I have stressed over and over in the Inbound Accelerator the importance of quality content. To be effective, a business blog needs to meet five key criteria every time. And investing in great writers pays off.
But all of that great writing and quality content is wasted if your business blog’s design isn’t optimized to make it easy to read and easy to use.
Blog Design Mistakes That Turn Readers Off
1. No main image - or no images at all
Blog posts with images get 94 percent more views than those without. (Source).
Readers, including both consumers and B2B buyers, are increasingly drawn to visual content, with several of the fast-growing social media networks dedicated nearly entirely to images.
No one is excited about staring down page after page of uninterrupted text, especially online. Include images in your blog posts, including both a main image to capture the attention at the top of the page and additional images throughout the text, depending on the format of the post.
2. Poor headline formatting
Don’t hide your headlines. Headlines and subheads are like roadmaps directing your reader through the post. Use a headline hierarchy that draws them in with a bold statement at the top of the page and guides them through the rest of the post.
Without formatting elements such as headlines and subheads (plus bulleted or numbered lists and block quotes), you are again presenting readers with a daunting block of unbroken text.
Headlines are also key locations for incorporating keywords and phrases, as search engines may give a higher priority to text with an H1, H2 or H3 formatting.
3. No post previews
If you are blogging at the frequency you should be (Blog Regularly, Blog Often to Boost Traffic & Leads), your library of blog posts is growing rapidly. Don’t force readers to scroll past the full text of today’s blog to get to the one posted yesterday.
Instead of displaying your entire most recent article on your blog’s homepage, display only an excerpt and an image from several of your most recent posts. This will allow visitors to scan some of your blog’s content and give them a choice of what to read first.
4. No way to sort content
Again, if you are blogging several times a week, within a few months you’ll have quite an inventory built up. A reader looking for posts on a specific topic is likely to give up before they can scroll through all of the posts in your preview.
Instead, offer a “topic” menu somewhere on your blog’s home page allowing a one-click access to a list of posts tagged with a specific topic. Look at the right sidebar on this page (or on our blog’s homepage)—see that “Popular Topics” box? There you have a convenient way to sort our nearly 500 blog posts to find the ones that cover the topic you are most interested in right now.
5. No search box
Don’t limit your readers to sorting by the main topics of posts. Including a search box on your blog page can help them find more specifically what they are looking for. Depending on how you structure it, the search could be limited to the blog itself, or could search the entire website, which might also help your readers find landing pages for downloadable assets they can use.
6. Long load times
Online readers are impatient. Aren’t we all? If your blog post takes too long to load, your visitor will bounce and go elsewhere. Test your blog to see how long it takes — more than two seconds means it’s time to make improvements.
7. Cluttered sidebar
While there are a few things you need to include in your sidebar (which I’ll talk about in Part 2 of this article next week), keep it to the essentials and have a clear understanding of each item’s purpose.
If you clutter it up with an endless list of widgets, not only will readers be able to find the most important ones (CTAs, subscription box, and search box), but it takes away from the clean professional appearance you want your business blog to have.
Don’t let these blog design missteps, or the other business blog blunders outline in our ebook 15 Business Blog Mistakes & Easy Fixes limit your content marketing potential. Correct them ASAP.
What do you encounter in business blogs that turns you away or keeps you from coming back? Share your pet peeves so we can all avoid them!