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6 Christian Blog Layout Best Practices to Increase Reader Engagement

Have you ever come across a blog post that you really enjoyed, but had a heck of a time navigating the rest of the site to find more? It is so frustrating because you can't find a way to follow them on social media or even find more content related to the post that got you there! A crucial element in keeping visitors engaged on your site is how you organize it all. These Christian 6 blog layout best practices will help you keep readers engaged and clicking through to more of your amazing content!

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Blog Layout Best Practices

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Blog Layout Best Practices for Christian Bloggers

The first step of having a successful Christian blog ministry is to get readers to your site. This is accomplished by having a clear idea of who your target audience is and having a sound SEO strategy to drive organic traffic.  But once they get there, you now want to keep them there and keep them engaged as long as possible!

If you notice that you are getting a good amount of traffic but they don't appear to be clicking through to read more, how you have your blog organized (the layout of your site) could be the reason. While you are quite familiar with where everything is and how to get to what you need, your readers are not. You have to give them clear signs for finding what they need.

Think of a large airport or mall that you may have been to for the first time. What is the first thing you do? Look for the map (usually to find where the bathrooms and food are located). When your readers visit your site, they are often looking for those directional signs as well.

These blog layout best practices will help you get your site content organized in a manner that makes it super easy for readers to navigate around, find what they are looking for, and read more of your Christ-filled content.

 

Static Page VS Blog Post Page

A static page is basically a page that has directional signs for getting to specific content but doesn't actually have content on it. It is more of a page where you are telling readers “Enter Door A for this” and “Enter Door B for That.” What displays on a static page never changes unless you physically change it.

A blog feed page, however, changes every time you publish a new post because that post typically now displays at the top of the list.

One question I often get from my students is whether they should have a static page or a blog feed for their homepage. For most Christian bloggers, I would suggest having your homepage just be the blog feed. If your blog content is the focus of your site, you want it to be visible when readers land on your homepage. You don't want to make readers take an extra step to get to it.

If your site serves a dual purpose where the blog content is in addition to something else – such as a coaching program, a speaker/author platform, E-commerce site – then a static page would make sense. In this case, the blog content isn't the primary focus of the site so you want to make sure visitors know how to get to exactly what they came for (blog or services).

If you do have a static homepage, ensure you have clear directional links and images so your reader clearly knows what to click to get where they want. I would suggest asking a few friends to simply check out your homepage and let you know if it is clear or confusing to them.

 

Navigation Menus

Regardless of whether you have a static page or blog feed for your homepage, it is important that your navigation menu is clear. Your navigation menu is usually across the top of your page and where you'll see things like “Home – Blog – Contact – …” This menu often stays the same no matter what a reader clicks on so they always have it as a reference point.

If your theme has the ability to have 2 different menu areas, I highly recommend breaking them up into

  • Admin Links – Your admin pages are things like your About Page, Contact, Privacy Policy, etc. These are things your readers may seek out but aren't the things you really want to drive traffic to. This menu (if created separately) should go in the top-most area of your page, above your header logo image.
  • Blog Links – These are links to actual blog content or other things you are really wanting your readers to get to. These are normally listed as the actual categories of content in the menu area. This menu should be directly under header image so they are right there (in their face so to speak). You can list categories, links to a resource page, a course you are trying to promote, etc.

If your theme only allows for one navigation menu, use the space wisely. You don't want a whole bunch of things listed that really “busy” up the top of your site. Instead of listing every single thing, you can list the main ones, then have the related ones drop-down under them. For example, you could have “Home” and include “About” and “Contact” as dropdown options instead of giving them their own place on the menu.

If you have a link that simply says “Blog,” I would recommend adding dropdowns for each of the categories that you have on your site. Even better would be to list the categories as individual links in the menu. This lets new visitors know exactly what you write about and they can navigate right to the ones that interest them most – instead of having to go to the blog feed and just scroll through hoping to find something interesting.

Related: How to Correctly Use Categories and Tags

 

Internal Linking of Content

Another blog layout best practice which impacts both your readers and your SEO is the use of internal links in every post. Every single piece of published content should have at least a couple of links to other related content on your site. Even if you have “Related Posts” widgets at the end of a post, there is much value in placing the links directly in their line of reading.

You can do this by using anchor text within a paragraph and linking it to a post related to that content. You can also add a line of text such as “Related – Blog Post Title” where you link to a specific post that relates to the paragraph above it. I would recommend a combination of these to entice your readers into clicking through to more content.

Something else that you need to take into consideration is that much of your traffic may come from mobile readers. When a blog post is read on a mobile device, things in the sidebar are shown after the post. Many readers will simply click away from the post as that point and not scroll through all the sidebar content. By placing those internal links in the actual post itself, your readers will be more likely to click on them.

Related: The Importance of Internal Links for Increasing Page Views

 

Call to Action Widgets

This one will vary depending on your blog theme. An Above Content Widget is a space at the top of your site, just under the header image and navigation menus but before the blog posts are listed. If your has an Above Content Widget, add a clickable image there that directs readers to important content like a really great resource page. Or you can use it to showcase an optin for gaining email subscribers. Either way, this is a space that will catch readers' attention so use it to your advantage for directing traffic!

 

Social Follow Options

Of all the blog layout best practices, this is one that is overlooked quite often! I can't tell you how many times I've read a great blog post and wanted to follow the person on social media – and couldn't find a social follow button to save my life! These should be clearly visible at the top of your sidebar, as well as in an above content widget (if your theme has one). Don't make your readers work to follow you – because they most often won't!

In addition to the social follow buttons, I'd also recommend adding an Instagram and Pinterest widget so they can visually see what you share on those.

 

Sidebar Space

Although most mobile views may not scroll your sidebar space, your desktop viewers will see it. It is important that you are using that space with a specific intention to direct your readers. Don't fill this space with a bunch of random affiliate banners. Use this space to showcase your own content.

  • About Me widget
  • Site search box
  • Recent Posts widget
  • Social follow options
  • Clickable images leading to pillar content.

 

Your Blog Layout Matters!

These blog layout best practices are meant as a guide. Every theme has different abilities so you may have different options than others. The point is that you make it as easy as possible for your readers to navigate your site in as few steps as possible. Ensure every link is clearly marked and that you give them the best and easiest path to follow to get to the content you want them to read.

If you would like a deep look at your blog layout to see ways to improve your readership, you might want to sign up for a Blog Audit. Let me take a peek around your site and layout specific ways for you to increase your page views, keep visitors longer, as well as some basic help with SEO.

 

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