11 Essential Elements of a Perfect Blog Design (by NEIL PATEL)
1# Threaded comments
There are a lot of commenting systems out there. From Disqus to Facebook comments, the options are endless. But do you know what the best commenting system is?
“Why?” you may ask. Because threaded comments will typically increase the number of comments you receive per post by 16% to 33%. The more comments you receive, the more text you’ll have on each page. And the more text you have on each page, the more long tail keywords you will rank for.
Stick with Read More ... threaded comments no matter what. Even if you have an active Facebook community, don’t use Facebook comments. Facebook owns that content, and it won’t help you get more search engine traffic.
Have you noticed that I don’t list the full post on the Quick Sprout’s blog homepage? I only show you a few paragraphs (a snippet), which prompts you to respond to the call to action “click to continue” to read the rest of the post.
You want to have snippets instead of full posts because of two main reasons:
People have short attention spans – you have an attention span of 8 seconds, and so do your readers. By only showing them snippets, you allow your readers to choose from a number Read More ... of posts. They will scroll until they find a post that piques their interest, and then they’ll read it.
Duplicate content – if you place your full post on your homepage, you will create duplicate content, which will hurt your search rankings. This is another reason why you want to use snippets.
On your homepage, you can test the call-to-action text to find out which version maximizes the number of people clicking through and reading your post. I’ve tested the phrases:
Click to continue
The text “click to continue” outperformed the other variations by at least 10%. You should, of course, test this as what works on my blog may not work on yours.
3# Scrolling social buttons
I’ve tested a lot of social buttons on Quick Sprout. I have had buttons at the beginning of the posts and at the end, and I have asked people to tweet about a post from within the blog post. The one design that continually outperforms the others is scrolling social buttons.
When using a scrolling social plugin, make sure you limit the number of options to three. In other words, pick the three most popular social networks your readers are using. For me, it’s Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus.
If Read More ... you add too many options, in my experience, it will decrease your social traffic.
4# 11-point font size or larger
About a month ago, I wrote a blog post on how text size affects readability.
I did a test on 13 blogs, and I found that by increasing font size from 8 to 9, I was able to increase the time readers spend on site by 13 seconds. I saw another 8-second increase when I went to size 10. And I gained another 6 seconds by going to font size 11.
Granted, this only works if you are using a readable font type like Arial or Times. If your font type is hard to read, increasing the size won’t Read More ... help much.
When in doubt, use a bigger font size.
5# A sidebar on the right
Have you noticed that some blogs have their sidebars on the left? Or even worse, some have two sidebars? I’ve played around with different layout types, and I’ve found that the optimal layout is to have your content on the left side and one sidebar on the right side.
This way people can focus on reading your content, yet you’ll have the flexibility of promoting other things within your sidebar. Just make sure the main content area takes up at least 60% of your design. People come to blogs Read More ... to read, so you don’t want to distract them with other elements.
If you want to place your sidebar on the left-hand side, you can. But what I’ve found is that it typically decreases the number of people who read your content by 15% to 25%.
6# Your bio
Whether you have a corporate blog or a personal blog, you want to build a connection with your readers. Without that personal connection, people are less likely to comment or buy from you.
One way you can create a bond with your readers is by opening up. Within your sidebar, put a short bio of yourself, and then link it to your full bio.
If you have a corporate blog, put the bio of your founders or the team that manages the blog in the sidebar. Make sure you include a picture right Read More ... above your bio. People need to see you in order to connect with you.
7# Email subscription options
I’ve mentioned this before: collecting emails is one of the most important things you need to do if you want to grow your traffic. Your options vary from an opt-in at the top of your sidebar to a pop-up if you want to be more aggressive.
You’ll notice that by offering a free e-book or a course, you’ll get a good number of email subscribers. You will also see that if you ask only for people’s email addresses instead of their names and emails, you’ll get roughly 10% more opt-ins.
For Read More ... the month of June, emails made up 28% of Quick Sprout’s overall traffic. That’s not too shabby. Those users also generate the majority of my comments and social shares.
No matter what, start collecting email addresses of your readers. That way you can notify them when you publish a new blog post.
8# Most popular widget
Can you guess what the most-clicked area on the blog is? It’s actually not the content.
