of what they can expect from your website’s blog. Once their interest has been piqued, you can throw a registration request at them.
If your website as a whole has not been updated for a few years (or even a few months), then most visitors will assume it, and the blog, is either dying out or already dead. This will convince them that it is worth their time looking elsewhere. If you have a blog, update it as frequently as possible, and always ensure the content is fresh. Give it a redesign now and then if you like, but be aware this may alienate older, frequent visitors. Fortunately, blogs by their very nature are easy to help keep the site updated.
The writer, Christian Mills, is himself a freelance writer who specializes in digital marketing and ecommerce fields. For those looking to make money online, he recommends making sure your site has a secure checkout process through a third party provider like FastSpring.com. You can learn more about Christian on Google+.