Here are six blog design tips that are not only SEO friendly, but they will help you to thrill your readers and have them coming back for more. Tips one, two and three are aimed at attracting and keeping new viewers.
They are tips that will help you lower your bounce rate, whilst helping you to introduce yourself to your newest readers (without scaring them off). Tips four and five are ways to optimize your site for better SEO and better usability.
Tip number six is the most powerful way of lowering your page bounce rate and keeping people on your site longer (without using dirty tricks).
1 – Use a format that people recognize
People are drawn to the things they know. This is a well-known fact and is used across the world in many different formats. For example, try to remember the DVD covers for the “Saw” films. These films were loved by millions across the world, and each one had a similar DVD cover (except maybe for the first one).
Have you noticed that other horror films then started to copy the minimalist design of Saw 2 (Saw 3, 4, and onwards) DVD cover? Look at, “Let me in”, “Dead Birds”, “Hostel”. You should use the same idea to make up your blog design. Use the format of a popular blog, or website, and adjust it so that it still looks a little like the original, but so that it has definable differences that make it your own.
2 – Use pictures and graphics
Many people do not even consider using images in their blog. This means that even fewer will consider making pictures a part of the actual design its self. Having images and graphics in the background of your blog may act as a distraction if it is used without proper thought and care, but if it is used with tact and subtlety then it can really add to the atmosphere of a blog. Imagine a blog that is about horror films.
You could have a black patterned background with a little blood spatter on if you like, but what if you had a photo image of graveyard in the background. What if a little animation blew a gust of wind, with a few leaves, across the graveyard every thirty seconds? It would really add to the atmosphere and effect of the blog topic, without causing a massive distraction.
You do not even have to focus on a background if you want to integrate images into your design. Why not have three blank frames that appear on every new blog post template. It is your job to fill each of the frames with a picture every time you post. This means that the pictures will always stay in the same place and stay at the same size (consistency is good), and it also means that you are forced to put at least three pictures into every new blog post (because we sometimes let laziness get the better of us). This will actually integrate graphics into the actual design of your blog, therefore increasing your blogs value and usability.
3 – Use a single column of text
Never use two columns such as how newspapers are formatted. It may look like a good way to get more text into your blog, but it makes it harder for the user to read. Besides the fact that some browsers are going to format the text smaller and make it harder to read, there is also the fact that two column blogs are unneeded. An article in a newspaper is crammed into multiple columns because the newspaper printers cannot afford to waste paper on open space.
You do not have this problem on a blog. You can make the blog as long as you like. If you are tempted to put your blog into a two-column format because it makes it look neater–then consider the fact that your blog post may be too long. If you are having to cram text into your blog post area then maybe your should think about breaking the blog post into two parts and posting the second half next week or in a few days? Do not forget that your text should be well spaced out and easy to read. A very long blog post will increase the chances of your reader “tuning out” half way through the post.
4 – Have a keyword cloud on the right
This is a good idea because it is a useful SEO tactic, and because it looks prettier that the usual keyword tag list. Put them in a cloud and people will get a reasonable idea of what keywords are in your post–without having to read a list (which is boring). The user gets a look at your keywords with nothing more than a cursory glance, and that is all that most people are going to need.
5 – Put your search bar on the top of your blog
Putting the search bar in the wrong place is such a commonly occurring error. A search bar will not look pretty on a blog. Unless your blog has a very square and formal design then your search bar is going to spoil the flow. This causes people to put the search bar on the right or left of the page, or worse still, at the bottom of the page.
You have to put your search bar at the top so that people see it straight away. This is because there is a 50% chance that the page a person lands upon is not the page they want (remember the “three click rule”). You need to show them that there is a search bar, and they need to know it right away. People will not bother to search for a search bar–they will just click “back”.
6 – Have suggested blog posts scrolling down the left or right column
Suggested blog post titles are the best way (ever) to decrease your blog pages bounce rate. To utilize this fact you must have your blog post titles, and associated image, scrolling down one of the columns on the left or right. The pictures will catch people’s eye, and the title will cause them to click. You will find that many people will right click your scrolling titles and open them in a new tab. They do this so that they do not miss it (because it is scrolling away), and so that they can read the rest of the page they are on. It is a very effective way of forcing (almost) people to stay on your blog.
Image courtesy of www.freedigitalphotos.net