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During my #TBSCON presentation on SEO last week, I talked about Frequently Visible Dont’s (a term I coined). It’s one of the most prevalent issues in blogging. Bloggers see one blog do something. They attribute that blog’s success to that element. The blogger implements it with their brand, never knowing if it’s proven or aligns with their brand goals.
Since there is no rule book on how to have a successful blog, people start using trends to guide their decision-making process. The results are stagnant blog designs that don’t complement one’s content. Today, I’m going to talk about how you can get traffic to your blog with these four proven blog design tips.
Creating Original, High-Quality Content
With so many bloggers out there, it’s important that your voice is different, your content original, and your execution flawless. Posts should convey your expertise in the subject matter – whether that is a recipe for chicken pasta salad or how to wear overalls this fall. Your content should naturally answer questions potential readers might have.
For the food post example, readers might wonder the following: how far ahead can you make it, does it store well, what should can you pair it with, what dietary changes can you make, and what are best practices for creating the recipe.
In the fashion post example, readers might wonder about the following: how do the overalls fit, what are casual and dressy options, what other posts have you featured those items, how do they compare to other brands.
As a “Frequently Visible Don’t,” people share about their personal lives. They don’t talk that much about the topic and images they are featuring. Your textual content should always be related to the main keyword of your post.
While textual content plays a significant role in SEO and reader engagement, images will keep them on your page. Stock photographs are everywhere. The same photos show up everywhere. Not only are these images “not original,” it limits your opportunity to work with brands. Instead, either invest in building your photography skills or collaborate with a photographer.
[ctt template=”1″ link=”U07XE” via=”yes” ]What does content do with blog design? Everything! A great design can’t save bad content.[/ctt]
Curating Your Templates For User Experience
Too often I’ve seen designers not understand how WordPress blog templates work. I’m always amazed at designers and developers who quote a project based on pages and not templates. A theme is built using templates. Templates give structure and allow for replication. For example, if you decided to add a travel category to your fashion blog, it will look like your other categories.
Designers should create templates based on how users interact with them. Readers interact with your home page differently than they would an individual blog post or your archive templates.
- Home Page is your most popular page (URL), and it’s where you need to showcase your best content and its variety. Only a handful of readers will go to other places of your site after visiting your home page, so you want to get as much as you can on it while still showcasing your latest posts. Premade example: Penelope, Custom Design Example: Poor Little It Girl.
- Individual Blog Post is where readers interact with your content the most. Often, they are coming from a social media link, email blast, or URL feed. Your blog post title should align with your content. Your priority should be to the content of the individual post. Premade Example: Olivia Full-Width Post Layout, Custom Design Example: The Fashionista’s Diary.
- Archive Templates are your categories, tags, and author pages. Readers visit these URLs either from your home page menu or individual blog posts. They want to see the content related to a certain topic or keyword, so these templates should be easy to scan. Premade Example: Sophia, Custom Design Example: Modern Dame.
Designing Intentional Clicks
If your blog has an About, FAQs, Press, Featured, etc. pages, I guarantee that they are not seeing any traffic or even indexed for that matter. You want to avoid creating lots of pages to foster clicks. Since your pages are static (not updated frequently), they should answer all the readers’ questions. For blogs, there are two main pages – About and Work With Me. Subcategories included in those pages:
- About: Bio and history, FAQs, Press, Featured, Contributors, and Subscribe form
- Work With Me/Services: Description of packages, FAQs, Testimonials, Brands, Portfolio and Contact form.
Cohesive & Consistent Branding
Good design is not just beautiful. It’s clear, consistent, and strategic. Using one font for your blog graphics, then another for your emails, or various colors throughout your design results in a messy presentation. The design becomes a hindrance and not a tool. Your readers have to look past the clutter and confusion to see your content – you are making them work harder than necessary.
For a complete brand experience, you have two options – pre-made or custom. Regardless of what approach you take, you should take your time putting together pieces first. Make a plan of how you will use it for the next twelve months. For example, if you are going to use templates for your blog posts – stick to the same template for a year (at least).
When updating your branding, I recommend that you make the switch from pre-made to custom once you average more than 30,000 page views for three months. Once you have exceeded that metric, you should invest in a custom design. A pre-made design should last you a year or two before you switch themes. For custom designs, you should be able to get three to five years out of them. Hopefully, with your custom design, the edits you make after 3-5 years are to the existing template and branding (and not a complete rebrand).
When’s The Best Time to Update Your Design
You want to start the rebranding process during your slowest traffic months. For most people, this happens to be the summer and early fall. November, December, and January tend to be very high traffic months, so you want to minimize working on your rebrand during those times. If you can launch your rebrand at the beginning of January, I highly recommend it – new year, new site.
Remember, for most designers, the process can take up to three months, plus whatever their waitlist is! If you are thinking of doing a redesign in six to nine months, I would start researching designers!