As a way to pay my dues as a new blogger in the blogging about blogging niche, I’ve been offering free feedback to anyone that submits a link to their blog in the comments section of several posts I’ve written for Fuel Your Blogging, including Are You Giving Readers A Reason to Revisit Your Blog? and What Do Visitors Learn In Just 10 Seconds On Your Blog?
As you can tell from the 200+ comments, I’ve been visiting a lot of blogs.
I’ve been to a lot of really cool blogs, and made friends with a few fellow bloggers in the process. But I’ve also been to quite a few blogs that could use some serious improvement.
Over-dependence On the About Page
Most have all created helpful about pages, but I started wondering if we’ve become too dependent on the about page. Sure, it’s a great tool to articulate what the blog is about, what kind of content will be published, and a little information about the blogger as well, but a visitor should have an idea of what your blog is about while browsing the front page.
The visitor shouldn’t have to visit the about page in order to find out what topics you’ll be covering.
Areas That Convey What Your Blog Is About
The about page isn’t the only area on your blog that conveys what your blog is about.
Consider focusing the same type of effort articulating what your blog is about in the following areas on your blog. These are often viewable from the front page, which helps convey the about to your visitor upfront, thereby scratching their need to view the about page just to find out what the blog is about.
While these areas might seem straightforward, you have to keep in mind that every blog and blogger is different.
- Header Image
- Header Title
- Header Tagline
- Menu Navigation
- Sidebar Categories
- Sidebar Tags
- Sidebar Popular Posts
- Sidebar Recent Posts
- Sidebar Resources
- The Content Itself
Of course there are other areas as well, but these are just a few of the more frequented areas.
Your visitor will likely notice your URL, even if he or she didn’t type it in their address bar manually. So while we discover new blogs from shortlinks and links with rich anchor text, we still notice the actual address of the blog.
If you’ve already registered a URL that has little to do with the actual niche or content you plan on publishing, don’t worry – there are plenty of other places where you can convey what your blog is about.
If you have yet to register your domain, this is your chance to convey what your blog is about right in the address of your blog. However, this isn’t something you can just change later – it’s permanent – and if you plan on building a brand, which you should, you will need to find a place in the middle.
The best example of a great middle ground between creating a brand and conveying what the blog is about is Pat Flynn’s blog, which is called SmartPassiveIncome.com.
If you need help getting started with your URL and getting started, check out the resources page.
This area is one of the first a viewer sees. In addition to making a good first impression with a quality image or banner, you can convey what the visitor might find on your blog.
If you opt to include a banner, such as the one here at CreativeBlogger, be sure the name or logo is clear. It’s up to you whether or not to include a tagline or any other information regarding the focus of your blog. For a couple good examples of this, check out TentBlogger.com or ThinkTraffic.
Alternatively, if you opt to feature a text title in the header, this is also your chance to inform your reader of what your blog is about. This will be easier for some blogs and more difficult for others … similar to the URL, it just depends on what you name your blog and whether you focus on branding, conveying what the blog is about with keywords, or find a middle ground.
If you’re opting to go with a header title, then you might also opt to include a tagline. This is a chance to create a concise description of your blog. Be careful not to stray into something clever only you understand … it’s pretty common.
Adding and changing your tagline is pretty easy in WordPress, freeing you to redefine your description as your blog evolves.
This area is where you’ll provide your home, about, archives, and contact links, but why not use this area to direct visitors to some of the main categories you focus on in your content as well?
The menu is one of those areas most visitors will scan over, so including a link or two to some of your most popular topics will provide the visitor with an idea of what your blog is about.
An exceptional example of this can be seen over at CopyBlogger.com.
Just like the menu navigation, the sidebar is a popular place for visitors. As discussed over at FUEL, with Does the Sidebar of Your Blog Help Visitors?, the sidebar is the place where visitors look when interested in the all important MORE.
If you fail to provide the visitor with MORE at the point they’re looking for it, they’ll likely leave your blog unimpressed. Including a few categories in the sidebar will provide the visitor an idea of what you’re publishing as well a few quick links to learn more if they’re interested.
The custom menu feature in WordPress makes it easy to select just a few categories as opposed to including the entire list (which isn’t always desirable) or depending on a drop down menu. This options provides you the ability to focus on the categories you want to share, which enables you to reveal what your blog is really about.
Providing a few tags in your sidebar can offer a closer look into what your content has to offer.
While categories cover a few topics within your niche, tags can offer an even further breakdown of those topics. However, not everyone opts to use tags and even if they do, usage tends to vary from blog to blog.
Sidebar Popular Posts
While I don’t think you should limit your linkage in your sidebar to a popular posts widget, I do think this is one of the most powerful tools a blogger can include in their sidebar.
Chances are, your popular content is going to be relevant to what your blog is about. With a quick glance, visitors will be able to get an idea of what it is others found interesting on your blog. The debate against the popular posts area is that once you start featuring popular content, only that content will be seen, and thus it will continue to hold its place as popular content regardless of the other content on your blog. This is why it might be a good idea to feature other forms of widgets as well, including …
Sidebar Recent Posts
Though I’m not a big fan of the recent posts feature, it can provide value to visitors that land on an article through the search engines or referral, because it will provide them a glimpse of the most recent content. However, for the most part if you’re just starting out, your traffic is going to be to your front page, in which case, a recent post feature is redundant.
Creating a resources area in your sidebar may help provide visitors with an idea of what to expect from your blog. This area might include your most popular posts, a few posts you recommend every readers starts with first, or even anything in-between.
The Content Itself
This is actually where I saw the most trouble … bloggers need to focus on what they blog about before they can provide their visitors with a clear idea of what they’re blogging about.
I saw a lot of blogs focusing on this, and that, and this too, and then that, and some of there.
If you’re creating a personal blog, where you express yourself and your interests as they come and as they go, consider articulating your blog so visitors understand that you may jump into blogging about the local cafe or blogging about the various religion you believe in.
How Do You Plan Helping Your Visitors Get Your Blog?
If you’re currently rethinking your blog and its focus, I’d love to hear how you plan on articulating what its about for your visitors.