In the almost 11 years I have been blogging, and the five years before that I have been developing websites, I have come to understand how important it is to give the visitors to your site the most pleasurable experience, keep them on your site as long as possible, and of course make them want to visit your site again. To make this happen, there are some essential things you should have on your blog.
The sections below are all to engage your reader, and make them return for more.
Always make sure you have at least one menu on your site, and preferably at the top of your blog, where visitors can instantly see it. Now you have to find a good balance in your menu. You want visitors to see what you have to offer, but you also don’t want a menu with too many sub-levels, where visitors can get totally confused and lose interest. The things I feel you should have in your menu are the following:
- Home: a way for your visitors to return to the front page of your website.
- About page: more on this below.
- Your main categories: here you can add sub-levels, but try to limit this to only one layer.
- A way for readers to contact you.
Some themes offer you the opportunity to have two menu’s in the top, where you can put social icons at the very top of your site, and then a main navigation menu under your logo and site title. Another feature you can use is to put an additional menu in the sidebar, in a widget, or even in your footer, so visitors can easily click to get back to the front page or other categories.
I recommend to make your menu sticky, so it’s always visible to your visitors. Otherwise, make sure you have a button for your visitors to scroll up easily when they reach the bottom of your site, so they can get back to the navigation menu easily.
Above I mentioned the about page. When I visit a new site, and what I am reading has captured my attention, I want to know more about the person behind the word or images. You can share as little or as much as you want on your about page, but do make sure you have one!
Categories + Archives
Where you can also add widgets to show your most recent posts and comments, I feel the two essential widgets you should have in your sidebar are those for your categories and archives. The older your blog grows, and the more content you create, the deeper posts disappear. Adding the archives widget, shows the visitor how frequently you are blogging – I always have the number of posts mentioned too – and how serious you are about your blog.
The categories widget is even more important, as this shows the subjects you are blogging about, and if a reader is particularly interested in one category, they can click on it and instantly have all posts up on their screen. Once more, with the categories widget, I have the number of posts per category shown.
Tip: when you add these widgets to your sidebar, add them as drop-downs. Otherwise, as your blog grow, especially the archives list will grow too long.
Search your blog
Another essential part of your blog is a search button. We just cannot add all subjects we write about to our categories (you should never have too many categories, but can have an much longer list of tags). Readers might have a random word in mind and want to see whether you have written about that, and this is where your search button comes in. I have frequently left sites frustrated, because I remembered reading something there, and wanted to search for it, but couldn’t find it because there was no search button. It’s a simple service to your readers!
Want to hook your reader to read more of your work? Make sure you activate the option in your Jetpack plugin to add related posts to the bottom of your posts. This way, you might just keep your visitor on your site for longer than only one post.
Subscribe to blog
This might be the most essential widget you should have on your blog. I follow a lot of blogs, and it’s just not possible to go to each of them every day to see whether the authors have added new posts. I always subscribe to the blogs, and get an email when new content has been posted. This gives me the opportunity to read the blogs when I want, and the email stays in my inbox as a reminder that I still have to read.
How to allow people to subscribe to your blog? Add the Jetpack subscription widget to your sidebar!
Image from Pixabay