Complete Blog Home Page Optimization Guide: Engineer Your Blog for Maximum Conversion!

home page optimization guide new

Ever landed on a blog home page and immediately clicked browser back button?

Do you hope that others don’t do the same when landing on your blog?

40% readers exit the site in about 3 seconds if they are not able to find what they are looking for.

Most likely your home page is the most visited page on your blog. Even if someone lands on one of your content posts from Google search results, they are likely to click on your homepage link to know more about your blog.

Wifi-millionaire

While experimentation is a key to find out what works well for your readers, here are 12 blog home page optimization tips that will give you an edge over majority of other blogs.

I have included an infographic at the bottom of this post to show all these points in one snapshot.

FIRST, The Important Question to Answer

If you have created your blog using WordPress, one of the first thing you can do is setting your blog home page to be either a static page or dynamic one listing blog posts.

For the uninitiated, static page is one that does not change, while a blog post listing page lists your blog posts in reverse chronological order, showing your latest blog post at the top.

setting blog home page to a static page in WordPress

Setting static home page in a WordPress blog

An important question to ask is,

“Should I make my blog home page static or dynamic?”

There are sizeable bloggers that set their home page to be blog post listing, and also many bloggers that set their home page to a well designed static page.

Both static and dynamic pages have advantages and disadvantages, which I will list below, it may help you decide what you want to have.

The answer though primarily depends on,

  1. your blog’s objective
  2. your blog’s niche

I have one of my blogs listing latest posts and a the other using a static home page (two different niches) – and I see good response for each of them.

If the primary objective of your blog is to build brand you may consider having a static page.

If you have set a conversion funnel for your reader to get into, then static page may be a better option to go for.

If the content you serve in blog niche is more transactional (focusing on news and events, for instance) then you may do better with blog post list as home page.

If you want to monetize your post with ads and increase page views, having a blog post list as home page may be the option to consider.

Let us look at how these two options fare out –

Static blog home page: Advantages and Disadvantages

Static page: ProsStatic page: Cons
Reader gets snapshot of WHAT and HOW of your blogNeed some amount of design skills
You can control user experience - for instance let new users go to START pageNeed to know how to brand well
Easy to collect email address of reader, for email marketingNeed to focus on usability and user experience

Dynamic blog home page: Advantages and Disadvantages

Dynamic page: ProsDynamic page: Cons
No design skills needed at allNot very impressive, may look a bit scattered - not an easy way for first time visitor to know value proposition of your blog
Home page is always fresh, giving new information to repeat-visitorsMust have regular blog post content, else gives the impression that blog is dead
Higher conversion, if advertising monetization is your goalExplicit efforts needed to get readers email address for email marketing

If you are planning for a new blog, setting blog post listing and home page is probably the easiest and best way to start.

Once you start getting traffic you’ll understand more about your readers (using tools such as Google Analytics), or by directly engaging with them. This will give you an idea as to what information your readers need about your blog on your static home page. Then you can plan to have a static page, if you feel the need.

If you already have your own blog, you may want to include static page with some experimentation for better impact. A/B testing and direct surveys are two ways to find out variations you can test in order to optimize your static page.

With that decision out of the way, let us look at crucial elements of blog home page that help your readers better (and in turn help you achieve your objective).

Blog home page tip #1: BLOG HEADER

It all starts with your blog header section.

Imagine your blog home page like a person.

The head is an important part of identifying a person – the blog header serves the same purpose. It helps reader get a sense of what is your blog all about, in a glance.

The blog header section can be an image or text – but the title is what your reader looks at to understand what the site is all about.

Title usually is your domain name. And for some reason if it is a bit cryptic, consider having a great sub-title.

What makes a sub-title great?

It has to serve an important purpose.. it should scream the benefit your ideal reader will get from your blog.

On a static home page, this could be the heading. At the time of writing this blog post, here’s how the static home page of this blog looked:

static homepage heading

Keep a sub-title or a main heading that shows main benefit or promise.

While there is no sub-title below blog name (which is pretty much self-explanatory), the heading more or less indicates the benefit.

Note: As part of experimentation, the heading above is a teaser line, and not direct-benefit driven statement. You need to basically experiment to see what impacts more for your blog.

Blog home page tip #2: THE FIRST IMAGE

If you choose to have an image (which is highly recommended) – the first image is like the face of a person you are meeting – it makes for the first impression, and sets up the identity of a person firmly.

If you have a static blog home page – it most probably is your photo. This is a great way to build brand and connect with your reader.

If you have a dynamic page, take care as to what image your reader sees first. You can have it in the header section, or a separate about-me section in the sidebar above-the-fold showing a small photo of yours – so there is immediate connect when your reader lands on the home page. See an example of this in the next section.

