Get the 7-Step Extreme Blog Makeover [Infographic]

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Your 7-Point Extreme Blog Makeover Guide

 The 7-Step Extreme Blog Makeover Guide [Infographic]

Every now and then, it helps to take a step back from your blog and review it with a critical eye.  Blogs tend to gather “stuff” and knick-knacks that hurt their ability to attract new readers and get posts shared.  Even blogs that have been around for years can start to look a little stale.

When I do a blog review, I focus on 7 areas that are critical to the performance of a blog.  Often, little tweaks to these areas dramatically improve the blog.  Like an Extreme Makeover, blog owners are shocked how a few “cosmetic” improvements can breathe new life into their blog.    I’ve attached a quick infographic to this post that will walk you through 7 steps you can take today.

#1: Stylish Header

Readers form an impression of your blog within a few short seconds.  Like a great smile, your blog’s header reflects the time and attention you’ve devoted to your blog.  It’s not a coincidence that the most successful blogs have professionally designed header graphics that creatively reflect their personality, voice, and purpose.

#2: Reader-Friendly Navigation

Most readers will be visiting your blog for the first time.  They will be looking for clues about where to start and what information is the most valuable.  Help them out by adding descriptive links to your navigation bar.  I’ve included a “First Visit, Start Here” link to quickly get new readers to my About Pushing Social page.  I recommend you think about what new readers need to see on your blog and provide an easy-to-understand navigation link to get them there.

#3: Organize Your Sidebar

Sidebars are the junk drawers of the blogging world.  Over time, they get filled with all kinds of barely effective widgets that were cool at one point but have outlasted their usefulness.  Cluttered sidebars distract users and often send the wrong message about your blog.  On the other hand, a simple, thoughtfully arranged sidebar can build your e-mail list, increase your social following, and even make you a little cash.  See the infographic for more tips.

#4: Visible Share Buttons

It still amazes me that bloggers still insist on hiding their social share buttons at the bottom of their posts.  The best place to place your Twitter, Facebook Like, and Google+ buttons are at the top of your post – period.  There are great plugins that can do this for you in a jiffy.  My favorites are Digg Digg and Really Simple Share.

#5: Share Your Best Post First

Whenever I try a new restaurant, I always ask the waiter, “What is the best dish on the menu?”  I ask because I want to eat the best meal.  I don’t want to poke my way through the menu over multiple visits.  In a way, I’m helping the restaurant make a good first impression.

The same reasoning applies to your blog.  I recommend showing your best blog post first.  Your best post should show your community at its finest. You can judge this for yourself, but I normally will premiere high retweet or comment posts even when they are not my own!  This makes sure that your readers have a positive first visit and make a note to return often.

[Note: You can “sticky” any post to make it the first one that visitors see.]

#6: Make a Great Second Impression

Two recommendations here:

First, always add a graphic or picture to every post.  These pictures will draw the reader’s eye and add visual interest to your blog’s homepage.

Second, use the “read more” command to segment your post into an easily readable teaser. Depending on your theme, you can feature 4–5 of these teasers on your homepage.  You’ll start to see readers visiting multiple posts simply because it’s easier to get to your most recent posts.

#7:  Footer Pedicure

Eye-tracking and heat-maps show that few readers spend time with footers. However, they are still useful for providing important affiliate disclosures and copyright information.  You can also stick any favorite widgets you can’t stand to part with in the footer too!

Time to Give Your Blog a Makeover

I suggest you do a few touch-ups to your blog using these recommendations. You can track the impact of these changes by recording when you make the changes and watching your bounce rates, pages per visit, and time on blog.  Stick with what works and keep testing.

Don’t Forget to Share This Post

Help me share these Blog Makeover Secrets. If you found this infographic useful, share it with your folks!

 

About Stan

Stan Smith is the Managing Director of Pushing Social a content marketing consultancy for aggressive, results-focused organizations.

20 thoughts on “Get the 7-Step Extreme Blog Makeover [Infographic]

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  4. Sally Erickson

    Hey Stan,
    This is just the graphic I have been putting off doing to illustrate website improvements. Now I have yours to start from. It does a great job, too. Thanks bunches

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  7. Michael Aulia @CravingTech.com

    “It still amazes me that bloggers still insist on hiding their social share buttons at the bottom of their posts. The best place to place your Twitter, Facebook Like, and Google+ buttons are at the top of your post – period.”

    I was always thinking that people will share only after they’ve finished reading a post and then clicking the share button if they liked the post :) Guess I was wrong

    I use the ShareBar like you, though you also have an extra share area on the top)

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  10. Stanford Post author

    I’ve tested having the share buttons at the bottom and at the top. The top placement crushed the bottom placement by almost 2 to 1. I believe that most people don’t read a post word for word all the way to the end. I think they do a quick scan of the title, lead paragraph and perhaps any bullets. They usually make their decision about sharing within moments which causes them to use the top buttons.

    Of course you can place the buttons in both places too :)

  11. Stanford Post author

    Hey Michael,
    I usually suggest putting your disclosures and copyright information in the footer. Since the footer doesn’t get that much attention, I wouldn’t put anything that is critical to your blog there.

  12. Stanford Post author

    I actually have the share buttons in BOTH places. They are at the top underneath my title and on the left – at the top. :)

  13. Elephant's Eye

    The best place for share buttons is at the top of your post?
    Which is why you, as I do, have floating share buttons to the left??

    My footer is a day/night map, which earns an exit link a day.

  14. Michael Corley

    Hey Stanford,

    How’d you know I was thinking of doing a blog makeover? Great visual and extremely helpful. But your review of my site was just a useful and working on implementation of final elements in advance of building a member site.

    Your still the best read on the web about blogging for someone just getting started or well on their way to producing great content.

    I did have one question specific to the info graphic:

    What’s the best content use for the footer section of a site?

    I’ve seen so many examples on sites that I can’t get a consensus built from my observations. Would love to hear your thoughts on this.

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  16. Catherine

    Hi Stanford,
    I’ve been reading your work for quite a while—thanks for all your advice. Your point about where share buttons should be located is interesting. Right now, my FB and tweet buttons are at the bottom of each post, not at the top as you advised. I thought that readers would need to finish reading (or scanning!) entire posts before deciding whether or not to share them. And that having share buttons at the end would save them from scrolling back up.

  17. Pingback: Get the 7-Step Extreme Blog Makeover [Infographic] | tehParadise.com - Tech

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