Since we’re talking about how to keep new readers on your blog, it only makes sense to take a look at the first things they see when they arrive.
It is essential to turn those all-important first time visitors into long-time loyal followers.
1. Your Blog Design
I know you’re tempted to use bright, flashy colors and lots of images to attract attention because those are the very elements that are attractive to you.
But “attractive” and “effective” are two different words.
- A theme with too many interesting visual design elements will distract your reader from your content.
- Bright, neon colors may get attention, but not the kind you’re hoping for. Most people can only stand it for a few seconds, no matter how great your content is.
- Too many images will slow down your blog’s load time, and if it takes too long to load your first time readers aren’t going to be impressed.
Your blog design should be neat, crisp and clean.
Eliminate and/or condense as many images as possible, including all the images you’re using for backgrounds and in your header.
Use easy-to-read standard fonts.
The best colors for your content box are dark fonts on light backgrounds – not vice versa.
White or yellow fonts on a black background look nice, but they’re tiring on the eyes.
2. The Individual Page Design
First time readers will often head to your About, Contact and Archives pages.
These are some of the most important content on your blog yet they’re typically the pages we give the least attention.
- Make sure each page is as attractive and easy to read and navigate as your homepage. Think of these pages as doorways to the rest of your blog.
- Use your About page to let readers know what you plan to accomplish with your blog.
- Use your Contact page to offer readers multiple avenues of contact, including an email address that you check regularly, your Social Network contact buttons, you Skype address, and even your other relevant blogs.
- Make sure your Archives page is easy-to-read and navigate and include a “search this site” box for readers looking for specific information.
- Use appropriate links to send those first time readers to the content you really want them to see and make sure those links work.
3. Your Message
When that first time reader arrives on your blog you have just a few seconds to let him know what your sites about.
Come up with a clear, short elevator statement and put it in your header so it’s visible on every single page and post.
For example, at the top of every page on Dukeo you see my message – Traffic Leads Sales!
Who is your target audience?
In other words, who would be most likely to buy whatever it is you’re selling?
What message would these people most want to hear to convince them they’ve landed on the right blog?
4. Navigation and Pathways
Every post and page your write should be written with a purpose in mind.
Yes, you’re sharing information, but to what end?
The most obvious answer is to increase traffic and subscriptions and the best way to do that is to introduce those new readers to all the wonderful content on your blog.
But giving them a reason to subscribe and come back again isn’t always enough.
Sometimes you have to take them by the hand and tell them exactly what you want them to do.
That’s where your internal navigation comes into play.
First, it’s important to make sure that all pages and categories are clearly visible and defined and that all those links work.
But to turn those newbies into repeats set up some special links in your sidebar and use images to attract their attention.
- Set up and link to a category specifically for first time visitors and/or beginners.
- In each of the posts in this category make sure you’re linking to even more relevant content to keep those readers on your blog.
- Each of those posts should also include a call to action to subscribe to your list or your RSS feed.
Remember – This is the Internet and readers have very short attention spans.
You only get one chance to make a good first impression.