Tip: Make sure your images are light so page loads faster. You can run your images through the tinypng.com service to reduce size drastically without impacting the quality of image. Using WPSmush WordPress plugin is another way of doing this. Google’s algorithm takes into account page load time while assigning a Page Rank.

In addition, you can use a caching plugin such as W3 Total Cache to cache images.

Blog home page tip #3: “WHAT’S IN IT FOR ME?”

about me example quicksprout

The about-me page should clearly explain the benefits your readers can expect, and connect with them on a personal level.

About/About Me/About Us page is a great page for the reader to know exactly what you have in offer for her on the blog.

This has to be above-the-fold and entice your reader to click and find out more. A photo of yours is a great way to attract eye balls to this section, and a benefit-driven teasing first line would be required for them to want to click on it and land on your about-me page.

Above-the-fold simply refers to the visible area your reader can see on the screen without scrolling the page down.

It is almost given that if your content is great then the user will want to find out more about yourself (the ‘face’ behind the awesome blog). Your reader will most likely click on the home page and then land on to your about-me page.

Keep your about-me page around your story in brief and around 1-2 most critical benefits your reader can expect from your blog.

A background story that lead to the birth of your blog is a great story to have on about-me page. Most people start a blog as a solution to a problem or to share their skill/knowledge that helps people – and usually triggered from an incident or situation. Get this story out on the about-me page.

You could be thinking, “Shiv, I don’t have a story”..

Everyone has a story.

My first (professional) blog is about a project management certification exam. I decided to create the blog after struggling for years to prepare for it, coming across many problems and managing to get past them. Knowing exactly the kind of problems others like me were facing, I thought that sharing my insights would help them.

Sure enough, it became useful enough for people to generate me a passive income that surpassed my day-job income.

If you looked hard enough you’ll find events and situations that shaped your decision to start your blog. This is what you’ll use for your About-me page.

A good story helps you connect with your reader. This brings forth the feeling of ‘if-he-can-do-this-I-can-too’ in her and nudges her to take action based on the content you share on the blog.

Highlight crucial benefits you are going to share on your blog (removal of pain or expectation of gain) and do not miss to add a call to action (CTA).

You can and should use CTA in many places throughout your blog. We’ll see more about this in a bit.

Share your contact details (email/Skype), and links to social profiles such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter on your about-me page so your reader can connect with you. Do this early in your blogging journey and you’ll build a loyal community pretty soon.

This is also a great place to add an opt-in form as well (more on this later).

Blog home page tip #4: EASE OF NAVIGATION

Visitors read the page when they can find what they are looking for. Someone landing on the blog home page is looking for an answer to one question –

“What can I get from this blog?”

In other words, the value proposition you have for your readers should be evident on the home page.

Apart from the copy itself you have on the page (in case of static home page) navigation menu is one place that helps user find an answer to the above question.

Adding category specific links is one way to convey your value proposition.

ease of navigation search engine watch

Ease of navigation can be provided through menu items that are logically segregated, like categories.

Start page and About-me pages linked from menu (or sidebar) is another way.

contact about krista rae

Start, About and Contact pages should be clearly visible (ideally above the fold) and accessible.

Blog home page tip #5: SOCIAL PROOF

Social Proof is a great ‘persuasion technique’ to get people to act. How can you add this component to your blog?

You can do in several ways. For instance, if you like your reader to LIKE your Facebook page, add a Facebook page snippet. Adding blog visitor counter is another way. So is adding overall follower count (across Facebook, Pinterest, G+ etc.).

social proof

Showing social proof reduces hesitancy and increases acceptance and conversion.

Blog home page tip #6: ‘START HERE’ PAGE

Look at your blog as a journey for reader looking for something to eventually getting it. Visualize them getting through each stage and reaching goal and build your site structure around it.

start here quicksprout

Start Here page link should be the first thing reader sees on the page. So it deserves first menu item place.

Over a period of time with so much content on your blog it is easy for the reader to get lost, or worst, feel overwhelmed. This is a surefire recipe for losing repeat visits.

Giving a useful Start Here page is a great way to explain how to navigate your blog in order to get the most out of it.

Have the Start Here page linked right at the top of the page (potentially first menu item). In the Start page explain in simple steps (and with links) various pieces of content your reader can consume to get to their goal. You can get creative and do this visually as well.

Blog home page tip #7: LEAD MAGNET

One of the primary ways to build aspirational value around your blog is to give away a lead magnet.

lead magnet in content

Lead magnets are mouth-point to email marketing. If you don’t yet integrated email marketing you are leaving a lot of money on the table. NOW is the best time to start.

What is a lead magnet?

A lead magnet, also called ethical bribe, is the first step towards their goal – a small piece of solution that your reader values that you can give away for free. It’s the first step towards his goal which your blog will help him reach.

For instance, the goal of my project management blog reader is passing her certification exam. The lead magnet I have is a 11-day email course that helps her get started with a study plan and get into nice study rhythm. This, with some research I found to be the most pressing need of my reader.

