How to Optimize Your Blog Page for Conversions
In a world where there is an astronomical amount of blog posts on the internet, how do you stand out? In this post, I show you how.
I knew from the get go that starting a blog would be a long-term commitment. It has been a struggle, but the bottom line is if you blog, it has to be done properly.
Part of this means optimizing the page itself.
It’s important to understand the importance of each section. From the URL to the graphics, comments and tracking pixels, all the elements tie together to provide your reader with an enjoyable experience. Let’s have a look at some ways we can improve the page, and ultimately get more conversions.
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Starting at the very top of the page, the URL is what shows in the address bar.
The structure is important for a number of reasons. Let’s look at some do’s and don’ts:
- Use hyphens “-” to separate words. This is how search engines interpret spaces
- Don’t use underscores “_”
- Remove non critical words like “a”, “the”, “with”, “for”
- Include numbers and keywords like “5-steps”, “how-to”, as well as adjectives, verbs and at least one topic-specific word
- Remove punctuation or slashes
- Keep it as short as possible
By default, if you use WordPress it will show the ID of the post in the URL instead of the title.
If you have your blog set up on your main directory (like in the example above) rather than a subdomain (eg. blog.yourdomain.com) set the permalink to custom structure and type “blog/%postname%”. If it is on the subdirectory, just type “%postname%”.
Under Settings > Permalinks in the WordPress dashboard.
This will automatically set the URL to appear as yourdomain.com/blog/blog-title-here or blog.yourdomain/blog-title-here
You can even customize the URL structure further to include categories or tags if you desire.
I’ll let you in on something.
The title MUST be EPIC.
Why? Because it’s how you make your blog post stand out from the crowd.
There are formulas and strategies for writing titles. Unfortunately I see this as something that has become so mainstream that it’s increasingly difficult to be authentic.
The only way to combat this is to create immense value in our blogs.
Write out at least 6 titles and choose the best one.
You really need to put the time in for this. You might not feel like it but that’s one place where the extra effort will pay off.
The other title options may even come in handy in email campaigns (for tracked unopened/unclicked sends).
Like the title, the feature image is another crucial aspect of your blog page.
It’s the image that will become the ‘brand’ for that page, and potentially any subsequent content such as content upgrades or other repurposed content.
You can opt to create these yourself using a DIY tool, or get a custom graphic done up by a designer.
It can be beneficial to include the title in the image itself. After all, the image is what you see first when you see a post as a related or recommended link, or in your social media feed.
The main details to know is the dimensions required on your blog and the platforms it will be promoted on.
We do these every day as part of our Unlimitly membership.
Part of our process involves creating the feature graphics to specs not just for the blog page itself, but for Pinterest, Instagram and other social networks.
For example, our blog feature graphic is 960x560px. But on Pinterest, we use a pin graphic that is 654x864px. See the difference:
Make the effort to build congruity in to your blog graphics and over time this will help generate an increase in traffic.
From a reader’s point of view, it’s just good manners to show the publish date. They want the most relevant and they want the most up-to-date content.
On the other hand, some studies indicate reasons why it’s best to keep the publish date off the page. These are SEO tactics that are difficult to track and control, so including the date at least gives you control over what to display.
For example, you can show the publish date, or the date it was last updated. The idea is of course to keep your content fresh. [Note: don’t ever change it to a more recent date without updating any of the content. It’s just poor form].
The bottom line is if you decide to display a publish date, it will enhance user experience but it incentivizes you to be more strategic with your content strategy.
Bonus: Read time
This is another example of enhancing user experience.
With so much content on the web, everyone is picky with what they read.
Typically if you wanted to read an article you would click it, scan it and decide if you had enough time to read through it. If you put the read time at the top, you remove that process.
Medium is a great example that has this feature.
They then might decide to read it or skip it. But many people use addons like Pocket to save things they want to visit later.
So think about it. If you do decide to include this feature in your blog, research varies, but generally the average adult reads 200-250 words in one minute. Use that as a guide to calculate your read time in minutes.
Showing the author is important in today’s busy online world. Gone are the days of hiding behind a funky username and weird avatar, or remaining anonymous.
To be authentic, you need to show the author of the post.
