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!