List titles carefully for an effective blog layoutBy: John M.
When laying out your blog, you want to list titles carefully not only so your visitors can read the current post, but so they can also easily find your other posts.
While an archive can be handy, your readers have to click around by date. Since most blog posts have little to do with the date, this means you readers are really clicking around blindly if they are trying to find something in your archive.
There are several alternative techniques available for presenting title lists to your users. Depending on the focus of your blog, one of the following is sure to provide an excellent way to list titles in a convenient format for your readers.
List titles in a sidebar on your layout
Most blogging platforms have a feature that will list recent blog posts in an area on the sidebar of every page. This is a great way to make your recent posts visible to your visitors and to encourage them to read more of your blog. By organizing your recent post list as titles rather than dates, you are increasing the odds that your readers will find something they find interesting. Be honest, you are probably more likely to be interested in “sizzling hot images for your blog” than you are in “February 2010”.
List titles near the top of your layout
When you have a title list to put in your sidebar, try to keep it near the top of your layout. This way, the reader sees the list of titles when they first get to your blog. The only thing more important than a list of post titles would be your RSS and signup form, and maybe a little advertising space.
List titles by recent posts
One way to present a list of titles is by age, showing a list of your most recent 5 to 20 posts. This has the benefit of changing frequently, with new posts being added at the top and older ones scrolling of the bottom. The more often your content is updated, the more likely your visitors are to come back again and again. And as we all know, the best traffic is repeat traffic.
List titles by top posts
Another way to present a list of titles is by popularity, showing your most popular 5 to 20 posts in a list. This has the benefit of showing the content that is the most likely to be interesting to your visitors, further increasing the chance they will click more and read more. The more relevant and more popular the links on your main page, the more relevant your blog will be to your readers.
Tag clouds don’t list titles…
But they sure do list the keywords your readers are looking for! Make sure you tag your posts and use the tag cloud to as another way for your readers to find what they’re looking for.
The big idea for listing titles
So far, all of these methods have been template / layout based, where you out the right widgets in the sidebar and then they appear on every page. There are hundreds of plug-ins available, each with different widgets and features. Pick your favorite and use it. Since they are plug-ins, you can always try a different one later.
And now we’re going to get to the big idea to list titles.
List titles of top posts on a separate page
In your template sidebar, put both your 5 top posts list, and then also put your 5 most recent posts list.
Then create two separate pages in your blog, one for Top Posts and one for Most Recent Posts.
On the Top Posts page, display the most popular posts from your most popular posts plug-in, as a list of abstracts w/ titles, abstracts, and possibly thumbnails.
On the Most Recent posts page, put in the built in recent posts that WordPress supports in the same format. This is probably currently your main page template.
This now gives you TWO new top level menu entries: Top Posts and Recent Posts. It also frees up your main blog home page… and why would you want your main blog home page freed up? So you can produce a killer landing page that is SEO optimized for the keywords and niche that you want to focus on! And also to make it a static page so the search engines can rank it and you can work to improve its ranking using focused keyword marketing campaigns.
All of this will require some fiddling around in WordPress, but it’s worth it. If you don’t know how to do this work, you can Google and find tutorials, and we will have future posts on how to set up your blog and templates.
So what are you waiting for? There are so many ways to list titles that there’s really no reason not to ad a title list to your template layout today.