Within my sidebar is an area that showcases all of my guides, my most popular posts, and my current hits.
That’s the most popular clicked-through area on the blog. Not only does it help drive traffic to my most important posts, but it also helps with search engine rankings because of the way I cross-link.
You too can have this on your blog if you use the popularity contest plugin. You’ll Read More ... have to get a developer to modify it so that you can have tabs similar to mine.
9# Yoast SEO plugin
This is probably the simplest tweak you need to make to your blog. In the long run, you’ll notice that it will help your search engine traffic grow by leaps and bounds.
If you are running a WordPress blog, download and install the Yoast SEO plugin. If you are not running a WordPress blog, you’ll have to optimize your site for search engines manually by following the steps in this post.
10# Keep your color scheme and design simple
Different colors have different meanings. Make sure you pick the colors for your blog carefully. They matter, and not just from a psychological standpoint. Some colors make it easy for your readers to read your content, while others don’t.
For example, red text on a black background isn’t as easy to read as black text on a white background.
Keep things simple by creating as much white space within your blog design as possible, and use black for your text color. There’s no need to Read More ... make your design complex because at the end of the day people are coming to read your content. Your goal should be to make your content readable.
Have you noticed that I place an image at the beginning of every blog post? I didn’t always do that, but from testing, I found that it increases the number of people who click through from my blog homepage to a post.
Can you guess by how much? A whopping 37%. All from just one image. If the image you are using is appealing, you’ll see good results. If the image you use sucks, fewer people will click through.
I prefer using stock photography images. You can also use royalty-free images, Read More ... but the quality of those images typically isn’t as high.
Top 10 Hosting Companies of 2017
SiteGround's huge investments in upgrading their entire infrastructure (not only the server side, but also in terms of support) has hugely paid off going into 2017.
They have available packages at affordable prices for pretty much any site on the market - From their cheap SSD shared packages for the small blogger right up to enterprise grad dedicated servers used by some of the biggest brands in the world.
Their insanely quick response times when it comes to support tickets, live Read More ... chat and their US based call center to handle phone support is likely the best support system out of any host.
They've also got some of the cleverest security setups in the industry and have custom developed software to help improve load times & security for WordPress sites.
Though in the past they've been hit with poor management decisions and blasted for under performing, 2016 saw a resurgence in what WPEngine was previously known for:
Their quality support, super fast WordPress load times and expensive (but value for money) pricing.
There is no doubt in my mind when I say WPEngine is THE BEST WordPress host on the planet. They've spent an inane amount of time building custom server setups, security and speed optimizing every element of their process Read More ... so that you get the most optimal WordPress installation out there.
They've also quite clearly invested a fair amount of money into creating an A+ support system which has dedicated, US based employees that have done over 100 hours training in WordPress & server administration to give you the best support there is for any WordPress problem.
Of course the main downfall is they only accept WordPress sites, but that's what makes them so good at what they do! They also don't support email accounts, but you can easily manage that with a $5/Month Google Apps subscription and some DNS configuration.
3# A2 Hosting
Taking the #3 spot on our list and for good reason, is A2 Hosting.
From our testing, A2 has shown to be THE FASTEST shared hosting provider on the market - Yes you'll be paying around $10/Month for a shared host.. but when you getting load times of around 1s, and UNDER? Then it's an obvious choice.
Mix that with there A+ support system that covers 4 different communication methods and an infrastructure that spans 3 continents. A2 is a host that has made waves into the industry in Read More ... the past few years, and continues to be at the forefront of shared hosting server technology.
The only reason they're rated at a 4.5/5 is due to the higher than average pricing plans they go with.. but that's due to the fact that on average, you'd be getting access to a lot more server resources with A2 than any other shared host on the market.
A hosting plan from A2 also comes with free manual site migration by one of their technical team members and free access to the "HackScan" security system that further improves your site's security.
HawkHost's commitment to affordable hosting is the reason it's landed the #3 spot on this list.
Offering SSD shared hosting and VPSs over 3 continents at super affordable prices for those that don't want to break the bank.. HawkHost has gained it's #4 spot on this list by being our most affordable host on the market.
For under $5/Month you can have a fast host, cPanel and unlimited domains with up to 10gb of disk space.
