Dude, Where’s Your Search Bar?

When I write a blog post, I like to give a little link love and refer to other bloggers who have offer a unique or valuable perspective that adds on to what I’ve written.

Most of the time, I refer back to great posts I remember reading on some of my favorite blogs. However, this practice has become a bit of a challenge lately with some of the newer blog designs I’ve seen.

Although they boast some fantastic features such as prominent email opt-ins and the ability to coax visitors to your service offerings, they are missing one very important navigational feature.

A search bar.

I realize this is perhaps a bit passé to suggest a blog or website should have search capabilities. But sadly, it appears this very important functionality is getting left in the dust in favor of newer, sexier features.

Why is the search bar important?

It helps readers (who could be prospects, partners, bloggers and reporters) quickly and easily find content they are looking for. Simple as that.

I realize that you don’t want a cluttered sidebar and you may want to focus on getting people to follow you on social networks or subscribing to your e-letter. But, why do you want to make it harder on visitors to find what they are looking for?

Hint: you don’t.

If you want to make it easy on visitors to find information on your blog, here are a few other important navigational features that you should include on your blog:

Archives

If you’ve been blogging for awhile, showcase that on your blog with a link to your archives page. Not only does it showcase your blog’s longevity, but it offers another way for a user to find content. Maybe they remember an excellent post you wrote back in January, but can’t recall what it was about. The archives can help with that.

Check out Copyblogger’s archive page for an excellent example to follow.

Categories

You’ve got your blog set up in categories for your blog, right? If so, you should showcase those as well. This gives visitors another way to look through your posts.

It also helps a new visitor quickly learn what you write about.  If you don’t want to want to give up valuable real estate in your sidebar for these, you can include these on your archives page.

Related / Popular Posts

Whether it’s a feature at the bottom of your posts or in the sidebar, showcasing related or popular posts helps encourage readers to dive further into your site.

If you’re using a platform such as WordPress, these are fairly easy to implement with a plugin. Here are some good related post plugins to try. Personally, I use LinkWithin.

Or, you can use a random post widget or popular post plugin in your sidebar as another option.

Do you have these?

Every visitor who comes to your site is a gift. Don’t send them running in the other direction in frustration because they can’t find information quickly and easily.

Take some time to look at your blog from a new visitor’s perspective to see how you can improve the navigation for your blog. I guarantee it will help readers stick around and maybe even come back for more.

What navigational items do you find most valuable when visiting blogs? What do you use on your site?

Image credit: Paul Swansen

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  • Jayme Soulati

    I cannot agree more! In fact, even with a search bar, I had a heckuva time on Mark Schaefer’s blog looking for the post I needed (and failed). Little did I know it was in July; heck, I can’t keep my own schedule let alone someone else’s posting schedule!

    I NEED a search bar; absolutely must have it. I use it for my own blog posts, too! Great idea and oh, link love is so appreciated! Thanks for that!

    • http://www.flybluekite.com Laura Click

      I’ve had trouble finding stuff on Mark’s blog too. So, it not only has to be a search bar, but one that works really well – especially if you have a ton of content. I think that’s why categories and archives are also helpful additions. So, if you can’t find it from search, you can find it other ways.

      And yes, I use the search bar for my own blog ALL. THE. TIME. A Must have for sure!

      • http://www.spinsucks.com/ Lisa Gerber

        Did yours know, if you are searching for your own content to link to in new posts you can do that directly in the link to dialog box? It searches your own content based on keywords. I only just realized it does that and am in LOVE. :)

        • http://www.spinsucks.com/ Lisa Gerber

          Did you guys know. Not did yours know

        • http://www.flybluekite.com Laura Click

          Yes, I definitely do that when writing my own posts. Love that function. I us the regular search bar on my site when I’m trying to reference something.

  • http://twitter.com/EleanorPie Eleanor Pierce

    A-freaking-men!

    This drives me crazy.

    • http://www.flybluekite.com Laura Click

      I know, right?! I just can’t understand why search bars are disappearing from sites.

  • http://www.spinsucks.com/ Lisa Gerber

    I like to see the Twitter handle easily so we can tweet the posts and attribute!

    • http://www.flybluekite.com Laura Click

      Yes! Also very important.

  • http://www.vieodesign.com/ VIEO Design

    Amen! I love a good search bar and even use the search on our own site from time to time. Believe it or not, I’ve had some clients resist having one added. We can only push back so much, but why wouldn’t a site owner want one? Even with great navigation and easy to click categories, it is a help to just be able to search.

    • http://www.flybluekite.com Laura Click

      Here here! It used to be that the search bar was very prominent – at the top of the site or something like that. I get that it doesn’t need to be the most prominent feature, but it still needs to be there. Must have!

      • http://www.vieodesign.com/ VIEO Design

        I think as Google and other Search Engines have gotten better at sending visitors to internal pages, website owners think less about it now than they used to. Still, with great software like WordPress and various widget positions – a site owner could feasibly put the search bar at different spots on different pages throughout the site depending on page content. Again, great point about the Search!

  • Dan Palma

    Couldn’t agree more! Wanted to offer some advice, though. If you run into a site without a bar that you really want to search, you can use Google Chrome to do it (not marketing for them; just the browser I use).

    Type:

    site:[site name] [search function]

    For example, for this site it would look like:

    site:flybluekit.com Twitter marketing

    or

    site:flybluekit.com “Twitter marketing” if I wanted to search those exact terms.

    Of course, your advice is ideal, but when you don’t have the option….

  • http://www.flybluekite.com Laura Click

    Great tip, Dan. I actually do that quote a bit. It’s just too bad to have to go to that extra step. It’s so helpful if search is available on the site.

    Thanks for the tip!
    Laura

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