When people visit your site, what’s the single-most important thing you want them to do – aside, perhaps, from reading and loving the post that brought them there? You want them to hang around a bit and come back. So, how do you make people want to come back to your blog?
Besides writing great content, there are some things you can do to ensure that people want to – and can – visit your blog again.
1. Prominent subscribe and social media buttons. One of the biggest mistakes I see a lot of bloggers (and not necessarily new ones) make is not placing your blog subscription and social media buttons in a prominent location on your site.
Your sidebars should be arranged based on what is most important to your readers. That usually means RSS feed and social media buttons come first. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve found a blog I’d like to follow and couldn’t find an RSS feed or email subscription button anywhere. I know how to subscribe to a blog without the button, but a lot of people don’t…and a lot of times, I just don’t want to take the extra steps to do so.
Your RSS feed, email subscription, contact, Facebook, Twitter, Pintrest and other social media buttons should be displayed prominently and in one spot. Most readers are used to these buttons being together, so they may overlook some of them if they are scattered around your blog’s sidebar.
2. Dark font on a light background. There is a reason why books, magazines, and newspapers feature a dark font on a light background – it’s easy to read and doesn’t place strain on the eyes. You make like your dark background and white (or pink or red or blue or whatever) font, but your readers don’t.
The text starts running together and it’s hard on the eyes. Invite your readers back by making your blog easy to read. And, while you’re at it, I’ve read that a 12 or 14 point font size is optimal.
3. Narrow header. The point on a reader’s computer screen where they have to scroll down to see more is called the “fold.” What shows “above the fold” is very important because it’s the stuff that will capture a visitor’s interest and make them decide if it’s worth scrolling down to read more.
Your header should be narrow enough that at least your first blog post title and a few lines of text show above the fold. If you’ve got room for a photo, that’s even better. Most readers decide very quickly, based on the title and a few lines of text whether or not they’re interested enough to keep reading. When all they see is your header, they don’t have much upon which to base that crucial decision.
3. Clean sidebars. Your blogs sidebars should not look like a NASCAR vehicle. I’ll admit, this is a hard one for me, but you really should limit the information in your blog’s sidebars to only the information most pertinent to your readers:
- Subscription and social media buttons
- Your photo and “about me” section (because your readers want to know who they’re reading)
- Spots for searching your blog and reading your archives
You should limit:
- Ads and affiliates (Besides avoiding overwhelming your readers, limiting ads and affiliates makes this space more effective for your advertisers.)
- Blog buttons and blog rolls (A separate page works better for these.)
- Awards (Put these on their own page, as well) and badges
4. Large photos. Don’t be stingy with your photos – they’re the “eye candy” of blogs. Make them big – nearly the same width as your text is great. Just a few months ago, I posted my favorite tips for making quality photos for blog posts. The only update I have to add is that I’ve started making all of my photos 525 pixels across for horizontal photos and 525 high for vertical.
6. No music. I know some of you love your music. It sets the mood or expresses your personality and it’s your blog so you should be able to have music on it if you want to, right?
Not if you want people coming back to your blog.
What’s wrong with music? Picture this: It’s late at night. The house is quiet and the baby has just fallen asleep in Blog Reader Mom’s lap. She is enjoying a few minutes of catching up on Facebook and her favorite blogs before crawling into bed herself.
She happens upon your blog. She’s just starting to read when suddenly the music from your blog comes blaring through her PC speakers! The startled baby begins crying, waking her husband and children sleeping nearby.
So much for catching up on blogs and Facebook. Now, Blog Reader Mom has to spend what she’d hoped would be her quiet time getting everyone back to sleep. Do you think she’s going to want to come back to your blog anytime soon?
The keys to remember are:
- Make your blog easy to read
- Make it easy to subscribe
- Minimize the clutter
- Nix the music
- Make it as visually-appealing as possible
What tips would you add for helping to create an inviting site to visitors would like to return?