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5 Ways To Keep Your Blog Design An Effective Marketing Tool

Having a custom blog is a great thing, but if left unmaintained the blog can become less effective as a marketing tool. Below are some quick and easy tips to follow to keep your blog as effective as possible.

1. Kill the Sidebar Clutter

One major problem I see with many blogs is overly cluttered sidebars full of widgets, badges, affiliate banners, blogrolls and so on. By having tons of items like this in your sidebar, you are diluting the effect any of the elements might have and you are also sending people away from your blog, which hurts your “time spent on site” statistics.

Every element in your sidebar should help keep visitors on your site and provide value to your readers. Even ads should be relevant, of quality and kept to a minimum. I highly recommending looking at each item in your sidebar and ask yourself “do I really need this”? I guarantee you can cut 75 percent of the elements in most blog sidebars and have a very positive effect on the blog.

Remember, the most important thing on your blog is the content and it should be the focus. You want your readers to keep reading and stay on your blog as long as possible. Don’t distract them with too many other elements.

2. Prioritize Blog Elements

Over time, the clutter talked about above, adding new features and moving things around can disturb what should be the proper hierarchy and placement of certain blog elements. For example, adding lots of new pages could make a navigation bar messy and important pages could get lost amongst all the new pages or become too hard to find.

Again, the sidebar is another common example. With added clutter, elements such as a popular blog posts widget, search bar, and archives (which are important elements), might get pushed down to a less prominent area because of newly added items.

You should re-examine your bog every month or two to make sure important elements, pages, features and so on, can be found quickly and easily and are in the most appropriate places possible.

3. Customize Plugin Styling

Plugins for blog platforms like WordPress can be amazing, but often are not styled well and can make elements of your blog stand out or not easily seen. After installing a plugin try customizing the styling so it matches your site and enhances the usefulness of the plugin. For example, a plugin that adds social media buttons after a post could be customized to have better looking buttons that match your site and stand out better.

Another example would be a related posts plugin that just adds standard text links. You could style it to fit inside a more prominent box, change the link colors, font and so on to match your blog better. Little changes like this will help bring all of your blog elements together to create a consistently styled and balanced blog design, whose elements become more effective and useful to your blog over the long-term.

4. Less Ads is More

It’s very common to see blogs with way too many ads, especially in the sidebar. Having too many ads is going to make each of the sponsors get less clicks, which means they may not renew. I recommend no more than x6 125×125 ads in the sidebar or 1-3 larger size ads, which should be placed above the fold so users can see them without scrolling down.

Another prime spot is above or below all blog posts or possibly an advertisement in the header or footer. Just keep in mind too many ads will have a negative effect on your blog and your sponsors. If you have less ad spots you can also charge more for them, since exposure will increase for each sponsor.

5. Create Paths to Content

As you add more content to your site, older posts tend to be forgotten, but older posts can be put to much better use with a little love. You can keep your old posts alive by linking back to them whenever possible. Whenever you write a new post try and think of old posts you can link back to that relate to it.

When linking back to an old post always try and use an important keyword phrase the old posts targets as the anchor text of the link. This will help readers understand what they will find if the click the link and it can actually help boost your search engine rankings for the old post by helping search engines better understand what the post is about.

Other things you can do are: add an archives, add related posts at the end of blog posts, tag old posts and create new posts specifically written to link back to old content.

Always keep your old posts in mind and when writing new posts think about how relevant or useful the post will be a year or two from now. It also never hurts to go back and update old entries to make the content more up to date.

Keep these tips in mind and your blog will always be performing at its best for you!

Gino Orlandi is a designer and online marketing expert who offers a full-range of blog services including custom blog designs and blog consulting services.

Bogdan

Bogdan is the founder of Top Design Magazine. You can find him in Bucharest-Romania so next time you want to drink a beer there and talk about web and stuff, give him a message.

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