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Blogging Tips: First Impressions Count

The following is a guest post by and an excerpt from her popular book, Blogging Tips, Tips Bloggers Won’t Tell You About Blogging.

There are several “first impressions” your blog makes as it struggles to attract and hold on to readers. Few of those first impressions come directly from your blog’s design and layout.

Search Engine Results: The first impression most people get of your blog is found within search engine results. They see a post title, blog title, and content excerpts around the keywords of their search terms.

Blog Feed Aggregator: An aggregator is a blog or website which displays titles or post excerpts from various blogs. Aggregators usually list your blog title, post title, and first 100-300 words of your post.

Feed Reader: A feed delivered to a feed reader displays the content as text, with few images, and none of your blog’s design. Depending upon how the feed reader is set, it showcases the blog title, post title, first 100-400 words of your post or the full post content, if the blog owner has set the feeds to full. Typically, the post title and first 100-400 words are the first impression.

From Other Bloggers: Another first impression a potential visitor gets comes from the words other bloggers have to say about you. It could be a simple link to your post title, or a paragraph or two recommending your blog and/or your blog post. The information in and around the link can make or break a reader’s decision to click through to your blog.

Front Page: Many web designers design the front page of the blog before the rest of the pages, creating a gateway to your blog. This is old “print-think”. Nowadays, visitors may arrive on any page on your blog. If they get lost navigating, or need more information, they will click to your blog’s front page. Every page, including the front page, must visually represent the purpose and intent of the blog. The front page must also still be the gateway to all the categories, sections, and pages of your blog.

Single Post Pageview: Most visitors arrive on a blog post page. The first impression is to the visual presentation, blog title, post title, and content, followed by other visual images. It must also offer easy-to-find navigational aids to help them find related and more content.

About Page: More than anything on your blog, your blog’s About page cements the first impression with information on the blog’s purpose and intent, as well as the blogger’s expertise. If they get past the visual presentation, they will look for more information about the author.

Category Page Views: The page views of your category, tags, and archives showcase the content within your blog in related groups. The first impression of category pages are the post titles, followed by the first 100-200 words of the post content. Most visitors scan the post titles looking for information related to their needs.

Go through each of these “first impressions” to see what kind of an impression your blog makes on the web.


Lorelle VanFossen blogs about blogging and WordPress on and the , and is the author of Blogging Tips, Tips Bloggers Won’t Tell You About Blogging.

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Comments

  1. Alex Ion says:

    Well I guess those things were pretty obvious.

    I don’t find this article very useful !

  2. Mahala says:

    Some good points to consider, thanks Darren!

  3. Good post, especially for beginners. Thanks!

  4. narcolept says:

    Good points on design. Most seem to overlook oldschool or traditional design foundations, much like people trying to market new sites could care less about traditional advertising and marketing principles, even though they apply just as well.

  5. This is not so much about design as the way people view and use your blog that most don’t think about, spending more energy on the “look” and not the use of your blog’s design and content.

    We need to think about all the ways our blogs are used and viewed in order to make a good first impression with our blogs.

  6. And again, this ephasizes the importance of grabbing your readers’ attention in the first few hundred words – good advice, too easy to overlook.

  7. James says:

    actually i would think that the single most important first impression is the first few words of your post that brought visitors in the first place. If you can capture their attention with your writing & prose, the others are not as important.

  8. Grace says:

    I think the first post is also important; to let readers know what the blog is about.

  9. karenlim says:

    I agree with Grace

    May I request if anyone is willing to participate in mutual review of blogs and suggest points of improvement?

    Sometimes it takes another person to point to us some feelings we may have missed on our blog.

    Who likes me to review their blog?
    My own blog is at http://www.secretofunlimitedprosperity.com

    You can email me your blog address at [email protected]

    Cheers
    Karen

  10. What do you guys think about the use of humor in the About Me sections? About Me has probably had some of the most hits on my site, and I’m not sure how much information I should put in it.

  11. Manisha says:

    The blog is quite good, will be more useful for the newer candidate who recently had entered to make money from their website.

  12. Jeffro2pt0 says:

    All of these tips provided seem like common sense but I am sure they will help out the newcomer. For whatever reason, my blogs About page seems to have the most hits out of any other page on my blog. I don’t know if the bots keep crawling that page, or if that many people are stumped as to the blogs initial purpose and they need to read that specific page. Perhaps they just want to know a little more information about the author or the site.

    Bloggers should make each post whether it is short and sweet or one of those biography type posts highly important. The first hurdle is adding a descriptive yet captivating title, then your next task is to make the first paragraph entice the reader to read the entire article.

    Another good tip is to stay on topic. Don’t create a software blog and then talk about hardware. This makes the reader scratch their heads and wonder why the author is doing such a thing.

    Although I believe content is king, design and presentation certainly helps. In today’s world, there is no excuse why a blogs presentation shouldn’t at least look somewhat decent.

  13. Thanks for a snapshot look at the different impression mediums.

    I was reading What’s Your Blog Really About by Copyblogger the other day. It relates to the about page importance as you referenced.

    However, I tend to agree with Brian Clark that the about page should sell the blog not necessarily the author:

    In most other cases, however, a story about the blog author is not the most effective approach.

    With that said, I guess it is going to be determined by the blog, author, and the target audience.

  14. Teft says:

    Good points. Makes you stop and think about a visitors perspective.

  15. Brandon J says:

    I’ve been told that the way I come off and the name of my site Money for Military can be considered “spammy.” And yes, “spammy” was the actual wording twice. I don’t really want to change it because it’s so literal. I blog about money for military members.

    Anyways, first impressions for military members can really have an impact on readers. I’m working on advertising my site on Myspace and in public without sound “spammy.”

    Brandon J
    Money for Military
    Money for Military

  16. Lorelle says:

    Brandon: I don’t know if it sounds spammy, but make sure the rest of your content isn’t so it supports the title you’ve chosen. It’s a fine line to walk.

    Grace: I’m a little confused about what you said. Yes, the “first” post you publish is important as it sets a tone for you and for the readers who discover your first post, but within a month, few people will even know which post was “first” off the block. The About and Contact pages are consistent sponsors of your blogging intent, as is the rest of your blog’s design and content. EVERY post counts, not just the first.

    In fact, how many of you really had your blog purpose defined when you wrote your first post? Huh? How many still have the sample of the first post with a comment from Mr. WordPress still sitting there on your blogs? Hmmm? :D

    While I may lecture “get your purpose before you blog”, few people start a blog with a clear purpose and it usually changes. First posts are worthless for defining your blog in the big picture.

    Remember, you are only as good as your most recent blog post. :D

  17. wu zhiyong says:

    Justified, I translate it into Chinese

Trackbacks

  1. [...] I recall a study being done a year or so ago that stated that the first impression of a person can last up to six months. It is in my opinion that a similar concept can be applied to a blog. If I don’t like how a blog writes, odds are I’m not coming back for awhile. A Blog’s first impression is its greatest impression. [...]

  2. Does your blog structure and design attract and hold on to readers?…

    As a blogger, one of the thoughts that is always playing at the back of my head is whether the structure and design of my blog represents me or my intent. I am constantly changing and rearranging and developing and improving my blog content and layout …