The best supermarkets make shopping a breeze. You get in, get exactly what you want, and get out.
They have planned your experience. Thought about how to display their goods, how to get you where you want, and how to get you to buy more.
Whether you go to a big box store like Costco or your local market where everyone knows your name, you are looking for certain things: you want clean, uncluttered, items that are easy to find, and someone who will help you when you need it.
Your blog is like a supermarket. You have certain stuff—your content—that you want people to consume. You want to help them find the things they need. And you want to make the experience so easy and pleasant that they will not only come back, but they will tell all their friends about you. Here are some tips taken directly from your neighborhood supermarket’s playbook.
5 Ways to Make Your Blog More Shopper-Friendly
1. Don’t make them wonder if they are at the right place.
If you drive up to a Safeway or Costco, you know immediately where you are because the huge sign with the big block letters tells you.
Your blog’s header is that sign. First impressions count, a lot, so make it stand out, and if your blog is part of your business, have it reflect your brand. Consider adding a tagline if the blog name doesn’t say enough about what readers can expect to get there.
2. Keep the aisles and side areas clean and uncluttered.
Get rid of the junk. Make everything in your sidebar offer something valuable, something the reader needs. Because if that Top 10 Pop Songs widget or the link to e-bay distracts them, they may leave, never to return.
3. Understand that each person’s shopping list is a little different.
Your reader knows what she wants. Your job is to mark your stuff so clearly that she can grab it and put it in her “cart.”
Categories (think of them like chapters in a book) and tags (the index) are one way to help your readers what’s on their list. So if your blog is about Japanese cooking, some of your categories might be poultry, pork and meatless. The more specific tags might be the ingredients that go into the dishes, like eggplant, garlic, ginger and soy sauce, so people looking recipes with a certain taste or flavor know just where to go.
4. Make it easy to ask questions.
Have you ever noticed that the best grocery stores have staff who can help you find what you need and get you on your way?
The best blogs do that, too. Be sure you have a bold, highly visible way for your readers to contact you. They may have a personal question about a post or they might want to ask about hiring you or buying your products. At the minimum, have a big contact button in your home page navigation bar and a contact link on your about page.
5. Encourage them to consume more.
The best supermarkets are brilliant at getting you to purchase additional items. If you are in the fine cheeses department, you may notice a helpful sign that says, “The Isabel Sauvignon Blanc 2005 goes beautifully with our aged Brie.” And then they have a few bottles on a stand within arm’s reach of the cheese.
You can do the same thing with your blog. The nrelate plugin at the bottom of your blog posts will pull in and link to other posts on the same or similar topics. This keeps readers on your blog longer and helps them “consume” more of your content as they poke around the site.
Oh, and one more thing. Like the friendly checker at the checkout stand, ask your readers how their experience was. Did they find everything they needed in your post? Did you leave something out? Do they have any questions?
Bob Dunn will walk you through more tips and strategies for making your blog user-friendly in his “Stop Losing Readers and Subscribers: A Walk Through a User-Friendly Blog” session on Saturday, November 5 at BlogWorld LA. If you are there, he’d love to meet you.
Bob Dunn is a WordPress trainer and coach in Seattle and can be found at BobWP.com, where he blogs, shares WordPress tips, and offers video tutorials to help you get unstuck. He loves talking WordPress, and when he isn’t doing that, he is reading fiction that scares the crap out of him or gets him laughing. Find him on Twitter at bobwp.