I know you might find this hard to believe, but I actually don't know everything about fashion blogging. Crazy, right? (Kidding, kidding…) I've been working at IFB for over a year, but I am constantly learning new things about out community, the Internet(z), and the business of blogging. Lately, I've become really interested in seeing how much I can do to make my own blog reflect all that I'm learning and trying to encourage within our community. I know you know, this, but it isn't easy! With a busy life and so many things going on, it's easy to lose track of the little things I've been meaning to do to improve my site.
This week, the task I've given myself is to tidy up my pages and widgets, and employ some tools to encourage readers to stick around longer on my site. There are a lot of creative ways you can do this, and you don't necessarily need to use all of them at once. As with most tools and tricks in fashion blogging, it's about trial and error.
Use a “popular posts” widget on your sidebar.
Depending on your platform, you might use either a widget (Blogger) or plugin (WordPress) for this feature. This is especially useful for drawing new readers into your deeper posts and greatest hits, who may be visiting your site for the first time. As they scroll through your most current content, they will also have easy access on the side of your site to see what posts have been most successful, or what you're “most known for,” if you will.
Install a “you might also like” widget that appears under each post.
This is something I have been meaning to add to my blog for, oh, I don't know – years. Seriously, what's my problem?! A quick Google search lead me to two oh-so-easy to install widgets: LinkWithin and OutBrain. Both function in the same way, using keywords and tags in your posts to aggregate “similar” content in thumbnail links below each post.
I chose OutBrain because as soon as you log in and give the tool a chance to crawl your site, you can monitor the success of your links with click-through rates and page-views through a dashboard, and adjust the settings.
This site has easy-to-follow installation directions for Blogger, but both LinkWithin and Outbrain have instructions for Blogger, WordPress, and Typepad on their homepages.
Create category pages along the top of your site.
I just recently expanded my “pages” tabs include the most popular types of posts I have on my blog: Personal Style, Music, Travel, and Reader Requests. (I already have About, Contact and Press pages.) I did this for two reasons, the first being that I wanted to encourage new readers to explore the different types of content my site has, and the second is to easily direct readers to the content they most want to see, and then stay a while to check it out.
I've created the same category pages for Eat, Sleep, Denim as well, to help readers find denim reviews, blogger denim style, and trend stories more easily. For both WordPress and Blogger, I created these pages by using categories (WordPress) and tags (Blogger). Go to a post that uses the tag or category that you want to use, and then click on it, opening up a URL that leads to all the posts with this tag or category. Next, create a new page on your site that redirects to that URL.
Using these widgets and tools isn't about tricking your readers into staying on your site. Implementing these tools and widgets is way to make navigation of your site more fluid, and access to your best content and the kinds of content your readers will want more of – easier. Even during the week before Halloween we're all about treats, not tricks!