The only reason they don't have 4 stars is due to Read More ... the lack of instantaneous support - They lack a live chat and phone support system, opting instead for solely ticket based support.. Which can lead to longer than usual reply times of up to 2 hours.
StableHost is taking the #5 spot on our list for having probably the best reputation out of all the companies on this list.
Not only do they have some of the most reliable load times and uptimes, but they've also got an almost complete package at a very good price range - Spread out across 3 localities to choose from, in 2 continents.
They have a instantaneous support system, manned by trained technicians. SSD servers running LightSpeed for optimal performance.
They Read More ... also have additional free bonuses when joining, such as a site.pro site builder (for those that want a super beginner friendly solution) and R1Soft daily backups across the site - Other security features include mod_security firewalls and spam protection.
MDD's commitment to affordable hosting is the reason it's landed the #6 spot on this list.
Secure hosting with very well equipped servers, MDD Hosting caters for all types of website requirements. The higher end for pricing on upgrades and the faster of hosting providers for speed.
For under $3.60 monthly you have access to very technical support staff. You also have super fast speeds for your website.
Missing out on a solid 5 stars because of uptime. The uptime is not Read More ... 99.9% and the pricing structure changes often. Very complete service apart from these two factors.
InMotion should change their tag line to "Fast, Reliable and Affordable". So confident with their service they offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee.
Offering free SSD shared hosting super fast servers and all the features you need for a complete hosting service InMotion delivers the goods.
InMotion provides shared hosting for business starting at $5.99. The next plan up is $7.99 and the premium pro plan is $13.99.
To make themselves memorable they claim "Shared hosting Read More ... thats better than our competitors" right on the hosting plan page, very confident but they deliver.
DreamHost stands the test of time and founded in the mid 90's
Superior speed and unrivalled customer service make up the backbone of DreamHost. Try the service to understand how they came up with the business name.
Pricing for the minimum shared plan start at $7.95 thats a little more than most others.
Targeted mainly towards businesses and people that have websites that need the best. They excel at problem solving and speed, providing a very enjoyable hosting experience.
Looking for professional hosting for business or client websites? BlueHost is a solid option.
Part of the Endurance International Group, BlueHost contributes to open source and is a WordPress enthusiast. According to many people BlueHost is shared hosting done right.
Starting plans at $3.95 monthly, options to upgrade range from Plus $5.99 and Prime at $5.99 monthly. Yes they are the same price, this may change.
BlueHost would be eligible for 5 stars for product quality, Read More ... but they fall down with customer support. They are a very popular hosting company with a very busy customer support line making it difficult to provide quality support all the time. Don't let that stop you they deserve a mention in any top 10 list.
HostGator's very popular and has some clever marketing. Putting aside the iconic aligator they do have a hosting solution that works.
HostGator has monthly promotions running all year round. The standard pricing is $3.95 monthly. If you want to have a one stop shop for everything websites HostGator provides just about everything you need in one place.
I have a love hate relationship with HostGator. Ive had good and bad experiences but the good outweigh the bad. HostGator Read More ... is a very well rounded service provider.
10 Free Ways to Get More Visitors to Your Web Site (By ALEX CHRIS)
1# Optimize your web site for Google
Let’s start with Google so that it gets out of our way. I am sure that you all agree that the best and hardest way to get free traffic is by optimizing your web site for Google.
Google holds more than 70% of search engine market share and a place in one of the top positions of Google search, is a great source of free traffic.
The problem is that the competition is huge so you need to have a great web site both in terms of content and SEO if you want to take a part of the pie.
What Read More ... you can do? SEO Audit your web site to make sure that it is well optimized for Google and publish good quality content on a regular basis.
Ok, now that Google is out of the picture, let’s see from which other sources you can get free traffic.
2# Don’t forget about Yahoo and Bing
Yahoo and Bing may not have the market share of Google, but a top position in either Bing or Yahoo can bring in a good number of visitors.
I have web sites that rank on the first positions for popular keywords on both Google and Bing and although the traffic I get from Bing is ¼ of what I get from Google, it is still a good source of free traffic.
