E is for Elements of a Good Blog

Our class members spend a good deal of time adding elements to their blogs for reader convenience and to make the blog more "sticky" with search engines. Arrange your sidebar elements in an order that's most useful to the viewer. I promised yesterday I would bump this post up, so here's the information I use over and over.

Let's take a look at the sidebar on this blog.

1. We start with a short description of what this blog is about - it's a quick profile.

2. Because the blog is the public newsletter for our blog book tour classes, many of the posts are useful to others interested in our topic, and so we have a share/bookmark button right beneath the profile. This is so readers can click and easily send the information on this blog to their friends on Facebook or any of a number of other online communities they might participate in. Click on the button, and you'll see the drop-down menu. This is an AddThis button which happens to be the neatest and most effective. There's a reason it's rated #1.  A later addition is via Blogger at the bottom of each post.

3. Next we make sure it's easy for our readers to engage with us on Facebook and Twitter. Those are basic links to our sites there, but you can also find pretty third-party widgets which add sparkle to the blog. I just haven't decided which one I like best yet. Always have your assorted links and sites cross-referenced on all your sites. Everyone is trying to connect at many levels these days.

4. Then make sure you have a few "subscribe" links for readers who use aggregators to keep track of their favorite blog updates. See the ugly RSS feed buttons in the sidebar? I'm looking for a nicer one like this. This symbol is almost as recognizable as the golden arches.

5. Google Friend Connect essentially works in a similar albeit limited way (and also has a certain psychological pull when many people follow the blog). Networked Blogs is another way to get a notice when someone updates a blog - it feeds through to Facebook and Twitter automatically. 

Start with a few of these basics up high in the sidebar of your blog, and then add more as you see features you like on other blogs you visit.  Why up high? Sometimes your readers are in a hurry and will only read the first post, so make it easy for them to share or stay connected by putting the handiest tools at their disposal. Don't make them search all over your blog. They'll appreciate you for it, and come back for a visit.

Even if you're not really sure what all these widgets, gadgets, and buttons are about, place them on your blog anyway. Many of your readers know how to use them, and what we're talking about is service and convenience to them.

The rest of the way down the sidebar? Lots of blogrolls - clickable links to sites that you like and that support your blog focus.

You might have an archive link which you'll want to collapse into a neat and tidy button. Intersperse other information and links as you wish lower down the sidebar.

You can also add a gadget on Blogger that magically makes all your most popular blog posts appear. See it at right? I also have links to related information like the Quickest Blog Book Tour Guide Ever.

The last item on your list should be a hit counter and I prefer being able to see the visitor count. There can be any number of other items, but these are the very essential ones in that order.

And don't forget a contact link - if you don't want your email address on the front page, then consider adding a contact page under your header that readers must open for additional  information about how to reach you. It can be most frustrating for a reader seeking more information about you and your books (or services or other products), to not find a way to reach you.

And remember that you have lots of options for additional information categorized under Pages underneath your header. I've even included the A-Z Challenger participants under their own tab!

This post was last published on July 17, 2010. I'm now going to change the date so it appears on April 6, 2011. Because I can, and so can you.


Jean Katherine Baldridge said...

very cool! nice to meet you!
jean :)

RaShelle Workman said...

Great info, Dani. Thanks!

Unknown said...

Great tips! I'm probably messing up more than half of these! *scurries off to check blog* :-)

alberta ross said...

great post - I have just started tarting up my blog sites this last few weeks - trying to understand how these gadgets and widgets work and where to get them from- and where to put them - thanks

Alison Pearce Stevens said...

Lots of great information. Thanks!

Unknown said...

I still need an RSS button.... Thanks for reminding me!