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10 Crucial Elements Every Blog Must Have to Succeed

12 December 2014 Jane Kryukova
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It often goes that good blogs, with qualitative and expert content, remain unnoticed. Why does it happen? The reasons are varied, but one of the main reasons is that blog owners are not making their readers comfortable enough. Today we will describe 10 things that must be included in your blog if you want it to be noticed by both people and search engines.

This site is not bad. What do you think?
This site is not bad. What do you think?

1. Nice font, background and line spacing

Font

The font you use should be simple and easy to read. Without serif, bold, italic and underlined text. The fonts that are available in all browsers, Arial, Times New Roman, Verdana, Georgia and so on, are the most preferable. Don’t use rare fonts.

Don’t use serif fonts
Don’t use serif fonts

Font size

There’s are a lot of argument about what size font should be used. Some say that setting it larger than 11 is mauvais ton, some say that you must make it even larger. In my opinion the optimal font size should be about 11. Why?

  • Smaller font is a leftover. Take a look at all the popular blogs in your niche and see for yourself. In our niche all the top sites use 11 point size fonts: Mailchimp, Content Marketing Institute, Buffer. This list could go on and on.
  • 11 point size font on a medium sized screen looks the same as the standard point size in newspapers and magazines – the most comfortable size to read.
  • It’s hard for many users (especially elder ones) to read small fonts.
  • According to Neil Patel’s research, enlarging both font size and line spacing (if you use simple and easy to read font) prolongs users’ visit sessions.

And the final argument; look at the following sentences to understand how uncomfortable it is to read small font texts:

This font is 6 point size.

This font is 7 point size.

This font is 8 point size.

This font is 9 point size.

This font is 10 point size.

And this font is regular 11 point size. I don’t know about you, but for me this one looks the most acceptable one to me :)

Font and background color

What color font should you use? The answer is obvious, a dark font on a light background, but not black on white – you should use a dark-grey font on a grey or mat background.

Line spacing

Recommended line spacing is somewhere between 1 and 1,5. Here are some examples for you to understand what I’m talking about:

  • This paragraph is written with 0,7 line spaces. As you can see it’s not very comfortable to read it – the line spacing is too small, your eyes get tired and you lose your attention. This line spacing is not recommended.
  • This paragraph is written with 2 line spaces. It’s still uncomfortable to read it. The lines are situated too far from each other, you must make an effort to switch between them.
  • Finally, for the final example. This paragraph is written with 1,15 line spacing – we use it in our blog. This one seems the most comfortable, what do you think?

Line width

One more thing you should pay attention to is line width. Setting it too large will make it harder to keep your readers’ attention. I recommend to set it between 70 and 100 characters per line.

Wide lines are harder to read
Wide lines are harder to read

2. Subheadings, illustrations and remarks

Have you noticed that we include an interesting picture with text at the beginning of almost every article on our blog? We didn’t do it before the A/B-test results showed that it was necessary to lower our bounce rate.

Here’s how to use subheadings without disrupting their hierarchy:

Subheadings hierarchy
Subheadings hierarchy

It is also recommended to include section with an interesting or noticeable fact in every article.

It happens quite often that people don’t read the whole article, they just go through the pictures and highlighted sections. If you are able to catch their attention with these two elements, then there is a chance that users will read the full article.

3. Search forms

Search forms allow your readers to find necessary information quickly, so each visit session length increases and users become more satisfied. As a rule, search forms are placed in either sidebars or headers. If you decide to place a search form on your site after reading this article then make sure first that it has the following functions: corrects wrong keyboard layout, mistakes, typos and also proposes different spelling variants.

4. Having a list of categories

Just as search forms, category lists help people to search for content they are interested in. Many blog services create it automatically (by using tags and categories you write in every post). In all other cases you should do it by yourself. Make sure that each article is not connected with more than three categories, or your list of categories will not be relevant.

Category list on Content Marketing Institute
Category list on Content Marketing Institute

5. Threaded comments

According to Quick Sprout research, threaded comments (when every new answer to a comment is placed right under it) increase the number of comments by 16-33%. It’s easy to understand why: comment threads are comfortable to read, you don’t have to search for necessary answers and think what each comment relates to.

Example of threaded comments
Example of threaded comments

6. Scrolling social media buttons

Social media buttons that move together when scrolling through the page is a surefire way to collect shares and retweets. These buttons are always at hand, so you don’t have to scroll to the end to share. They look as if they are saying: “Push us!”

Scrolling social media buttons in our blog
Scrolling social media buttons in our blog

A couple of services to help you:

Also, if your site is made in Wordpress, then you can use Fixed Widget plugin.

This is very important, make sure that these buttons don’t interfere with reading for mobile users – they shouldn’t run down into blocking half the screen. If that happens, then you better leave regular static buttons. Or even better – use an adaptive page layout or a mobile version.

7. “Follow us” social media buttons

Besides using sharing buttons, use call to action “follow us” buttons. Site owners very often forget to add them and then wonder why they have so few subscribers. Put these buttons in the most visible place and give your users a straight guide to action. You’ll notice that the number of your followers will increase.

«Follow us» buttons in our blog
«Follow us» buttons in our blog

8. “Most popular” and “Most commented” blocks

With help of these blocks you can seriously prolong visit sessions. We have seen this through our own experience – people willingly click links to our popular articles to find out why they are so popular and what comments other users leave.

«Most popular» block in our blog
«Most popular» block in our blog

You can add these blocks with help of plugins like Most Commented Posts and Most Commented Posts (if you are using Wordpress), Jcomments (if you are using Joomla) or ask your programmer to create it.

9. “Related posts” block

This block also increases your average readers’ visit session duration. You could make it yourself or by using special plugins. For example, Related posts for Wordpress and Related Article After Content for Joomla.

Related posts about cats make you want to stay here forever
Related posts about cats make you want to stay here forever

10. Subscribe form

Email-marketing is a very effective channel for attracting traffic and leads. Ignoring it is unacceptable. That’s why subscriber forms take an honorable 10th place on our list. Only you can decide what this form should look like. There are a lot of ways to create your subscribers list, but only by using A/B-tests you can find the most effective one.

Our subscribe form
Our subscribe form

Drawing some conclusions

Many of the above listed elements were added to our site not so long ago. A search form was the first, then a category list, then a sidebar with blocks for “most popular” and “most commented” articles and scrolling social media buttons. The results were seen in traffic growth and improved behavioral factors. I strongly recommend following our example. Create useful, value-added content and try to make your site more comfortable and inviting. Then your business will go uphill. 100%.

© “Texterra”, At full or partial copying of materials reference to the source is obligatory.

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Автор: Jane Kryukova
Marketer at Texterra. She writes awesome stuff for our blog, composes email newsletters, and is always searching for new tools and methods of site promotion. Jane believes that great content is one of the most powerful weapons of a marketer and successfully uses this idea in her practice. Find Jane on Facebook, where she loves to share interesting posts on online marketing.
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© «TexTerra», At full or partial copying of materials reference to the source is obligatory.
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