Maybe it’s you. Maybe it’s your Head of Marketing. Maybe it’s your VA. Maybe it’s all of you contributing with separate posts. Ultimately whoever writes a post should be credited at the top and bottom.
You can see mine at the end of this post.
This will help to get readers engaging with you on a personal level.
One final indicator of popularity is shares.
It’s best to show this at the top of the post with the comment count if possible as well.
Making a post sharable has never been easier.
Here’s some WordPress plugins to help. There are paid and free versions available.
Once you’ve made your post easy to share, you can start to ask for shares from your readers.
Yes, the formatting of your blog page makes a huge difference.
Start with a simple hierarchy guide like in the image below.
Use your brand’s typeface or font selections to set up how you want your article to distinguish headings, sub headings, body text, quotes, lists, links, and so on.
We use Lato, and here’s our version.
Getting this translated into WordPress can be a little tricky though for non-technical people.
Talk to your developer or hire a freelancer to get this set up if you need to.
A picture tells a thousand words, right?
Consider how the images on this page so far, have helped contribute to how you have understood this post and its sections. I’ll bet as soon as you see an image, it makes a whole lot more sense! Maybe you even skipped to the next subheading after seeing an image.
The bottom line is, they add massive value to your reader.
So invest the time or money to do these up or get them done.
These can be done yourself in Paint.NET (Windows) or Sketch (Mac).
Each blog post presents an opportunity to provide a call-to-action.
This could be for anything, depending on where the post fits in with your strategy.
For the most part, blogging is a ToFu (Top of the Funnel) method to get traffic and new leads.
So a blog post’s CTA would be to download a lead magnet (a.k.a. Content upgrade) by entering some details. I’ve done it on this post with our checklist.
You can get more conversions by showing a mockup of the lead magnet and including multiple opportunities for them to opt-in.
I use two on this blog, because we don’t have a sidebar (at the time of writing) but these three are the best ways to get new subscribers:
This is Neil Patel’s CTA Image on his blog’s sidebar. The whole image (not just the button) links to a landing page, rather than asking for details there. This is helpful when you need to get more details from someone and want to use a 2-step opt-in process.
When you start using email marketing software like Drip, ActiveCampaign, Mailchimp, Infusionsoft, etc. you can set up forms for the lead magnet.
If you need to get more than just a name and email, or you want to run ads to your lead magnet, then you’ll need to set up a landing page.
Mine are a little more customized, but the idea is simple.
- Use your title writing skills to put together a magnetic headline for the CTA
- Get a mockup image created
- Set the details and display options with your email marketing software
- Ask for comments in the email you send out to your list. Do it in a friendly way like “PS. Let me know what you think! If you love it, it would be great to get involved with the discussion in the comments”.
- In the conclusion of the post, ask for agreement/disagreement with the topic in the comments
- Reply to them, thanking them or addressing their comment
Again, this can be a little tricky to set up. But that’s your opportunity to get ahead of your competitors. If you don’t put in the effort, you won’t get the results and you’ll fall behind. Today’s software makes it easier than it has ever been.
Comments are another indicator of post popularity.
Lots of comments = good content.
It’s social proof and tells you you’ve created value for them – which is great.
But getting people to comment on and share your post doesn’t happen overnight.
It comes with consistency.
Here’s some tips for getting comments:
They are free to get started with and plugin to WordPress easily.
You want to keep people reading.
The more content of yours they consume, the better.
At the bottom of each post, include links to related, recent, popular or recommended posts. Call it “Posts you may also like” or similar.
Use the feature graphics from those posts when displaying them to help them click faster.
We use 3 on our blog. The most I would recommend displaying is 6.
Finally, let’s look at a very basic way to use retargeting.
If you’re not sure what retargeting is, it’s a way to market to people who have already interacted with your content. It’s done by using cookies (short snippets of code) on your site.
For a more in-depth guide, check this post out.
By placing cookies on your site, you get to optimize your offsite advertising campaigns by retargeting to people who have already know you.
This is where the power of retargeting is. If you don’t utilize it, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity to speed up your sales cycle.
Here’s a simplified explanation of retargeting:
It’s a good idea to set up the tracking pixels as soon as possible. That way you can target past visitors from now on, even if you are not ready to start ads now.