The blogosphere has become a highly crowded place, and it is becoming increasingly difficult for blogs to reach their potential audience. Optimizing your blog to make it perform better in search results is a good way to improve your online profile, but that can only do so much. Search engine filters are not only looking at keyword use and overall content, they are also assessing bounce rates, click through rates, and return visits. Organic search results are driven by user satisfaction, and if your blog is visually unappealing no amount of valuable content is going to be able to salvage a falling page ranking. You may be offering the most valuable online content imaginable, but if your blog is unattractive and difficult to read you’ll never develop a loyal audience. Fortunately, there are some simple fixes bloggers can employ to make their sites more attractive to potential readers.
Theme and Design
Every blogger wants their site to have a unique and striking look. Whether it is a niche fan site, or a highly regarded industry information outlet, blog owners want to stand out from the crowd. It’s only natural. We are, after all, a very visual culture. But the design of any blog site can have unforeseen consequences. Light text on dark backgrounds may look sharp at first glance, but it can be hard on the eyes. Likewise, busy background templates can make it difficult to read your text easily. When a visitor lands on your blog site, you don’t want to tire them or dissuade them from reading further. Keep it simple, keep it clean and keep it streamlined. Black text on a white, or very light, background ensures that your content is easy to read. Also, be sure to avoid overly fancy, or overly small, fonts. Time spent reading your blog should be pleasant, not problematic.
Online readers are impatient. They like to see what is being offered on a page so they can quickly decide if they are interested in the content. Break up your text with relevant sub-headings. This not only helps to avoid large blocks of text, it helps to immediately inform the reader of the informative value of your content. No one wants to slog through a page or more of text only to discover it doesn’t offer the information for which they were originally searching.
Write for Your Target Audience
It is important to address your audience one to one. Avoid jargon that may be too industry specific for the general reader. Remember that your purpose is to be informative, and that you’re not always speaking to people with as deep a knowledge of a given subject as yourself. While you should never talk down to your readership, you should also take care not to alienate them by using terms with which they may be unfamiliar.
Pull Quotes and Bullet Lists
Pull quotes are another way of breaking up large blocks of text, and allowing the writer to highlight particularly interesting or humorous sections of the post. They also help to drive the reader’s eyes along the page and to keep them interacting with the copy. Bullet lists also help to break up the monotony of a page, while commanding the readers attention quickly and giving them a chance to assess the general relevance of your blog post.
The Use of Graphics
Photos and illustrations can help to liven up an otherwise dull page of text, but they should be used judiciously. Use topic specific illustrations to brighten up a page, and to direct the reader’s attention to items of specific interest. Keep your page layout in mind, and arrange any photos and graphics in a way that guides the reader’s eye throughout the page. Also, be sure to add relevant captions to any photos or graphics. This helps to reinforce the relevance of the illustration, and acts as an informative stop gap for those times when photos do not load properly.
Keep a Clean Blog
Minimize the use of ads and sidebars. These clutter up a page, and only offer distractions to your reader. If you want your audience to enjoy what you’ve written, give them the chance to see and read it without undue clutter.
These simple tips may seem obvious, but many bloggers ignore them while concentrating on deep tissue SEO strategies that they hope will get their blog to perform better in online searches. Sophisticated SEO techniques may drive people to your blog for an initial look, but a poorly designed site will not keep them there. By making your blog easy to read, and keeping it attractive and entertaining, you will increase your audience’s satisfaction which will lead to more return visits and more social media sharing. And that will help drive the organic search results you desire to convert more traffic.