Think back to when you published your last post. You wrote it. Proofread it and right before you hit “Publish” you engaged in a little promiscuous category clicking.
You went to that category box and went wild clicking any category that was remotely relevant to your blog post. Satisfied, you hit publish and kicked your post out of the nest.
That little bit of category silliness hurts more than it helps. Before I tell you why, we need to lay some groundwork first –
Your Blog’s Achilles Heel
Your WordPress blog is set-up for writing blog posts.
The inventors of WordPress didn’t give any thought to helping you promote your blog, growing your email list, or selling your products. That’s why there are only four viable spots on your blog to market your business:
- The header: Those 200–300 pixels sitting on top of your blog title and sidebar. Still a decent spot to promote for now but devilishly hard to do correctly.
- The sidebar (The Crowd Favorite) : Adding advertising, opt-in forms, social media icons, and anything else you can drag and drop into the primary sidebar widget.
- After Your post: This spot works the best but setting up an after-post box takes a little CSS and HTML expertise to make it work.
- Pop-Ups: But we won’t touch that hot topic today…
This is why blog sidebars are packed to the gills with every knick-knack we can get our hands on. Predictably, all of this stuff encourages your reader to ignore all of it and focus their attention on your blog post.
This prompts the question:
“What can I do to improve the conversion performance of my sidebar, header, and post?”
I’ll tackle all of these areas in future posts but since I dropkicked your sidebar a week ago, I’ll tackle sidebar performance first.
Did you know that you can customize your sidebar based on your blog post category?
Yes. It’s easy too.
Right now, fireworks should be going off in your head because this means you can use “focus” to boost your sidebar performance. Basically, you can show one or two important call-to-actions based on what your visitor is reading.
Take a look at the sidebar on this page. You only see two friendly offers: have coffee with me and get blog updates. That’s it my friend.
You can pull this off with a free WordPress plugin and a little category discipline.
Make your Sidebar Work Like Santa on Christmas.
Woothemes has a free plugin called WooSidebars. This clever devil allows you to create “widget areas”. You can configure these widget areas to replace your primary sidebar with a customized one based on any of these categories:
- Blog post title
- Blog post category
- Blog post tags
- Blog template (i.e. pages, search results, front page, etc.)
The sidebar on this page is configured to show for all posts in the “blog mastery” category.
Now, this awesomeness falls apart if you slap 10 category labels on every post you write. All this does is turn this plugin into a schizophrenic wreck.
It works best if you pick one category that describes your blog post. From there you can laser target your customized sidebar to the right visitor and offer them something that is relevant to the post they are reading.
But you need to go easy on your category labeling.
Category Cleaning Time
Pick one category per post. Go back through past posts and select a single category for them as well. Put yourself in your reader’s shoes and ask “What would my reader think this post is about?”
If you have 10 or more posts with a topic theme, create a new category for them and recategorize the existing posts. Ideally you should be able to narrow down your categories to 3–5 highly relevant categories that cover all of your posts. Posts that don’t fit into these categories can be labeled “general” and use your current (non-customized) sidebar.
If you have a huge archive of posts, review your Google Analytics data for the last 12 months and start with the top 10 posts.
In the end, you should have your most popular and/or recent posts placed in a single category. From there you can set-up customized sidebars with specific, focused offers.
Stick With It
These type of blog hacking tweaks make a huge difference in results. Remember you have to be different to get different results. This Category plus Customized Sidebar is the one-two punch you need to get more out of your blog.