How to Improve Navigation and Increase Readership of a Blog
It’s estimated that there are 60 million WordPress blogs alone, while the total number could be over half a billion. With competition this big, there’s one inevitable consequence.
For most of these blogs, gaining traffic has become borderline impossible. When it comes to things that worry blog owners the most, the top spot goes to lack of readers. As much as 70% of bloggers fear that they won’t be able to reach enough people or get a desired amount of traffic. And this fear is quite reasonable, given that only 50 percent of blog posts get more than 8 shares.
Moreover, it’s obvious that the attention spans of users all around the globe are getting shorter every year. Thanks to the combination of hectic lifestyles and the emergence of social media, people find it more and more difficult to keep their eyes on a single piece of content for too long. And a true invasion of easy-to-consume video content on various platforms isn’t helping the cause either.
As a result, it’s not getting any easier to convince users to read, especially when it comes to long-form articles. And the competition has never been fiercer.
So, as a blog owner, what can you do about this?
How to boost the traffic of your blog?
There are several great ways to increase your blog’s audience. Apart from the most obvious one – to improve the quality of your content – there are several different tricks you can employ.
These include improving your search engine rankings using numerous SEO tactics, leveraging social media accounts, spending some time determining your target audience or optimizing your website’s performance and mobile responsiveness. All these demand time, patience and expertise.
In this article, we’ll focus on a new method that stands out with its simplicity and handiness – improving your blog’s navigation to make better use of your old posts. Why and how should you utilize your old posts to improve traffic?
The importance of old posts
Producing fresh content is one of the biggest challenges for any blogger. It’s very difficult to create great posts on a regular basis. Hence it’s a shame to keep some good readings away from the eyes of your audience, especially when it comes to evergreen content that doesn’t get out of date.
With this sort of content, you can ensure continuous traffic to your website for years to come. This includes all kinds of listicles, reviews, how-to articles and, in general, blog posts that deal with topics that never lose relevance.
This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t write about trending topics that are likely to stay in the spotlight for just a limited amount of time. Your visitors probably won’t be coming back to read this content in a couple of years, but these articles can easily attract people who may become your regular readers over time. Thus it’s important to intelligently balance out evergreen and short-term content.
However, when it comes to this long-lasting content, it’s crucial that it doesn’t get buried and forgotten under a mountain of new material. Making it accessible and visible is absolutely crucial if you wish to make the most out of it in the long run.
Employing a few useful navigation tricks will surely help you do this, and it’s obviously your job to make this content relevant and valuable to your audience. Here are some ideas that you may find useful.
Gaining traffic and readership with the clever use of navigation
Intuitive site structure
If you want your website to have truly user-friendly navigation, it’s vital to have a simple and intuitive structure. Your navigation naturally follows the architecture of your website. Therefore, smart use of navigation bars, patterns or effects won’t be enough if your website lacks a genuinely convenient structure.
There are a few crucial things to keep in mind here. First of all, too many subcategories will normally confuse and repel your users. There’s no font, color pattern or flashy design element that can change this fact.
A simple experiment conducted in 2000 proved this very convincingly. The researchers went to a local food market and displayed a number of jars of jam. The first day, there were 24 different kinds of jam and on the second day, there were only 6. As much as 10 times more sales were generated the second day, thanks to the simplicity and straightforwardness of the choice.
And the same works for websites – overwhelming visitors with a number of unnecessary subcategories can do no good for you.
Secondly, your structure shouldn’t be too deep. Having too many levels of subcategories makes it harder for search engines to crawl your blog and it obviously makes it more difficult for your readers to reach your posts. With every additional click or tap required to get to your post, you’ll be losing traffic.
Finally, you need to make your site structure logical. It’s the only way to make navigation logical as well since this structure is normally mirrored in it. The visual hierarchy between subcategories and other design elements needs to be clear and handy, so employing small tricks such as breadcrumbs can additionally boost the user experience of your blog.
A high-quality internal linking structure can bring multiple benefits to your blog. Broadly speaking, an internal link is any link that connects two different pages on the same domain. In other words, they take your visitors to other places on your website and help them navigate around it easily.
Of course, this includes links in the already mentioned main navigation bars and menus. But internal links placed inside the very articles are equally important when it comes to increasing traffic and the reason for this is twofold.
Firstly, linking to your other articles can help your readers find blog posts of their interests that they wouldn’t have come across otherwise. This especially comes in handy for larger websites with a huge amount of content but is generally useful for blogs of all sizes.