In a short period over 7K email subscribers joined my list due to this one single lead magnet.

Your lead magnet also helps establish your authority in the niche.

leadmagnet conversion sciences

Notice the benefit-driven call to action (button text).

Lead Magnet is the mouth-point to your email marketing. Your reader gives you an implicit permission to send her information, and occasional product/service recommendation when she gives you the email address in exchange for your lead magnet.

If you do not have a lead magnet, create one today. It could be a simple ebook (write in MSWord and save-as PDF file), a report, a checklist, a video – something of value to your reader.

Blog home page tip #8: CALL TO ACTION

A call to action tells your reader to take some action that is beneficial to her (and helps you achieve your blog’s objective).

It could be signing up for your newsletter, downloading your lead magnet, leaving a comment on your blog post, socially sharing your page, visiting sales page of your affiliate product, buying your product, or even clicking your Start page to understand what they can get from your blog.

call to action search engine land

Benefit driven CTA entices reader to opt for the lead magnet. Notice the word ‘Now’ that encourages reader to take action immediately.

Each action taken by your reader is a step towards their goal, and yours.

If you want them to come back to your site again, and purchase what you have to offer (or recommend) each of the above actions will help towards that goal – which of course gets your reader closer to her goal.

You can include a CTA on your about-me page, on each blog post, on your email to click on your blog link, on Facebook ad – pretty much everywhere you need your reader to take some action.

Blog home page tip #9: VALUE, VALUE, VALUE

The single most job of a blog, irrespective of what objective you have for it, is to provide insane value to the reader.

If this job is done well, almost any objective you have for the blog will be met relatively easily.

Your blog should provide exceptional value – ideally something that your reader will not find easily on other blogs. While writing insanely useful blog posts is important, highlighting them on your home page is critical too. Give them easy access to your best posts.

You could do this by adding a ‘Popular Posts’ section on the right side bar, or in a section in your main page with tiled pictures each linking to the blog post – based on your blog’s theme design.

Blog home page tip #10: TESTIMONIALS / SUCCESS STORIES

Nothing conveys your value better than testimonials from other people similar to your reader. Having a testimonial section on the homepage, or directly adding few testimonials on to your homepage (sidebar or in a separate section in the main body) is a great way to impress your visitor.

testimonials

Testimonials can be directly placed on the blog home page or as a link to a page that has a bunch of testimonials.

These are people that have found value from your blog, or personally from you (if you offer coaching program or have ebooks/courses on the blog) and have a good word to share.

Testimonials need not be long – just a couple of sentences is good enough. Again, sharing the benefit they received is what needs to come across.

As much as possible display the photo of your reader that gave the testimonial.

“What if I’m just starting and don’t have any testimonials?”

Here’s one way to do it.

At the end of each blog post offer a free Skype consultation. Invite people to write to you their problems. When people reach out, help them with their queries to the best of your abilities. Really go out of your way to help. They will comes back thanking you. Just ask them if it would be okay with them to have their words featured on the blog.

That’s it, you have your testimonial.

Blog home page tip #11: CONTACT PAGE

Contact page is needed for anyone to reach you directly. It is also the page that people can use to reach you if they have an issue with the content you use on your blog, or even to reach you for licensing your content (another blog-monetizing method).

Once you have a Contact page, this can be linked from various places on the blog like menu, footer, about-me page, or as a CTA on any page/post on the blog.

Contact page is in many cases better than sharing your email address. It lets reader reach you without leaving your blog!

Blog home page tip #12: META PAGES

Privacy policy, Income disclaimer, Terms of use

These are essential for two reasons –

  1. these give you legitimacy and professional outlook for your blog.
  2. if you are planning to promote your pages (content/sales page/landing page) on sites like Facebook, you’ll need these. In counties like US this is required legally.

These pages are linked in the footer of the blog.

That’s about it. There are more blog home optimization tips, but these 12 tips can bring you some immediate results.

Here’s the infographic..

Here’s a quick visual summary of all the points discussed above. Please feel free to share this in your social circles (use the Share button on this page) or embed on your blog using the code below.

blog homepage optimization guide infographic

If you would like to share this infographic on your blog/site please copy this embed code

Wrapping up,

While these are some of the the best practices for an effective and conversion-optimized blog, if you already have a thriving blog you may not want to make bulk changes at once.

In all probability, you have configured Google Analytics. Decide on one most crucial change you want to make and find relevant GA metric for it. Look at current numbers, make the change on the blog, and watch the number for few days. If the impact is better you can baseline this change and try implementing the next crucial tip from the list.

Each blog is different and the best way to find what works is by making split testing and watching numbers.

If you find this post useful please share in your favorite social network!

What is that one home page element that you feel is working best for you?

To your success,

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