The main purpose of a blog is to attract a large number of visitors and additionally convert that traffic into regular readers. It is the most important task that a blog designer should pay attention to. If the blog’s content is unique and blog has good design than this task can be much simpler. Briefly, I am trying to explain few ideas that can help you to attract and maintain your blog’s readers.
1. Focus on Content
Who reads your blog? People. So write for them. If bloggers focus on highly-searched keywords, they will get the visitors but not readers. So the best search engine optimization is amazing content. Not website tweaks. Not a WordPress plugin. Not meta whozawhutsit. But amazing content.
A designer should give special attention to a page in the form of graphics and interface. However it’s also important that a blog’s design be focused on the content of the blog, not the form, specially for visitors arriving from services like Facebook, Twitter, StumbleUpon and Digg. It is therefore important to get straight to the heart of things, with content, big headings, perhaps a bold image and not too much else. The distracting page will make visitor move on.
2. Giving the Reader Somewhere to Go
The natural time for a reader to leave the site is when they get to the end of the post. So, It is very important to ensure the user has somewhere to go which keeps them on the site. There are many ways to do this including:
• Related Posts
Give the user links to related posts ate the end of the Post either using a WordPress plugin “WordPress Related Posts” or by running a query to show other posts in the same category or other posts by the same author.
WordPress Plugin: WordPress Related Posts
• Archive and Category Links
Give the user links to search the archives or browse the post’s category at the end of the post.
• Popular Posts
Popular posts can help you a lot in this regard. Provide the direct link to popular post is a good way to attract the user to the best content of the blog.
Plugin: WordPress Popular Posts
3. Make Browsing Archives Easy
A blog with huge amount of blog content, it is important to give exposer to the hidden content by giving archive accessible.
A designer must consider to display Archive to show older post for a user to browse. there are additional means for users to browse older posts:
• Popular Posts
Popular posts can be archived on the bases of this formula “most comments= most popular”, so that new visitors can enjoy the popular post. The design of a blog can help users find a blog’s popular posts through a simple sidebar element.
• Random Posts
A WordPress plugin “Random Post” a blog design can show a list of random posts to the user. Random Posts displays a list of randomly chosen posts. The output can be customised in many ways.
• Sneeze Pages
Arranged your blog post according to user interests. Display in a sidebar area all post from a particular category. The idea is that from a sneeze page, your readers can be sent off to different parts of a blog, according to their interest.
• Browsable Archives
Every blog must show the archive because a good blog archive give the option to dig into older and interesting posts. The Archive must have a hierarchical listing of posts according to date, category or author, a sitemap of non-post pages and a search form in case the user can’t find what they need.
4. Help the User Subscribe
The main asset of blog readership are subscribers. So encourage readers to become subscribers. There are many ways a design can do this:
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• Email Subscriptions
The best option in market for email subscription is Feedburner. Feeds permit subscription to regular updates, delivered automatically via a web portal, news reader, or in some cases good old email.
Feeds also make it possible for site content to be packaged into “widgets,” “gadgets,” mobile devices, and other bite-sized technologies that make it possible to display blogs, podcasts, and major news/sports/weather/whatever headlines just about anywhere.
• Help with RSS
The new method for easily distributing online content is often called a web feed and the technical format that makes it possible is called RSS, which stands for Really Simple Syndication, Rich Site Summary, and/or Rockdale, Sandow, and Southern (Railroad) if you trust the good folks at AcronymFinder.com. RSS is based on XML, a widely used standard for textual information exchange between applications on the Internet. RSS feeds can be viewed as plain text files, but they’re really designed for computer-to-computer communication.
• Ask Reader to Subscribe!
The best time to ask a reader to subscribe is at the end of a post. It’s easy to add a button or sentence asking a user to subscribe in a panel at the end of a post.
• Utilize Current Subscriber Numbers
If you are one of the many bloggers using Feedburner to manage your RSS feed, there’s a good chance you’ve chosen to display your feed numbers using their FeedCount chicklet. Ever wonder if you could free your feed count from the confines of that tiny graphic and let those numbers bound free, to be styled however you might please with the magic of CSS? Well folks you can!
5. Engage the Reader in Discussion
Allowing Comment on a post is a great way to extend a stay of casual visitor into a regular visitor, this will engage theme in the discussion. A Blog designer can help readers to get involve in discussion by using the following ways:
• Make It Easy to Comment
Commenting must be very easy. At the end of the post the comment area should be very prominent and clear so the user knows where to go and what to do. It is good idea to allow comment without signup process but should be requested to provide name, email and web address of readers blog.
• Show Recent Comments
To show resent comments on blog’s homepage or in the sidebar is a good way to get casual visitors involved in a discussion. It also gives the user more incentive to comment as there is more emphasis on discussion on the blog.
• Include Comment Subscriptions
There is WordPress Plugin Subscribe to Comments. Subscribe to Comments is a robust plugin that enables commenters to sign up for e-mail notification of subsequent entries. The plugin includes a full-featured subscription manager that your commenters can use to unsubscribe to certain posts, block all notifications, or even change their notification e-mail address!
• Use Gravatars
Lets weblogs and similar sites display user-provided pictures from a central database. Setting up Gravatars on your site is easy; you don’t even need an account! Plugins are available for leading blog software and content management systems, and Tutorials will have you running Gravatars in no time.
References: www.bittbox.com, www.coddlepot.com, www.churchwhisperer.com, today.slac.stanford.edu, www.neckcns.com, How to be a Rock star WordPress Designer By Collis Ta’eed & Harley Alexander, www.you-can-teach-writing.com