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:
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.
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.
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