Internal linking can be particularly beneficial when these links point to articles that deal with similar or related topics. For instance, you can assume that a person reading your review of a certain kind of camera will also want to read a review of a similar camera made by a rivaling company or a tutorial on how to use camera lenses. It’s vital that these links are used naturally, bearing the context in mind, and that landing pages are relevant and useful to the reader.
Also, a strong internal linking strategy can improve your SEO, thus making your website more visible to search engines. Long story short, search engines use search bot software to find, understand and index all the pages on your website, and if pages are not well-connected through internal links some of them may end up being inaccessible to crawlers. The result is that these pages will be invisible to search engines.
Furthermore, internal links help your pages gain authority, thus making them rank better for relevant search queries. Search engines use a number of different parameters to determine the authority of each page and rank them for specific search entries.
Simply speaking, a page that ranks well can send authority to another one of your pages by linking to it. This way, pages on your blog can “inherit” high ranking from each other. And given that in 2018, more than 51% of content consumption was driven by organic search, this can be hugely beneficial.
Having an index page with all your articles listed in one place is a great way to increase traffic to your old posts. Your WordPress blog’s index page should make things easier for your visitors. Remember, there are half a billion blogs out there and you need their clicks, while they can most probably find similar content elsewhere on the web.
No one wants to scroll through pages and pages of blog archives to find something of interest. Unless you’re running a news site, they don’t care when each post was published – so it’s not relevant to list everything in reverse date order! Instead, readers want quick ways to find articles about the topics they’re interested in.
You can do this by listing your posts in a searchable index page. Make sure your users can filter your posts based on all sorts of criteria – date, keywords, tags, categories or authors.
No matter how much they like your blog, they’re probably not interested in everything you write about. This is why an actual index page is more convenient than an ordinary HTML sitemap. You can display more information about each post such as the excerpt, and aid navigation through clever features such as filters, search and extra sort options.
You can easily generate a sophisticated index page for your blog using a plugin such as Posts Table Pro. This dynamic WordPress table plugin is particularly handy as it offers more than 45 options, including all sorts of filters, ordering criteria, stylings, control elements, extra columns, and other features. Also, it works well with most WordPress e-commerce plugins, so you can not only generate an index for your blog posts but also for your products.
Navigation bar placement
In order to get the most out of your old posts, you need to take care of the placement of your navigation menus. The optimal placement depends on a number of factors, but there are some general best practices that you should follow.
The most important piece of advice comes down to this: make your navigation bars easily accessible, yet not distracting and obtrusive. Don’t hide navigation options and categories on desktop websites, as people will naturally access your old content less often if there’s no easy way to get to it. Thus it’s preferable to make the bar always stick to the top of the screen so users don’t have to scroll to find it.
However, this is not advisable for mobile devices as they’re smaller, so a navigation bar that’s stuck to the top of the screen can be quite annoying. In this case, try making the old content and different subcategories accessible with just a single tap, using a hamburger or a slide-out menu.
Having a search box at a visible place on every page of your blog is an absolute must if you want users to read your old content.
A lot of visitors will be browsing your website with a very specific idea about what they want to read. If you don’t provide them with an opportunity to search for topics and keywords they’re interested in right away, they’re very likely to leave your blog immediately.
Of course, you need to put the search box where people expect it to find, and that’s definitely the top of the page. Most users will initially assume it is in the top right corner, with the top left corner being the second most common place to look.
This is in accord with a principle that’s known in web design as the F-pattern or F-layout. Namely, this means that the elements on the top of the page, as well as those on the left-hand side, are most likely to be instantly noticed, while the rest of the page is often briefly scanned or even ignored. It’s not bad to have this in mind when designing your overall website layout.
In any event, no matter how convenient and user-friendly your structure, navigation, and index page are, you’ll lose a lot of traffic without a properly optimized search feature. So make sure it’s well-placed, distinctive, simple, customizable and that it employs functionalities such as auto-suggest, search history or progress indicators.
All in all, you need to make the blog easy for your visitors to use and move around. And most importantly, you have to ensure easy access to your old content if you wish to increase the traffic it generates.
With the number of blogs nowadays and the amount of competition you have, making users perform an additional action or spend an additional second to find your old content is more likely to chase them away from your website than you might think. Hence employing some of the mentioned tricks can make a whole lot of difference and provide your readership with a more pleasant experience and your website with a much-needed boost in traffic.