Are you wondering what basic items your blog needs to create a user friendly experience? In this video, we’re sharing the 10 Must Have Blog Elements.
1. Search box
• It needs to be prominent and above the fold.
• Use the WordPress default search box or Google custom search. Don’t use Lijit’s search. It takes a long time to load.
• Be a user of your own site. If you can’t find it, your reader probably can’t either.
2. Home button
• Place it on your navigation bar.
• Your top categories should also be in the navigation bar, phrase in a keyword friendly manner.
3. Light background
• They are easier to read (and dark backgrounds are hard to read).
• Keep the design as clean as possible.
4. Google Analytics
• Install Google Analytics on your blog.
Analytics That DRIVE Blog Traffic
• You need to know your stats to improve your results.
• Have your stats available to provide to PR companies and brands.
• Jetpack can be inflated and unreliable (includes bots, your visits, etc.).
5. Social media buttons
• Include links to all social media sites where you have a presence, above the fold.
• If you want to work with brands or provide services to others, you have to have easy to find contact information.
• Can use plugin like Contact Form 7.
• Also include your email address, in case the form malfunctions.
7. Share buttons
8. Faster is better
• Speed up your site and make it part of regular/periodic maintenance.
• Use a caching plugin (Example: WP Super Cache).
• Save small images (in size, not dimensions); save in the largest dimension size your site shows.
• Specify image sizes in your HTML.
• Clean backgrounds (no image, no color, no pattern, sidebar images, etc.) keep your site as fast as possible.
• Test site speed at GT Metrix with suggestions for improvement
9. Branding pictures
• On all photos (stock, personal, printables), include your logo and URL.
• Helps prevent theft of your images/cropping your URL off.
• Helps get traffic to you as the original source on Pinterest.
• Use Tools like PicMonkey, Canva, and LiveWriter (allows you to watermark images).
• Can also use a plugin like “Signature Watermark” to watermark images.
10. About Me
• Readers want to know who you are (your family, your kids ages/sex, geographic location).
• Update your kids’ ages or other important facts listed there, often.
• Can include some press/PR information for brands.
10 Things I Hate About Your Blog
Most bloggers have done everything on this list. Use it as a jumping off point for improvement.
• It frustrates readers and makes them leave your blog without commenting or sharing.
• Use the Akismet plug-in for WordPress to avoid spam.
• Moderate your comments to control spam, too.
2. Auto play music
• Turn it off.
• It’s unexpected, can startle reader, and make them leave your site.
• You can share your personality in other ways.
3. Floating social media buttons
• The mobile experience is not the same as a computer.
• Covers up the content so readers cannot see it.
• It’s impossible to close.
4. Dense text
• Although the goal is to have a post that is 300-500 words, you can use space, font sizes, quote boxes, graphs, images, bullet points, numbering, short paragraphs.
• Make it easier to read for your readers.
• Blog readers are not readers, they are scanners.
• Look at the formatting on the Squidoo.com posts.
5. Images, videos, or text that go off the screen
• Know the size of your content area. Size images to fit appropriately.
• Weird configurations make your site look unprofessional.
6. Infrequent posting
• If you’ve guest posted somewhere and link to your site, but your blog is only updated once a week, are you posting enough content for readers?
• If you post Mon/Wed/Fri, publish that schedule to your readers and stick to it
• It may be challenging to make a living (part-time or full-time) off your blog with this schedule.
• Keep the frequency and days of the week consistent.
• If only posting once a week, take the date off your post and your URL so that it is not immediately apparent. (You need to know how to change permalink structure, etc. BEFORE doing this!)
7. Tiny font
• Aim to use 14pt font size.
• Use one that is easy to read – Times New Roman, Arial, Calibri, etc., that is available on most computers.
• It’s hard on the eyes and people will not read it.
8. Unanswered comments
• Respond to as many as you can.
• Aim to reply to comments so that when new visitors come to your site, they will see that you interact with your readers.
• Manage your comments through your WordPress dashboard.
9. Random stuff
• If you have a “lifestyle” blog, you can write about a variety of topics focused on your audience.
• Use your social media profiles to post about things your blog doesn’t cover.
• Whatever you post, make sure it is relevant and high quality.
10. Centered text
• It’s hard to follow, hard on the eyes, and people will not read it.
• It shows your limited level of knowledge about blogging and dates your blog.
• Can be used sparingly to highlight a point. Use in conjunction with other formatting like bold, italics, etc.