It’s commonly known that you only have minutes if not seconds to grab the attention of readers and potential advertisers when they arrive at your site. People are consumed with information and the internet provides it in the bucket loads. So how do you stands out from the crowd? How do you make sure that visually everything looks appealing? And, site navigation is clear and direct?
Well in case you need some ideas, here are 10 ways you can make your blog look more attractive. Feel free to use’em; and share if you have other ways in your list.
1. Keep advertisement limited and related
It’s terrible to land on a blog that serves more ads than the yellow pages. Worse if the ads are unrelated. Imagine: DirecTV ads on a web development site? I bet one will actually take your blog seriously and stay longer than 30 seconds.
Yes, bloggers need to eat too and it is alright to place advertisement on your blog. But remember: never, ever, oversell your blog and always keep ads related to your content. Your readers will thank you for promoting a product they are interested; and you get to increase your advertisers’ sales – that’s a win-win.
2. Stay focus
I can’t stress how important it is to concentrate on your blog topic. If you are writing about Java code, STOP yelling about your cats (or your plants in the garden).
Think about it, what’s the main objective of your blog? You can’t attract 15 year old girl who’s searching for Justin Bieber and 28 year old programmer who is searching for coding advice. So before you start your next blogpost; make up your mind, decide who are your target audiences, and keep your content flows focus on the same direction.
3. Use a professional theme or buy a custom blog theme
Sure there are lots of blog themes that are out there for free, but to stand out from the crowd its vital that you use one that is good. I would go as far as to say that it’s worth investing in having a professional designed theme – which explains why I am using Nick’s Quadro Theme (from Elegant Themes) here at WHSR.
It doesn’t have to cost you an arm and leg to get a designer to build you a theme that only you will have. Having a blog themes membership like me or outsourcing the work through freelancers via Elance should be good enough.
4. Remove the clutter from your site
I don’t know how many websites that I have come across online that are choker block full of unnecessary design elements such as flash clips, audio, shockwaves. The focus of your blog should be to draw the reader to the content.
If you insist to do all those cosmetic stuffs for your blog, remember the golden key: less is more.
5. Google Adsense is NOT a fit-for-all solution
Repeat after me: Google Adsense is not for everyone. While you might be keen on making a buck from Adsense it doesn’t exactly provide the most professional appearance for your website. People have become accustomed to it and many spam based sites are using it all over their websites. It puts off other advertisers especially if some of the advertisers listed in your Google ads are competitors of potential advertisers.
6. (Bonus tips on advertisement) Let people know who you are and give your web stats upfront
Don’t hide your stats or assume that an advertiser is going to email you to request them. People don’t have the time or patience for that. Give them up front, let them know your audience, demographics, Google PR and Alexa rank. They should be able to see clearly how many unique visitors you get and number of impressions.
Use an about page, contact, privacy and disclaimer. Let people know about your blog, who you are and how to contact you. Keep your site transparent in how it uses visitor information. Any attempt to hide this only increases distrust.
7. Create a fight if necessary
That’s right. Create a (civilized) fight with other blogger if that’s what it takes. Nothing wrong with taking pride and standing up straight for your opinion.
Fact: Fights gain attention, simple and direct. In SEO term, this is what we call ‘link baiting’. Quoting Robert Scoble, "Truth is, if you bash the SEO world they will all link to you, argue with you, etc." Accept it. The Internet crowds love to watch fights and good bloggers should never refuse an (constructive) argument.
8. User friendly and convenient to use
An attractive blog is more than just some nice theme designs and colourful icons. It also need to be user-friendly and convenient to use. I believe you don’t need me to tell you how important a good site navigation is. So let’s talk about the convenience of sharing your content online (which is very important these days).
In the era of Web 2.0 we have Twitter, Facebook, StumbleUpon, Reddit, Delicious, MySpace, Digg, and other thousands of unnamed networking sites. I bet you are at least using a few of them. But, have you maximize the usage of these social tools? It’s extremely easy to share a piece of good article and it’s a sin to not leverage the power of these tools nowadays.
Install Tweeter gadgets, Facebook addon, or better, use plugin like Share to encourage users sharing your blogposts with their friends.
9. Post regularly
Readers will be more likely to follow your blog if you are posting regularly – publish blogpost weekly, bi-monthly, or even monthly – it doesn’t matter what it is (although it should be at least once a week in my opinion) – but you should always stick to a schedule so your readers know when to expect new reading materials from your blog.
(Unfortunately I am not doing too well in this section. But hey, I am sure you can do better than me, right?)
10. Quality, well researched, useful content is gold
Take your time to write quality content. Don’t just follow others and have your own opinion. Some says you should spend 90% of your effort researching out what you’re going to blog (and the remaining 10% effort for typing it out). Well the figure might not be perfect for everyone but I guess it tells clearly that how important is your research to your blog. People are searching for strong quality content and if you focus on giving that you will attract a loyal readership.
11. Post from your experience
I like first-hand information. In fact, many web surfers are looking for this type of info. It’s no coincidence that “how to” information is the number one selling product on the web. Most of it comes from first-hand information. So use case studies, write in the first person (eg, use “I”), tell your readers how you solved a particular problem, etc. I sell a lot of ebooks by doing just this. It lets readers know that you know what you’re talking about; hence, you become an authority voice in your niche.
To prove Black’s point, my blogpost on BlueHost/HostMonster CPU Throttling Features is a good example. The blogpost tells the story of my difficulties dealing with Bluehost/Hostmonster’s CPU throttling features back in year 2009. Because the story is coming first-hand from a user’s point of view, it sparks quite a discussion (I got BlueHost CEO Matt Heaton joining into the discussion) in the blogsphere. In fact, it’s still attracts comments and attention (free links!) from bloggers until today (after almost two years!).
So hey, next time if you are running out idea, perhaps it’s time to look around and see if there’s anything in your life that’s worth mentioning. ;)