Writing and managing blog content is a challenging exercise in creativity. Perusing around other blogs allows the designer to glean some new ideas, and in turn this can enhance the appearance and function of your creation. Of course you don’t want to blatantly rip off other ideas, but you can draw on influences to create a unique work you can call your own. And, even if you have honed the content down on your site, successful blogging depends on interaction with the visitors who take time to provide feedback and initiate discussions.
Here are 15 short, sharp tips and tricks to help you get your site recognised. Use them as you will to edit your blog into a stand out example of your creative brain at its best; you can find the gadgets for these points in the WordPress plugins section of the official site. Simply enter each term into the search bar: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/. With 427 million downloads to date, why not join everyone else?
1. Display Subscriber Count in the Text
Visitors are encouraged to participate in the discussion when they see other people are reading the blog entries. Participation grows as the counters rise each day and the blogger will notice which entries gain the most attention.
2. Paginate the Comments
A series of paginated comments are manageable and appear as multiple SEO optimised pages in the search engines. Manoeuvring through the pages is easier than scrolling into the depths of a single webpage – it’s a good way to boost your visitors.
3. Search-Term-Relevant Landing Pages
New visitors to the blog will be intrigued the landing page contains information relevant to the search term. This technique will retain interest in the blog entries long enough for the visitor to take appropriate actions, including signing up and participating in discussions.
4. Auto-fill Search Field
This Ajax-based feature eliminates the need for a visitor to guess at the relevant searches for the blog. A list of existing terms is displayed in the drop-down window. Each search is relevant since the webpage is providing the answers to the visitor as he types letters.
5. “Smart” Sidebars
Blog categories placed in the sidebar on the left side of the page will allow the visitor to find the interesting entries throughout the blog. Expanding the sidebar is easy when the visitor wants to know more about each subject. The sidebar collapses when each link is clicked.
6. Dynamic Sidebars
A visitor will ignore static buttons and sidebars on the landing page. Noticeable changes in the sidebar buttons will create interest and involvement. All blog entries in the same category could have sidebars with intriguing links to other information on the subject. New names for old topics retain interest and cause visitors to click on the sidebar.
7. Thumbnails for Each Blog Entry
A small picture, or thumbnail, next to the blog entry title will create visual interest for the visitor. Each picture can be unique with similar images or identical for easy identification of a category. Alignment of the thumbnails on the page grid will retain the organised appearance on each page.
8. New Window/Tab for Each Link
A blog visitor will retain his position in the blog while visiting other links if every link will open a new window or tab. This convenient method ensures that visitors stay on the blog long enough to join the conversation and learn something new.
9. Peel-Away Effect
Visual effects, if used correctly, can have a positive impact on your readers. It’s best not to be intrusive with these, however, but software such as the Peel-Away Effect can create stylish page turning results. It looks great and it encourages visitors to head deeper into your site.
10. Sidebar Login Form
Distractions for the blog visitor aren’t always desirable. A login form in the sidebar of the landing page will provide fast access for a return visitor without losing their place. Fast access to the login form encourages blog visitors to participate in the conversation on every visit.
11. Image Theft and Hotlink Protection
Unique images and content separate blogs from their peers, and basic functionality can be added to the blog pages to protect the hard work of the blogger. With this installed you’ll find your pictures and drawings will not be lifted for use on other webpages.
12. Showcase the Best Blog Content
The WP-Sticky Plugin or the DOMTab method will provide a way to keep the best blog entries visible throughout the visitor’s time on the blog site. Each method has specific advantages as the blogger attempts to retain the visitor’s interest long enough to provoke some feedback to one of the posts.
13. Include a Twitter Feed
Customisation of the Twitter status is important when the conversation continues throughout the day. The blogger should always participate in the discussion to provide valuable insight to visitors. The addition of this function should be accompanied by frequent blogger participation throughout the day.
14. Include Facebook Comments
Including Facebook status updates at the bottom of blog entries doubles the exposure of every comment. More updates to the Facebook page will create more interest in the blog. New people will arrive on the blog each day to learn about the topics posted. Monitor these comments to gather new blog entry subjects.
15. Organise Blog Categories in Horizontal Dropdown Menus
Menus that run across the top of every blog page will allow the visitor to retain a sense of organisation. Visiting multiple posts is far easier when the dropdown menus never change. Each visit to the site will be enhanced since the blogger can add new topics and highlight the best entries on the blog.
Dozens of WordPress tricks have been devised to optimise the visual and navigational functions; competition for blog visitors becomes tougher each year as technology continues to advance rapidly. Visitors want to be entertained. Landing page enhancements should be the highest priority since the visitor will make immediate decisions based on the information immediately noticed. Content organisation should follow the navigational habits of the existing visitors, and you’ll find this courtesy of the ever handy statistics page you’ll have seen countless times!
16. Watch Out For Copyrighted Pictures!
It may be tempting to go surfing through Google to find images to liven up your latest blog post. Most pictures you come across will have some form of copyright on them; instead, use sites such as Wikimedia Commons to overcome copyright issues. There are millions of pictures in the public domain on there.
Alex Morris is a writer for an online toner cartridges store in Manchester, England. We sell Replacement HP toner cartridges and I blog about them. I’ve been using WordPress for over a year now and I love blogging, both for business and for a personal blog.