You’ve got an awesome idea for a blog. Your writing skills are honed, and you’ve spent months researching the competition, analyzing the habits of your target audience, and preparing some content that you just know will be huge.
Unless your goals include a high bounce rate, a severe scarcity of actual conversions and an audience that is more aggravated than intrigued, you’d better concern yourself with the structure of your blog as well. Blog structure entails a lot of things, most importantly:
- URL structuring
- Site navigation
- Page layouts
By thoughtfully structuring your blog, you’ll rank higher in search engine results and – bonus – actually keep your readers after they find your site.
Handling New Content Posts
Maintaining a valuable and appealing blog is all about delivering fresh, interesting content on a regular basis. By demonstrating that you always have something new to offer, your visitors will be enticed to bookmark your blog and come back for more, ideally becoming daily readers.
However, there’s a right way and a wrong way to handle and structure the new content you post to your blog. A typical line of thinking goes like this: “I just spent hours carefully crafting a detailed, attractive, 800-word article. Why not slap the entire thing on the homepage to show it all off?”
The answer is actually pretty simple. When your entire homepage is consumed by a single page of content, your readers may feel overwhelmed. When looking at an unfamiliar blog for the first time, most readers won’t even bother to scroll down before they start to reach for the “back” button. They only care about what’s above the fold, defined as the area that’s immediately visible on a freshly-loaded page before any scrolling occurs.
The solution is to reserve your homepage for article summaries, not full articles. Take an excerpt from each of your posts, position a picture next to each one, and line them up vertically on your homepage. Not only will this be more visually appealing and easier to scan, but it will instantly prove to your readers that your site is packed with many articles, not just a few lengthy ones.
Categorization, Organization and Navigation
Making a good first impression on your audience with an expertly designed homepage won’t matter a whole lot if the deeper portions of your blog are a complete mess. Easy navigation is paramount to your success, and appropriately categorizing your posts is an excellent tool in the pursuit of that goal.
At this point, you might be thinking – “I’ve already chosen my niche. Isn’t that a category in itself?” True enough, but in order to make your site navigable and to ensure that your users find the content you’ve worked so hard to produce, you’ll need to drill things down a little deeper.
Let’s say that your blog’s niche is wireless internet. Your might start by categorizing your posts according to wireless internet service providers, such as Verizon and CLEAR. You could categorize even further by breaking things down by location, making it easy for your readers to know exactly which wireless service providers are available in their areas and ending up with perfect compartments for highly targeted posts such as Los Angeles CLEAR 4g.
Exactly how you organize and present your categories will depend on the type of content you’re offering, but neat drop-down menus with simple, brief, informative titles usually work well. Using a blog host such as WordPress will allow you to tag each of your articles according to the category or categories to which they belong.
Many bloggers don’t give a single thought to the URL structures of their sites, often allowing the structure to be determined by the default settings of their chosen blog host. Unfortunately, these default settings often leave you with URLs that are little more than random strings of numbers, which won’t make any sense to Google’s search-bots nor your readers.
Take control of your blog’s URL structure by deciding on URLs manually. Each URL should contain a string of words describing the content contained on the page, which may be identical to the article’s title. From here, you’ll need to decide whether the URL should contain the date on which the article was posted as well.
In general, this decision will depend on just how time-sensitive your content is. If you’re writing about virtually any tech topic, where the playing field is changing on a near-daily basis, then dating your URLs will help readers determine whether the information contained on the page is still relevant. The same obviously goes for blogs about current events, politics and news.
Other blogs are focused on more “timeless” niches such as recipe collections, creative writing, parenting – things that don’t change a whole a lot from day to day or even year to year. In this case, there’s little point in dating your content via the URL structure.
The Bottom Line
Although this pretty much covers the basics of structuring your blog, there are plenty of more advanced strategies concerning blog structure as well, including blog siloing, the key differences between “posts” and “pages,” and how the structure of your blog directly impacts the best ways to market it.
About The Author
Mitch O’Conner is an online marketer and writer. When he’s not busy testing sites, generating traffic or writing content, he enjoys spending time with his wife and kids, watching TV, playing games or going camping.