What you can do? The first action you need to take is register with Bing Webmaster tools and submit your website. The process is similar Read More ... to Google webmaster tools; if you are not sure what to do you can read this tutorial.
Second, you need to be active in Facebook and Twitter. Bing and Yahoo take into account (in their ranking algorithm) the number of Facebook likes and Tweets so the more likes and tweets your pages have, the greater are the chances of ranking higher in Bing and Yahoo.
3# Add your web site to the Chrome web store
The chrome web store is a fantastic source of free traffic and yet many webmasters are not taking advantage of it. It is very easy to add your web site to the Chrome Store and the traffic you can get is free and continuous. If you are not familiar of the chrome web store read my previous post which also includes a case study on traffic gains.
What you can do? Simply spend 10 minutes of your time, follow the instructions in this tutorial and register your website with the Chrome web store. Read More ... It’s easy and the results in terms of visitors are immediate.
4# Create a mobile version of your web site
More and more users are searching the web using their mobile phones. The numbers of mobile searches are increasing dramatically and you just can’t ignore them.
Recent studies show that 28% of mobile searches are converting within an hour so it is very important to provide for a mobile optimized version as well.
What you can do? Mobilise your web site! Creating a mobile version is not very difficult. You can either use a plugin (if you are on WordPress) or adopt a responsive design.
Also, Read More ... don’t forget about Accelerated Mobile Pages, which is the new hot trend in search marketing. Read my previous article on how to make your website amp friendly.
5# Create an Android native app and publish it to the Google Play Store
Do you know that there are more than 15 million new android users per day? What does this means in terms of traffic?
You can create an android app and publish it to the Google Play store, users will download your app and some will visit your website. I am a big fan of this method for getting free traffic and it works very well.
Read my previous post mobile web site vs native app for some real case studies.
What you can do? Hire a developer or find a service (like appyet.com) Read More ... to create an android application for your website and publish it to the Google Play store.
6# Create an android app and publish to the Amazon store
Amazon had great success with Kindle and they decided to create their own application store (Amazon appstore). The concept is the same as described above with publishing an application on Google Play store.
You create a free app and publish on the Amazon store. People download the app and some of those users will visit your web site to get more information.
What you can do? If you have already created your android app, you can publish on Amazon appstore as well.
7# Guest post on high traffic web sites
Many people believe that guest posting is about getting links but this shouldn’t be the case. The main reason of why you should guest post to another website is the traffic benefits and not getting a link pointing to your website.
A guest post on a trusted website may rank high as well and this will create a steady flow of free traffic to your site.
What you can do? Forget everything you know about guest posting for links and instead make a list of high traffic web sites in your Read More ... niche. Find out who the editors of these web sites are and follow them on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.
Try to connect with them in every valid way you can and when the time is right pitch them with your guest post idea. I know it’s not easy but you should also know that the easy way of guest posting will get you into trouble.
8# Keep your content fresh
Keep it fresh and keep it relevant’, this was Google’s reply on the importance of having fresh content on your website.
New content can get you more free traffic either through more loyal visitors (people will come back to check if you have published new content), more social media mentions or more organic visits (search engines will crawl your website more often).
What you can do? First you need to create a publishing schedule and stick to it and second try to publish good content Read More ... that will make your readers to come back again and again.
9# Engage with Social media (Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, Stumbleupon, YouTube, LinkedIn)
Social media platforms are getting popular day by day and if you don’t have a clear strategy of what you want to achieve, you many end up losing your time without having a real benefit.
In my opinion the best social media platforms in terms of traffic are Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, Stumbleupon, YouTube and LinkedIn.
What you can do? If you don’t have a presence in ALL the above channels, make sure that you start using them. You many need to spend some time figuring Read More ... out how each platform works but they are proven ways to get free visitors to your website.
10# Post a presentation on slideshare.net
Have you heard of slideshare.net? If not go and check it out. Basically it is a website where you can upload and share a presentation. The good news about Slideshare is that it has a lot of traffic so if you make a good presentation it will be seen by thousands of people and some of them will visit your website as well.
What you can do? Create a free account with Slideshare and create an interesting and appealing presentation.
Don’t get disappointed if you don’t succeed from the Read More ... beginning. You may have to try a couple of times before you create a presentation that will get many views.