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Add an ‘About’ Page to Your Blog

One of the ways you can make your blog more engaging for readers is to consider adding a feature that I’ve noticed that some bloggers are increasingly avoiding using – an About page.

About Pages: Two of the most viewed pages on my blog here are my About ProBlogger and About Darren pages – this gives me some indication that people reading this blog are a little curious about what this blog is about and who is writing it. This is the case on most of my blogs.

I can only speak for myself – but one of the things that frustrates me about many blogs is that they lack much in the way of information about the author/s of them. For some blogs this is more important than others (and its a personal preference thing about how much authors choose to reveal of who they are) but I find pages without an About page can be quite frustrating.

Why have an About Page?

There are a number of advantages of About pages that bloggers should consider. [Read more...]

Random Blog Tips – Make Post Titles Page Titles

Related to the last Random Blog Tip on Titles – Incorporate the title of your post into the title of the page.

Again you’ll notice that I’ve done this here at ProBlogger. If you click on this link on one of my blogs for the Canon Rebel Xt digital camera you’ll find that the title of the post is ‘Canon Rebel Xt’. Then if you look at the top of your browser you’ll find that the page itself is titled ‘Canon Rebel Xt’. The title of the post is the page title.

Why is this important? There are two main reasons.

1. The main reason has to do with how Search Engines like Google rank your page. Your page title is of major importance – if it contains your keywords your page is about then it is more likely to rank well in Google if they are in the title.

2. The secondary reason is how your page will appear in Search Engine results. If someone does a search for ‘Canon Rebel Xt‘ in Google and sees my link with that as a page title (its currently ranked 4th) they are more likely to click it than if they see a page that does not contain the keywords they are searching for. For example, before I made this change to my Digicam blog all my pages were titled ‘Digital Photography Blog’ – not the most inspiring thing to click on if you’re searching for information on a specific digital camera.

You don’t have to get rid of your Blog’s title all together – you’ll see here on ProBlogger I title my pages with ProBlogger and the page title. Its up to you, but I’d highly recommend at least including your post title in your page title.

How you do this will vary depending which blogging tool you use. On most there will be a tag that you need to insert in your ‘title tags to include your post title.

Random Blog Tips – Permalink Titles

This will be a quick tip – but a good one. Consider the making the titles of your blog posts Permalinks.

You’ll see I’ve done this to my blog here at ProBlogger both on my main page (where you can click the title of each post to go to the individual page) but also in category pages and individual pages themselves. The reason I do this is twofold – one it makes it clear how readers can get to the individual pages, but two its good for the optimization of your blog in Search Engines to not only have a link to the page but to have it with the keywords of that article (which should be in your title). Its the same principle if people on other sites link to you – they are more powerful links in SEO terms if the links contain the words your post is about.

Blog Design Matters

Last week I asked the question – ‘Does Blog design Matter?’ I asked it because my own blog’s redesign was just around the corner and I was interested in the impact it would have upon my blog.

A number of people have asked me about the change and the impact that it has had on traffic levels to this blog.

It is probably too early to tell (its only been a few days) but the initial indications are that Blog Design does make a difference – at least it has to this blog. Here are some brief reflections on why:

1. Traffic levels have increased from an average of around 260 unique visitors per day to around 500 unique visitors per day (I’m yet to track this over a full week).

[Read more...]

Open Mike on Blog Design

I’m going to open up the comments on this post for anyone to say anything they like on the topic of blog design.

I spent half an hour or so today looking through the blogs nominated for this year’s Bloggies awards. I was particularly looking through them with an eye for the way that these blogs were designed. By no means am I a blog designer (as you can no doubt tell from this blog – which is about to receive a facelift) but I do appreciate good design. There were some beautifully designed blogs in the collection – especially some of the photoblogs which I love surf through.

I was particularly surprised when going through the nominated blogs by the number of them that used very basic template designed blogs – particularly of the blogger variety. They were by no means the majority of blogs – (there was around 10) but for some reason it left me a little surprised. Whilst I have nothing against templated blogs I am someone who is drawn to sites which people have made look a little different.

I was left wondering if perhaps I’m a snob – whilst I always talk about how content is the number one thing a person should work on my reaction to templated blogs perhaps exposes a bias. Of course the bias doesn’t stop me reading templated blogs – there are quite a few on my daily RSS feed list (althouth RSS does tend to cut out the design issues).

I was wondering if I’m alone in my blog snobbery? How important is blog design to you in finding quality blogs? Are aesthetics and design something you look at when you go to a new blog or are you someone who is drawn in by content…or something else? Am I a snob? What is good blog design? What is your favorite blog in terms of design? The floor is yours.

RSS Feeds: Full posts or extracts?

Another tip from Leave It Behind’s Building a Better Blog is to ‘Syndicate your Entire Post‘. Brian writes:

‘Again, in the never-ending effort to ensure happy readers, be sure to syndicate (i.e. send) your entire post through RSS. I follow over 75 weblogs (which is probably a low number on average). With the amount of time it takes to keep up with the constant stream of information, it is a great benefit to be able to read each post in its entirety without a separate trip to the browser. I know it is especially tempting for businesses to try to drive traffic to their site by forcing readers to visit the website in order to read the full article, but inevitably I end up unsubscribing from those sources instead.’

I thought this would make an interesting discussion. what are the benefits and costs of syndicating full posts? Do you?

Whilst Brian gets frustrated with only excerpts making it to RSS feeds I actually get frustrated with full posts. I use Bloglines and like to be able to see as many headings and excerpts on a page as possible. I track over 300 feeds and find myself skimming over and even removing feeds that are too long. I guess it depends how long your articles are – but is there a risk in frustrating your readers by publishing full posts in your RSS feed?

Are there other possible costs/risks in publishing your full RSS feed? Here are a few that come to mind:

[Read more...]

Choosing Complimentary Colors for your Blog – ColorMatch Tool

Color-Match

Have you ever struggled to select a color scheme for a blog? It’s pretty obviously looking at the disaster that I’ve designed here that I do!

So this ColorMatch tool is going to be very handy!

It is designed to help you select a 6 color palette for your blog. All you have to do is select a main color that you like using the slider and it will do the rest and come up with 5 complimentary colors. What could be easier?

Update: Michael from Figby has just posted a comprehensive list of these sorts of color matching tools for the design impaired. There are 14 in total – quality stuff!

The Importance of User Feedback

Michael has a great tip on The Importance of User Feedback over at Figby.com:

‘In retrospect, the conclusions seem obvious: Assuming you want as much feedback as possible from readers, you should make it as easy as possible for them to reach you. You may need to experiment with different comment forms, link locations, or link text to get the best response. Your readers are probably happy to help improve your site—they just want to do it with a minimum of effort.’

Categories and Search Engine Optimization

I would add another point to the last post on why Blogs are Popular with Search Engines and comment that it is not only page structure that works well but often overall site structure. The fact that many blog systems like Word Press and Moveable Type allow bloggers to categorize their posts can actually help Search Engines spider blogs and give them authority.

I get quite a few hits to the category pages of my blogs. For instance, one of the more popular entry pages from search engines on this blog is my Adsense page. This is not because loads of people directly link to this page (I can only find one external link that does) but it is because that particular page is keyword rich (ie the word Adsense is all over it ) – not because I’ve rigged it that way but just because its in virtually every title and first sentence of each post. It is also a page that is linked to from every page on this blog in the menu.

One of the disadvantages that I see with Blogger blogs (without hacking them) is that they do naturally come with a categories option. Instead posts are only archived according to date which means that they miss some of the benefits outlined here.